what kind of plants work well in your region of the Carolinas
by Bain Cannon
Carolinas are a wonderful place for all kinds of gardening. The mountains
(Zone 6), the Piedmont (Zone 7) and the coastal regions (Zone 8) all
offer their own unique challenges and rewards. For those not familiar
with the zone system, the zones are divided by areas of plant hardiness.
Plants that thrive in North Carolina’s mountainous Zone 6 may not
be well suited for life in South Carolina’s coastal Zone 8 and
vice versa. Soil conditions, temperature and rainfall basically determine
boundaries of the different zones. Choosing permanent plants for your
particular landscape should rely heavily on which zone you live in. You
can visit gardentimeonline.com for more information on what plants may
be best suited for your zone.
My partner and I live in Charlotte, which is in Zone 7. In our gardens,
we have an array of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and native plants.
Some plants are less demanding of soil conditions and can still pack a
super punch for color and texture in your yard. Flox is an attractive upright
Snapdragons are hardy plants that will grow in practically any part
of a sunny yard.
flowering perennial that blooms from late spring to late fall in our garden.
Lantana is a shrub-like blooming perennial that can reach as tall as 6
feet and blooms from early summer to late fall. It is considered a weed
in some parts of the country, but in any of the Carolinian zones, it is
not invasive at all — and lovely!
There are many varieties of Sedum available at almost any home and garden
center, but my favorite is Autumn Joy. It produces a rich, dark pink flower
in late summer, which turns a rust color in the fall. It looks almost like
a ground cover if planted abundantly enough and comes back like a trooper
every spring with no effort.
Some plants considered annuals here might not necessarily perform like
annuals all the time. Once again it depends a lot on your specific zone.
Cleome or Spider Plant is an old-fashioned, tried and true standard. It
self sows in our specific conditions and creates a delicate spindly flower
from mid-summer to mid-fall. Surprisingly, Snapdragons (technically an
annual here) that our neighbor planted over two years ago lasted and bloomed
until just a couple of months ago. These beauties are worth trying in any
part of a mostly sunny yard.
Flox is an attractive upright flowering perennial that blooms from
late spring to late fall.
As far as trees and shrubs go, there are a few favorites of mine that should
do well in all three of our zones. Crape Myrtles are something no yard
should be without. Azaleas and Rhododendrons are great bordering shrubs
as well as Gardenias and Camellias. The particular Gardenia we have in
our front yard is the August Beauty. It blooms twice a year — once
in the spring and once in the fall and
fills the entire block with an incredible
fragrance. Nandina and Juniper seem to work well together for contrast
and planting bulbs like Tulips, Hyacinth and Lilies throughout adds great
Some other fun accents we have tried include Sunflowers, Morning Glories,
Shasta Daisies, Elephant Ear and Red Banana Trees. All of these have responded
only as annuals to our specific area but they are certainly worth the effort
to replant each year. For more information on planting selections for your
garden, try virtual.clemson.edu or gardens.uncc.edu. You’ll find
that many universities in our region are an invaluable resource when it
comes to gardening information.