T-Squared Landscaping Greenville SC

Native Plants of Greenville, SC: Are you dreaming of a vibrant yard filled with the melodious tunes of birds and the graceful fluttering of butterflies? Look no further than native plants. By incorporating native shrubs, trees, and wildflowers into your landscaping, you can create a haven for native wildlife right at your doorstep in Greenville, South Carolina. Not only are native plants low-maintenance, but they have also naturally evolved to thrive in the local climate. With this blog article, we will explore the benefits of planting native species, guide you on how to choose the best plants for your garden, and provide a curated list of 11 incredible native shrubs, trees, and wildflowers that are perfect for your Greenville home.

Benefits of Native Plants in Greenville

Supporting South Carolina’s Ecosystems

Landscaping with Native Plants is pivotal in bolstering the natural terrains and ecosystems across South Carolina. These indigenous flora serve as vital lifelines, offering crucial supplies such as sustenance and habitat for native birds, creatures, and other fauna. Embracing these native species in your landscaping endeavors significantly aids in safeguarding South Carolina’s local biodiversity while preserving the fragile equilibrium of Greenville’s ecosystems.

Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Native plants, particularly in Greenville, South Carolina, benefit immensely from their natural adaptation to the prevailing local conditions. The native plants of Greenville are finely attuned to the region’s unique soil and weather patterns, equipping them with remarkable resilience and an ability to flourish with little maintenance. Moreover, these plants often exhibit a higher resistance to pests and diseases. This diminishes the need for chemical solutions, which give you a more sustainable approach to gardening.

Choosing the Best Native Plants for Your Greenville Garden

When selecting native plants for your garden in Greenville, it is essential to consider the specific hardiness zones and soil composition of the area. Greenville County lies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 7A, 7B, and 8A, with most of Greenville itself falling within zone 8A. The soil in Greenville consists predominantly of deep, well-drained soil. Keeping these factors in mind will help you find the perfect native plants for your property.

To guide you in your plant selection process, we have curated a list of 11 exceptional native shrubs, trees, and wildflowers well-suited to Greenville’s climate and soil composition. The below-listed plants will not only enhance the beauty of your garden but also attract a variety of wildlife, from butterflies to birds.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Milkweek Native Plant of SC

Plant Type: Wildflower

Hardiness Zones: 4-9

Sun: Full sun, partial shade

Water Needs: Low

Soil: Coarse and medium soils

Duration: Perennial

Mature Height: 1½-2 feet

Butterfly milkweed is a beloved plant associated with the vibrant presence of butterflies, especially monarch butterflies. This native wildflower boasts small clusters of orange flowers. They will bloom during the summer and fall seasons. It is commonly found in meadows and along roadsides in the wild. In your garden, butterfly milkweed can serve as a striking border plant or add bold color to the back of your flowerbed. Butterfly Milkweed is most resistant to most pests and diseases. This plant is particularly unfavored by deer. However, it is essential to note that butterfly milkweed can be toxic if consumed without proper preparation. Native Americans have historically used it for food and medicinal purposes.

Florida Flame Azaleas (Rhododendron austrinum)

Native Plants of Greenville South Carolina 2024

Type of Plant: Member of the Shrub family.

Best USDA Zones:  6 thru 10

Sunlight needed: Partial sun is best

Water Needs: Stay to a Moderate watering schedule.

Best Choice of Soil/Dirt:  A moist and well-drained clay, sand or loam.

Duration: Deciduous

Mature Height: Common height is 6 to 8 feet, but can grow up to 15 feet

Don’t be fooled by the name—Florida flame azaleas are a native plant that thrives in Greenville gardens. These spectacular flowers bloom in April, displaying various colors from light yellow to red-orange. The clusters of funnel-shaped flowers are adorned with delicate protruding red stamens, emitting a sweet fragrance reminiscent of honeysuckle. Florida flame azaleas attract various birds, including swallowtails, songbirds, hummingbirds, and butterflies like the monarch and Gulf fritillary. Plant them under the partial shade of trees, ensuring they are not planted too close to avoid root competition.

Image: Florida Flame Azaleas

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinal)

Native South Carolina cardinal Flower

Plant Type: Wildflower

Hardiness Zones: 3-9

Sun: Partial, full shade

Water Needs: High

Soil: Rich, moist soils

Duration: Perennial

Mature Height: 2-4 feet

Prepare to fall in love with the cardinal flower, a stunning native plant boasting show-stopping red flowers. These brilliant flower spikes can be seen from a distance, gracing marshes, meadows, and stream edges. The cardinal flower is a favorite nectar source for hummingbirds, and its blossoms open from top to bottom on 2-4 foot spikes, lasting from late summer through early fall. It thrives in moist conditions, making it an excellent addition to rain gardens or as a landscaping accent near water features such as ponds or streams.

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Southern Magnolia Tree in SC

Plant Type: Tree

Hardiness Zones: 7-9

Sun: Full sun, partial shade

Water Needs: High

Soil: Rich, well-drained, medium to moist soils

Duration: Evergreen

Mature Height: 60-80 feet

The majestic southern magnolia tree is a favorite bird nesting spot, with species like the red-cockaded woodpecker and yellow-bellied sapsucker feeding on its seeds. In spring and summer, this tree produces large, fragrant white flowers, creating a stunning display. Although relatively fast-growing, southern magnolias require more watering and maintenance than native plants. Their evergreen foliage provides an excellent contrast to other garden plants. If you don’t mind the care, a southern magnolia will add a touch of charm to your backyard.

