Rohdea Japonica, also known as Japanese Sacred Lily, is a low-growing evergreen plant that is a great substitute for Hosta. Rohdea actually thrives in dry shade gardens, and is not bothered by deer. A native of the Orient, Rohdea should be more widely planted here. Its low-maintenance and tolerance for poor, dry soil make it an easy plant to grow, even for busy gardeners. The 1 foot long deep green leaves form an upright vase-shaped clump that will cover a 2 foot area in several years. In late fall the insignificant flower stalks will develop into a 6-inch stalk of bright red berries at the base of the plant--just in time for Christmas! The berries are eaten by birds and squirrels which help to disperse the seed for more plants in the garden. Usually difficult to find in the United States, Rohdea is highly prized in Japan, with some fancy-leaved varieties often selling for thousands of dollars. If you can find it, Rohdea is definitely worth planting in the garden. Rohdea Japonica needs shade and will even grow in very deep shade with little water. This drought tolerant plant is perfect for a xeriscape garden in shade. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6-10.
Trachelospermum jasminoides is a very fragrant Jasmine that is known by several different common names. Star Jasmine, known as Confederate Jasmine in the Southeast, is an evergreen plant that can be grown as a vine or groundcover. The fragrance is heavenly in late spring when it blooms most profusely, but the plant will rebloom sporadically throughout the summer. Shiny dark green leaves turn red in winter, adding to the year round beauty of the plant. Trachelospermum Jasminoides is often grown as a houseplant where it isn't hardy outdoors, but Confederate Jasmine is hardy in USDA Zones 8 -11. Preferring part to full shade, the Star Jasmine makes a great privacy screen when allowed to climb a trellis or fence. It makes a great container plant too, where it will continue to thrive if it must spend the winter indoors. This jasmine is a moderate to fast spreader, yet it isn't considered invasive. There are no known pests or diseases involving this plant. Confederate Jasmine, or Star Jasmine, would make a beautiful addition to any Southern garden. If you're interested in purchasing this plant, click here.
Since we have many days of nice warm weather here during the winter, I like to find plants that will bloom in winter. Hellebores are evergreen perennial plants that bloom after Christmas in a rainbow of colors in shades of magenta, rose, mauve, and cream. Some blooms are even speckled. Often called Lenten Rose or Christmas Rose, Hellebores aren’t really roses at all, but are in the buttercup family. Hellebore is a very low-maintenance plant that thrives in dry shade—that’s right, dry shade! When not blooming, Hellebores have interesting, shiny, dark green foliage with leaves often serrated or even palmate. It is a long-lived perennial offering years of beauty in the shade garden. Hardy in USDA Zones 4-8, hellebores require no special care. They spread with time, forming clumps up to 2 feet across in just a few years. Amend the soil well with organic matter when planting, and you’ll be rewarded with many years of beauty. Hellebores are a great substitute for Hosta, but are even better. Hellebores are evergreen and the deer will not eat them! No matter what you decide to plant in your garden, get out there and enjoy it. And remember to thank God for the rain we’ve received!