Native Joy

Oakleaf Hydrangea

“Plants are our food, oxygen, and medicine. Some even say they are one of the most pleasurable experiences on earth! From the flowers to the trees and the seas filled with coral dreams; the earth’s natural flora has inspired and enhanced humans for as long as time can tell. That’s why the power of plants is the key to unlocking our enjoyment of life.”
Natasha Potter

Oakleaf hydrangea, a native of the Southeastern United States, can be found in every county in the state of Alabama – no wonder it has been designated as the state wildflower! Needing lots of space to sprawl, this perennial produces large, fragrant flowers which delight the eye with progressively changing colors.

Hydrangeas are staples of the Southern garden. Refer to the wonderfully detailed Alabama Extension Service article to learn more about oakleaf as well as other hydrangeas. Fall is planting time – start planning your additions now.

Water the Ferns Too

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree” .Martin Luther

An asparagus fern lends its prickly grace to a porch setting, even if resting upon an old plow.

Asparagus ferns are actually members of the lily family, not ferns at all! The inedible berries should have given us a clue-true ferns produce by spore production. Asparagus densiflorous sprengeri , a native of South Africa, likes sun to part shade and can withstand most Mobile winters. However, they need covering in freezing temperatures. Learn more about these easy-to-grow porch perennials at the following link. Asparagus ferns

Happy Places

Boston Fern

Frog said, ‘I wrote ‘Dear Toad, I am glad that you are my best friend. Your best friend, Frog.’ ‘Oh,’ said Toad, ‘that makes a very good letter.’ Then Frog and Toad went out onto the front porch to wait for the mail. They sat there, feeling happy together.” Arnold Lobel

Southern porches are very good places to feel happy together. Dress those happy places with lemonade, conversation, and at least one graceful, green fern. Most ferns require shade, water, and humidity. Click on the link below to learn how to care for these Southern summer staples.

Boston Fern Care

Native Solutions

What is a weed? A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Virginia Creeper

While many gardeners see the Virginia creeper as a pest to be eradicated, some embrace this native and use it in the landscape. A bare, weathered fence can be transformed by allowing this creeper to do its thing. Often mistaken for poison ivy, this vine has five leaflets, while poison ivy has three leaflets. Learn more about this native vine by clicking on the link Virginia Creeper.

Refer to the following link for information about poison ivy identification.

Poison Ivy

Odoriferous Lantana

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

Lantana is about everything you need to attract butterflies. Clusters of multicolored flowers will keep pollinators happy throughout the summer months. Plants require at least 6 hours of sun, well drained soil, and ample space for growth. Caution should be exercised in using this plant in landscapes where small children and pets are present. It is toxic. Refer to the link below to learn more about this Gulf Coast perennial.


Marigold Merriment

“You can spend your whole life traveling around the world searching for the Garden of Eden, or you can create it in your own backyard.” Khang Kijarro Nguyen

When planning your own Garden of Eden, start with easy-to-grow marigolds. Native to the New World, marigolds were  cultivated by the Aztecs for religious, medicinal, and magical purposes. The large seeds make these annuals good choices for children’s gardening activities. Seeds as well as plant cell packs can be found at local garden centers.   Plants require full sun and larger blossoms are achieved in poor soils. Better soils result in greener growth and fewer blossoms.  For more information click on the link below.


Butterfly Bait

“Happiness is a butterfly, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

Make your pursuit of butterflies much easier by planting rudbeckias. Also known as black-eyed Susans and coneflowers, plants are drought resistant and grow from 1-3 feet and spread 12-18 inches. Native to North America, these perennials thrive in full sun or part shade. Deadheading spent flowers will prolong the blooming season. Show some butterfly love and add these to your landscape. Learn more about rudbeckias by clicking on the following link. Rudbeckias

Bold Bromeliads

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” Claude Monet

Bromeliads, native to Central and South American rainforests, provide an abundance of color through stiff spiny leaves as well as blossoms. Most are epiphytic, meaning they grow on other plants, but obtain nutrients from the air, rain, or debris accumulating around them. Two of the most common bromeliads are pineapples and Spanish moss. In the Mobile area, some do well in outdoor beds. Avoid damage in cold weather by covering or bringing plants inside. Learn more about these exotic plants by clicking on the link below.

How to Care for a Bromeliad

Tropical Treasures

“Gardening requires lots of water… most of it in the form of perspiration.”

Louise Erickson

Philodendron selloum, native to the rainforest floors of Brazil, thrive in Mobile gardens. Requiring an area receiving partial sun and having ample space for growth, these tropicals can reach heights of 8-10 feet, and attain more width than an antebellum hoop skirt. While harsh winters turn the lush, verdant split leaves into mush, new growth will appear in the spring. For more information about these tropical beauties, click on the link below.

Philodendron selloum

Made in the Shade

“All gardening is landscape painting.” William Kent

The focal point in this shade garden is the pot of heart shaped caladiums situated by the trunk of the oak tree. Caladiums, native to the banks of the Amazon river, are tropical plants that require soil temperatures of 70 degrees, and thrive in partial sun and shade.Tubers can be planted in pots, hanging baskets and in mass plantings. For more information about these beautiful plants, click on the link below.

Classic Caladiums

Southern Living