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Eastern Red Cedar Native Tree of SC

Plant Type: Tree

Hardiness Zones: 2A-9B

Sun: Sun, partial shade, or shade

Water Needs: Low

Soil: Dry soil

Duration: Evergreen

Mature Height: Typically 40-50 feet

An aromatic evergreen is called the Eastern red cedar and is known for its fast growth. Its pale blue fruit is enjoyed by finches and bluebirds, providing a source of food. The tree’s sturdy wood is rot-resistant, making it valuable for various purposes, including fence posts. Eastern red cedars are highly resilient, tolerating drought, cold, and heat. However, avoid planting them near apple trees, as they are susceptible to a fungal disease called cedar-apple rust.

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

American Beautyberry Native Plant to SC

Plant Type: Shrub

Hardiness Zones: 6A-10B

Sun: Full sun, partial shade

Water Needs: Low

Soil: Clay, sandy, or loam

Duration: Deciduous

Mature Height: 3-8 feet

Native Plants like the beautyberry, native to South Carolina, are admired for their resistance to disease, pests, heat, and fire. The vibrant fruit of this resilient plant is a magnet for various birds, including mockingbirds, finches, and robins. Additionally, larger mammals such as deer and raccoons are also attracted by its bounty. This robust and appealing species not only contributes to the biodiversity but also adds an aesthetic appeal to South Carolina’s rich flora.

Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Native Plant of Greenville SC

Type: Vine

Growing Zones:  6-9

Sun: Full sun, partial shade

Watering: Moderate

Best Soil: Moist, well-drained soil

Duration: Evergreen

Mature Height: 20 feet as a vine, 3 feet as ground cover

The Carolina Jessamine, recognized as the state flower of South Carolina, is an essential native plant that should grace your garden. With its radiant yellow blooms, elegant tendrils, and delightful scent, it enhances any landscape’s aesthetics and olfactory appeal. This versatile native plant can flourish as a climbing vine or an attractive ground cover. Its charm doesn’t stop at its beauty; it also tempts hummingbirds, game birds, and butterflies to visit your garden. However, due caution must be exercised since every segment of the Carolina Jessamine is highly poisonous – thus, it should be out of children’s reach. Thanks to its resistance against diseases and pests, this South Carolina state flower is a low-maintenance addition to any garden.

Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Easter Purple Coneflowers in South Carolina

Plant Type: Herbaceous

Hardiness Zones: 5-8

Sun: Full sun, partial shade

Water Needs: Moderate

Soil: Dry, well-drained soils

Duration: Perennial

Mature Height: 2-5 feet

The Eastern purple coneflower is a popular native plant known for its long-lasting, daisy-like flowers in shades of purple and lavender. These vibrant blooms grace the garden from early summer through mid-fall, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds with their abundant nectar. Easy to grow and low-maintenance, this plant is not only visually appealing but also serves practical purposes. Flowers from the Echinacea species are often used to make herbal tea, and extracts from the Eastern purple coneflower have natural antibiotic properties.

Late Purple Aster (Symphyotrichum patens)

Native Plant in Upstate South Carolina

Plant Type: Herbaceous

Hardiness Zones: 7-8

Sun: Full sun

Water Needs: Moderate

Soil: Coarse to medium soil

Duration: Perennial

Mature Height: Around 3 feet

The late purple aster is a charming native plant commonly seen along roadsides, dry fields, and rocky woodlands in the Piedmont area. Its thin purple flowers attract bees and butterflies, adding a delightful touch to any garden. With its low-maintenance nature and relative pest resistance, the late purple aster thrives in various growing conditions in the Greenville area.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Eastern Rebud native tree of South Carolina

Plant Type: Tree

Hardiness Zones: 4-9

Sun: Partial shade or shade

Water Needs: Low

Soil: Moist, well-drained soil

Duration: Perennial

Mature Height: 20-30 feet

The Eastern Redbud, also known as the Judas tree, is a short-trunked tree renowned for its stunning bright pink flowers. These edible flowers can be used as a creative salad topping or enjoyed fried, offering a slightly sour taste and a high level of vitamin C. Eastern redbuds attract bees, birds, and butterflies with their blooms, and their foliage turns beautiful shades of green and yellow in late summer. This tree adds both visual appeal and culinary potential to your garden.

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

Plant Type: Flower

Hardiness Zones: 4A-9A

Sun: Full sun

Water Needs: Low

Soil: Moist, well-drained soil

Duration: Perennial

Mature Height: 4 feet

Bee balm is a vibrant and fragrant native plant that flourishes in the Piedmont region. As the name suggests, this plant attracts many pollinators, including bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other native species. Its scarlet, pink, and purple flower clusters bloom from mid to late summer, adding color to your garden. Bee balm leaves, when crushed, produce a refreshing minty fragrance and are edible, often used in teas, soups, and fruit salads.

Why Choose Native Plants?

Whether you desire a low-maintenance garden or want to witness the beauty of butterflies and birds in your backyard, native plants are the ideal choice. These plants are adapted to local conditions, making them more resilient to drought, pests, and diseases. Additionally, many native plants have edible or medicinal properties, adding practical value to their visual appeal. To explore a more comprehensive selection of native plants suitable for your Greenville garden:

  1. Visit the South Carolina Native Plant Society (SCNPS) website.
  2. Certain plants native to South Carolina are better suited for coastal environments. Plants that grow great in USA Hardiness Zone 8a is a great starting place when looking for plant choices.
  3. If you require assistance selecting and planting your native plants, consider consulting a Professional Landscaper in Greenville. 

Native Plants of Greenville SC | Blog Article | T-Squared Landscaping & Design | All Rights Reserved | Greenville SC 11/7/23