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Native Perennials for Southern Gardens

Updated on February 1, 2015
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Yvonne is a Louisiana Master Gardener and a former president of the Folsom Native Plant Society. She gives talks about sustainable gardens.

Beneficial Native Perennials

Wildflowers and native plants deserve a prominent place in southern gardens. Native plants promote a healthy ecosystem and because they are used by native wildlife, improve biodiversity. Wildflowers and perennial native plants are accustomed to the growing conditions and climate of an area, making them drought resistant, low maintenance and low cost additions to the landscaping. When you add the natural beauty of many of these plants and the flowers and fruit that they provide, it is hard to understand why they are not used more often in suburban landscaping.

In this article, I have posted photographs and descriptions of some of my favorite perennial wildflowers that grow in the southern United States. You'll also find book recommendations and plant materials.

Indian Pink

Indian Pink, Spigelia marilandica
Indian Pink, Spigelia marilandica

Native Indian Pink

Click to buy poster of Indian Pink Flowers Spigelia marilandica is by naturegirl7 .

The beautiful Indian Pink is one of my favorite wildflowers. This perennial grows in moist, well drained partly shady places throughout the south. We are lucky to have it growing both in our garden and in the woodland area of our habitat in southeastern Louisiana.

If you have the right conditions, Indian Pinks will reward you with lovely red and yellow blooms for a few months from spring into summer. A favorite nectar flower of hummingbirds, this native brightens up the shade garden.

Spigelia marilandica is in the number one spot of beautiful, beneficial and easy to grow native perennial flowers.

Native Plants for Balance Video

Red-Violet Louisiana Iris

This could be one of the Abbeville Reds.
This could be one of the Abbeville Reds. | Source

Dark Blue, Almost Purple Iris virginica

A dark blue-purple LA Iris in Louisiana.
A dark blue-purple LA Iris in Louisiana. | Source

Iris virginica Almost White

LA Iris can be almost white.
LA Iris can be almost white. | Source

Louisiana Irises

Red-Violet Louisiana Iris poster by Naturegirl7 is available at

Native Louisiana Irises are the perfect plant for wet areas in your garden. The 6 original (native) varieties range in size from the small, periwinkle blue Zig-zag (Iris brevicaulis) to the very large Giant Blue Iris (iris giganticaerulea). Colors range from almost white to dark blues and purples. The dark copper red Iris fulva is a favorite of hummingbirds. They hybirdize freely in the wild and in your garden. Most bloom in the spring, with the Zig-zag irises being the last to bloom.

Louisiana Irises also grow well in moist, sunny spots in your garden beds. They bloom for months and will multiply by their underground tubers called rhizomes. To get more plants, divide the rhizomes in fall and plant them out.

Iris fulva

Copper-red Iris fulva
Copper-red Iris fulva | Source

Louisiana Iris Books and Plants

The Louisiana Iris: The Taming of a Native American Wildflower, 2nd Edition
The Louisiana Iris: The Taming of a Native American Wildflower, 2nd Edition
All about the Louisiana Iris from the native species to the domesticated cultivars.

Blazing Star Liatris


Click to buy poster of Blazing Star Liatris Bloom by naturegirl7 .

Liatris or Blazing Star is a perennial flower of the pineland savannahs. It likes full sun and can tolerate boggy soil. The grass-like foliage springs from a gladiola-like corm. The flowers appear in late summer and early fall and can be used in flower arrangements.

Blazing Star grows well in a garden bed and attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Blazing Star Plant

Favorite Native Plants

Which is your favorite native perennial?

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Tough Plants for Southern Gardens

Tough Plants for Southern Gardens
Tough Plants for Southern Gardens
Felder Rushing recommends many plants that grow well in tough situations.

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