For homeowners, one of the most exciting palettes to explore is the one just outside their windows. The ability to create one’s own landscape through flower beds, raised gardens, or strategically placed shrubbery can be as intimidating as it is intoxicating. With a better understanding of local climate patterns and native plants, the adventure can have breathtaking results.
Why go native? Native plants offer a variety of benefits that are often overlooked:
- Resilience: Because native plants are grown in locally owned nurseries, they are already acclimatized to local weather and soil conditions. In other words, the move from that nursery to your home will not be a shocking experience that may cause stunted growth.
- Low-maintenance, high beauty: Native plants require less work than those not familiar with the region. Central North Carolina straddles Planting Zones 7 and 8 offering the benefit of two pools to pull seedlings from. If opting for plants outside those zones, they may require more attention to thrive. Staying within zone means plants can expend less energy adapting and more energy producing beautiful blooms.
- Fan Favorites! Plants native to the area are a favorite of local wildlife. This means that butterflies, bees, or other pollinators will feast on flowers that match their region-specific tastes. After a quick snack, those fliers will carry pollen from one bloom to another, offering an assist in growing your garden.
Having a basic knowledge of what to plant during which season is another simple way to guarantee gardening success. This knowledge may also alleviate confusion among the decadent rows of plants that pop up in local stores as soon as the temperatures begin to rise. Many larger nurseries are happy to sell plants that would fare better in alternative zones; be sure to read labels to find those suitable for zones 7 or 8! When establishing beds, opts for perennials whenever possible as they will return each year - another great way to save money long-term.
Plants that are both heat-resistant and drought-tolerant are the only ones that should be considered when selecting sowing options for the summer months.
- The Purple Coneflower is a hardy perennial that thrives in full sun. The pinkish-purple flowers are magnets for butterflies as they traverse central North Carolina during migration periods.
- If you prefer an ode to NC State, drop Cardinal Flowers in your garden. These do best when near ponds or streams and stretch to over three feet tall with brilliant red flowers. Not near a water feature? Your gutter’s downspout is a great source of natural water!
- Black-Eyed Susans are sometimes mistaken for mini-sunflowers due to their bright yellow flowers, but they are actually unrelated. Still, they are an excellent choice for the summer as they require little watering while handling full sun.
It’s not too early to start planning fall gardens. While the temperature will stay warm well into the season, once those dog days of summer are behind us, the planting can begin.
- The American Beautyberry shrub offers clusters of vibrant, purple berries in the fall. While not for human intake, birds will appreciate easy access! No need to worry when leaves come off this plant as it does shed annually.
- Unique, heart-shaped leaves are showcased by the Eastern Redbud as they turn bright yellow in the fall months. This small tree is the perfect addition to your home’s exterior as it is quite versatile! Full sun or shade? Either one works as long as the soil drains well.
- Mums are the season’s most popular plant for a reason! They come in a variety of colors and will return each year when planted in the ground. Trim dead buds throughout the season but wait until March to cut them back fully. Their roots will appreciate the extra nutrients during the chilly winter months.
- If you’re hoping to spruce up your lawn or start a wildflower bed, Autumn is the time to prepare. When leaves begin to fall, sprinkle seeds among this natural compost to see big results come spring. A great alternative to traditional grass is Clover! Popularity is rising on Clover as pollinators love it.
It is a common mistake to take a break from the garden during the winter, but there are still ways to offer visual interest.
- The American Holly tree bears red berries throughout the winter which is a striking contrast to its deep green leaves. Again, this is a plant that can appreciate anything from full sun to partial shade as long as its soil is well-drained.
- The Christmas Cactus is a popular in-house plant as owners hope to see beautiful blooms come December. Outside, the Christmas Fern is a local favorite as it is incredibly hardy. Even in the rare North Carolina snowstorm, this fern remains green against a beautiful white backdrop. Perfect to keep front porches fresh all winter long!
- If winter plantings are not for you, no worries. A great way to impact the environment is to prepare for incoming chicks. Add a few birdhouses to your landscape so that birds can investigate them for a few months. Come spring, you may find a tiny, chirping family has moved in!
Spring fever is real in central North Carolina. As the temperatures rise, consumers rush to gardening centers for bursts of color. Plan ahead as favorites are snapped up quickly!
- Lantanas are a tried-and-true plant available in either creeping or bushing. Choose based on your preference and soon your garden will burst with oranges, whites, or red flowers. Lantanas will come back each year if planted close to your home - simply trim back in early March.
- The Flowering Dogwood springs to life with white or pink blossoms. This small tree is our state’s symbol and for good reason - it is gorgeous! It won’t take long for a sapling to grow into a favorite part of your yard.
- Several towns in North Carolina host Crepe Myrtle festivals as this popular tree offers a beautiful accent to any landscape. When in bloom, many downtown areas are lined with vibrant colors welcoming a second look.
- The Carolina Jessamine is a perfect addition to pergolas as it crawls up the structure and creates a canopy of yellow flowers each spring.
- We can thank our neighbors to the north for the Virginia Bluebell and its delicate, bell-shaped flowers. This is a plant that prefers shade and offers blue-hued flowers, perfect as a backdrop for daffodils.
- Before you plant any bulbs, make sure your zone will be cold enough to freeze them underground. Many bulbs will not survive the winter in our state because the season is a bit too mild to bring soil temperatures low enough for success.
Is it possible to create year-round beauty just outside your front door? Absolutely! By building beds with a high population of native plants, your home will soon be a neighborhood favorite. Limit actual planting to the early spring or fall as plants will appreciate a transition during warm, rather than hot, months.
Herring Homes has numerous new construction options that include generous outdoor spaces. The only thing missing? Your personal touch! Whether you opt for a few floral additions or entire gardens, your Herring Home will be beautiful!