Here’s a list of lists about why you should use more native plants in your landscape
Gardeners are constantly looking for ways to make gardening easier and more carefree. “Low maintenance” is often the holy grail for most of us. One of the easiest to reduce the “work” of gardening is to use plants native to our state. Because they are adapted to our local environmental conditions, they offer a wealth of benefits, including:
- They are usually easier to grow.
- Once established, they usually require far less maintenance.
- They usually require less fertilization.
- They usually require less pest control. Many native plants have developed their own natural defenses against many pests and diseases.
- They usually require far less water.
- They will often provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and many other species of wildlife.
- They are usually locally grown, not shipped in from another climate.
- They are usually long-lived, with some plants living for decades.
- They usually tolerate a wide range of light and moisture situations.
- They will often provide three or four seasons of interest.
- Many of them are truly beautiful, offering a wide range of colors, textures, and forms.
- They increase biodiversity and stewardship of our natural heritage.
- Some can solve landscape problems that many non-natives cannot, such as runoff/wet areas or dry areas.
Eight Louisiana native plants that love the sun
1. Sweet bay magnolia (M. virginiana)
2. Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
3. Stokes’ aster (Stokesia laevis) [pictured below]
4. Louisiana iris (I. fulva, I. hexagona, I. brevicaulis, I. giganticaerulea, I. nelsonii)
5. Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
6. Common wax-myrtle (Myrica cerifera)
7. Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
8. Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria)
Six Louisiana native plants for the partial shade/shade
1. Oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia)
2. Florida anise (Illicium floridanum) [pictured below]
3. Louisiana blue phlox (P. divaricata)
4. Cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
5. Native piedmont azalea (Rhododendron canescens)
6. Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Five Louisiana natives that don’t look like native plants and look great in a more formal landscape
1. River birch (Betula nigra)
2. Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria)
3. American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
4. Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) [pictured below]
5. Snowbell (Styrax americanus)
Three all-but-forgotten Louisiana native plants that absolutely should be in your landscape
1. New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a fragrant, compact, dense shrub that can grow in full sun to part shade. Lovely white flowers in late spring.
2. American witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a small tree blooming in late winter with striking yellow flowers.
3. Buckwheat tree, black titi (Cliftonia monophylla) [pictured below] is a fragrant spring bloomer with draping white flowers. Adaptable to wet soils and a pollinator plant.
Ten Louisiana Native Trees to Consider
1. Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) is a great spreading tree we nearly all admire in Southern landscapes.
2. Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) [pictured below] grows to 100 feet with limbs reaching to the ground. It will grow from xeric to moist woodland areas and is evergreen, as is the live oak above.
3. American holly (Ilex opaca) is a beautiful tree with branches that will extend down to ground if not pruned. It is slow growing and takes a good many years to achieve it most attractive form. The natural hybrid Savannah holly (I x I ‘Savannah’) is somewhat smaller, about 45 feet, faster growing, and a good yard tree.
4. Southern sugar maple (Acer barbatum), an LSU Super Plant, is a wonderful tree with clear yellow fall foliage that shines brightly.
5. Willow oak (Quercus phellos), another LSU Super Plant, is a stately deciduous tree.
6. Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipfera)
7. Brandywine red maple (Acer rubrum ‘Brandywine’)
8. Spruce pine (Pinus gladbra) generally grows in shade to part sun, but can handle full sun. The limbs grow lower down and, although pyramidal, fills a void that other pines can not.
9. Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) grows in full sun and in soil that varies from moist, well drained to dry. It is a tall, stately, straight evergreen that reaches 90 feet or more.
10. Roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii) is a small deciduous tree, not nearly as showy as the declining flowering dogwood (C. florida) in our area, which is continuing to survive in areas north of Louisiana. This tree is known by birders to host at least 40 different birds during the annual migrations.