We are fortunate in North America and particularly the southeast to have some really outstanding native plants that we can purchase at nurseries and garden centers. Take one of my favorites, Baptisia. Native to the southeast, this member of the legume family blooms in the early spring. Even after blooming, I like the foliage and the bean like seed pods. A cultivar known as “Carolina Moonlight” is stunning with pale yellow blossoms. The native variety has purple flowers and is also attractive in any garden. It is deer resistant as are most natives. Otherwise, they never never would survive!
Gaillardia or Blanket Flower is a heat and drought loving native that you can see along a sandy beach. It is named for an 18th century French magistrate and amateur botanist, Maitre Gaillard de Charentonneau. Its common name may reflect the colors used in Native American blankets. Make certain that this plant does not get too much water. It really likes to be dry. The only problem with Blanket Flowers is that they are a short lived perennial, but they can spread and produce new plants given the right conditions.
Coneflowers are among my favorites and although they are not native to the southeast, they are a native American prairie plant much beloved the world over.
You can see them from U.K. to Germany to Japan. They do like cold in winter and mine look the best ever thanks to the December hard freeze. They spread by seeds and if you are lucky, you will have baby coneflowers. They bloom for a long time and now there are cultivars in many colors – the traditional pink, but also red, orange, lime green, white, and yellow.
A southeastern native is Eryngium yuccifolia, commonly known as Rattlesnake master. The basal leaves look a bit like yucca, but the flowers are little white spiky balls that are loved by bees and wasps and some butterflies. It is not invasive and stays neat and tidy. The legend is that Native Americans used its leaves to brew a tea as an antidote to a Rattlesnake bite. I have no desire to experiment with that.
If you can find these native, give them a try. They will add quite a bit of variety and color to your garden.
On another note, My book is now available at Lowco Gardens in Port Royal, Bruno's Garden Center and the Greenery on Hilton Head Island.