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Native Trees and Shrubs for Southern Gardens

Updated on September 1, 2014
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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.

Red Buckeye - Native Shrub

Red Buckeye flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds.  Red Buckeye Poster at*
Red Buckeye flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds. Red Buckeye Poster at* | Source

Red Buckeye, Honeysuckle Azalea and Magnolia Top My List

I plant native trees and shrubs. "Why?", you might ask. My answer would be that they are beautiful, easy to grow, low maintenance, drought tolerant and are used by more wildlife than their exotic cousins.

If you don't want to spend hours maintaining your landscape, then an informal plan using native plants is for you. 

The best time to transplant trees and shrubs is from fall to early spring.  Be sure to keep them watered for the first 6 to 9 months, until they are established.

In this article I highlight some of my favorite native trees and shrubs giving information about growing them and why I like them. Photographs of each are featured.

Native Trees and Shrubs Poll

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Native Plant Landscaping and Sustainablility

Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

The Red Buckeye is a beautiful native large shrub or small tree that grows along the edges of woodlands. It can be used in landscaping and should be planted in part sun in fair soil. Spikes of red flowers appear in spring. Hummingbirds and other pollinators drink the sweet nectar from the large number of flowers.

After the flowers fade, a seed pod forms which contains the "buckeyes" from whence it's common name is derived. The large seeds are easy to plant and can be heeled into the ground wherever you wish a new tree to grow.

Native Honeysuckle Azalea

This native Rhododendron is used by butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators.
This native Rhododendron is used by butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators. | Source

Native Deciduous Azaleas (Rhododendron spp.)

Buy Honeysuckle Azalea Poster by naturegirl7 from

Honeysuckle Azalea (Rhododendron canescens) is one of the most common native azaleas in Louisiana.  The flower color ranges from nearly white to deep pink and the fragrance resembles that of honeysuckle (hence the common name).  These deciduous Azaleas grow naturally on the higher land along streams and rivers.

They are lovely in a natural setting in part sun to part shade in well drained soil.  They bloom in spring.

Flame Azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) is a native of Florida and Alabama, but grows well in Louisiana and throughout the south.  Growing conditions are similar to that of R. canenscens.

Swamp or Summer Azalea, (Rhododendron viscosum was R. serrulatum) is the only summer blooming native Azalea in our area.  As it's common name shows, it likes damp soil and grows well in shady, swamp like areas.  Because of habitat destruction, R. viscosum is being lost in the wild.

Southern Magnolia

The Southern Magnolia flower has a lovely scent.
The Southern Magnolia flower has a lovely scent. | Source

Native Tree and Shrub Books

Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of the Southeast: Landscaping Uses and Identification
Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of the Southeast: Landscaping Uses and Identification
A good reference book about Southeastern U.S. native trees and shrubs.

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Click to buy Southern Magnolia poster by naturegirl7 on

The Southern Magnolia is a majestic evergreen tree.  It is the state flower of Louisiana and many other states.  It's enormous white flowers are followed by attractive cones containing bright red seeds.  The seeds are eaten by many kinds of birds.

Southern Magnolias are easy to grow if given a lot of room for expansion. They like full sun and good soil. 

Native Azaleas Books and Plants

Are you a fan of native trees and shrubs?

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    • profile image


      8 years ago


    • saif113sb profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting hub and beautiful picture.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I wish when I started to plant up my yard that I'd stuck to all native plants. It just makes more sense. I love the magnolia, the leaves are magnificent, the flowers unbelievable, and the scent is just heavenly!

    • JimmieWriter profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      9 years ago from Memphis, TN USA

      I can't wait to have our own yard so I can learn about gardening and plants.


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