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Hot Georgia Summer in my Garden Part 2: Some Plants Look Great!

Recently I complained of plants wilting in this hot Georgia summer with no rain. I promised to let you know when I find some native plants who have held up to this heat with no wilting so far. We have still received no rain, and there isn't really any rain in the forecast. I decided to check only in areas that I know have received no supplemental water - only rainfall. (Rain...what is rain?)

Passiflora Incarnata - Passion Vine
The following native plants look surprisingly beautiful in spite of temperatures in the upper 90's and no rain:
  • Passiflora - Passion vine or Maypop
  • Lonicera fragrantissima - Winter Honeysuckle
  • Redbud
  • Arizona Cypress
  • Agave
  • Blueberries (established plants that were planted a few years ago)
Oakleaf Hydrangea at Callaway Gardens
With some plants, wilting or not depends on the site--those in shade look great but the ones receiving some direct Georgia sun are wilted pitifully:
  • Callicarpa americana - American Beautyberry
  • Hydrangea quercifolia - Oakleaf Hydrangea
  • American Holly
In recent years, mainly due to the drought that has lingered here in Georgia, I have been planting in my garden more species native to the Southwest. Arizona Cypress and Agave are two plants that are not native to our area but grow beautifully here with absolutely no supplemental water. 

Arizona Cypress looks this good this in every season!
If you're in an area where watering restrictions keep you from planting in your garden, consider looking for some of the plants I've mentioned. They will not disappoint you!

Hot Georgia Summer Takes a Toll on my Garden

For the last several weeks, temperatures have reached 98 or above each afternoon, and with, most of the time, not a cloud in the sky! This climate can sure take a toll on garden plants--even those famous for loving hot, dry sun. In the last week I've noticed that even the butterfly bushes and lantana have wilted in the afternoon heat. That observation prompted me to get my ice water and take a walk through the garden looking for the tough guys. I thought I'd share with you my findings.

Plants not wilted in my garden today:
  • Arizona Cypress
  • Bamboo (where did that come from?!)
  • Cactus (if that ever wilts, I'll quit gardening!)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Holly
  • Hosta
  • Loropetalum
  • Mahonia
  • Redbud
  • Rosemary
  • Spirea
  • Yucca (lol, you know that will never wilt!)

The plants mentioned above are in parts of the garden not irrigated. The only water they receive is what falls from heaven. As a native plant pusher, I was appalled to see that most of the non-wilted varieties are from foreign lands! It pains me to say that, but I will ponder on it, figuring that perhaps I need to do some research. This part of the country has been prone to heat and drought way longer than I've been gardening. Native plants have learned to deal with this weather much better than I have. So I'll be stepping out in the heat to tour some local gardens I know to be native plant sanctuaries. I'll have my notepad in hand, and I'll let you know what I find.

Hummingbirds Love Native Plants

Everyone loves hummingbirds! As a nursery owner, I'm frequently asked for plant suggestions to attract hummingbirds into the garden. Hummingbirds, like other birds, look for food, water, and a safe nesting area when searching for a place to hang out. A good nectar source is very important. I prefer to provide nectar in the form of live plants, since they require less maintenance than a hanging feeder. When I think of plants to attract hummingbirds, these flowering vines are the first that come to mind.

Campsis radicans, Trumpet Vine, or Trumpet Creeper is a very vigorous vine with reddish orange trumpet-shaped blooms all summer long. Hummingbirds adore this vine, but plant with care--Trumpet Vine will take over an area quickly. Best planted away from the house and on a very sturdy trellis or arbor where it's beauty can be enjoyed without fear of wearing out its welcome. Still, you'll need to keep your pruners sharp. Watching the hummingbirds chatter and fly around it is well worth the maintenance to me.

Campsis radicans

Bignonia Capreolata, more commonly referred to as Crossvine, is a less invasive but equally beautiful native flowering vine. While Trumpet Vine is seen in profusion along roadsides in the south during the summer, you'll be lucky to find Crossvine growing freely. Bignonia is in the same family as Campsis, but has a much better behaved and easier to control habit. Blooms are large and trumpet shaped and bloom color can be anywhere from brownish orange to vibrant orange to a deep pinkish red. If your gardening tastes lean more to the exotic and unusual, this plant is for you.

Bignonia capreolata on the Arbor

Lonicera sempervirens usually goes by the name of Red Trumpet Honeysuckle or Coral Honeysuckle because the blooms are a vibrant coral red. John Clayton is a yellow-flowering form found growing in Virginia. Lonicera sempervirens is a vigorous yet non-invasive flowering native vine that hummingbirds love. Evergreen in most of the Southern states, Lonicera sempervirens blooms almost year round. I've seen blooms on ours in December here at Shady Gardens in west central Georgia.

Lonicera sempervirens on the Fence
Flowering vines are an important part of every garden, and the addition of a vine is an important layer for small gardens. In addition, these vines can be grown in containers and added to patio or balcony gardens. Next time you consider a vine for your garden, I hope you'll choose a native plant rather than an invasive exotic one. As you can see by the photos above, imported vines could not possibly be more beautiful than some of our own native flowering vines!