Yvonne writes about and photographs flora and fauna of Louisiana, sharing the knowledge she learned through study and personal experience.
Native Perennials for the Hot, Humid South
Here are 15 easy to grow native perennial flowers that are guaranteed to thrive in the hot, humid areas of the coastal southern United States and in other parts of North America, too.
As we move toward sustainability, native plants are becoming more popular substitutes for the expensive labor intensive, ecologically unfriendly exotic plants of the past. Sustainable gardens are "In" and formal, ornamental gardens are "Out".
This is the first page in a series of articles about easy to grow southern perennial wildflowers. Links to other, more detailed pages about each of the native flowering perennials that are discussed below are provided.
All photos by Y.L. Bordelon, All Rights Reserved
ZigZag Iris, Iris brevicaulis
Why Landscape with Native Plants?
Landscaping with native plants is the earth friendly way to garden. It is also perfect for today's busy homeowner, who wants a backyard garden sanctuary, but just doesn't have the time or money to maintain a formal, ornamental garden. With native plants you get the best of both worlds: beauty with low cost and low maintenance.
Some of the many pluses of native plants include:
- drought resistance
- attracts butterflies and birds
- low cost
- low maintenance
- helps reduce emissions because there is little lawn to cut
- no need to fertilize
- no need for pesticides or weed killers
and I could go on and on. For more information about gardening with native plants visit some of the articles featured below.
Wildflowers of Louisiana Poster on Zazzle
Gardening with Native Plants of the South
Gardening with Native Plants of the South is a "must have" book for any southerner who wants to use native plants in the landscape.
Attracts Butterflies and other pollinators
This hardy, fall blooming perennial comes in shades of blue, purple and white. They will grow in many types of soil in sun to part shade. The small white ones grow well in wet woods. Some are low growing and mound shaped and many of the blue and purple will grow 6-8 feet tall. Asters can be pruned early in the year, before July 4th, to form a bushy shape.
White Fall Aster, Aster eriodes - White, small mounding plant found in wet woodlands
Blue Aster, Aster praeltus - Very tall purple-blue Aster found in many soils and conditions. Great for the back of a perennial border.
Savanna Aster, Symphyotrichum chapmanii - Beautiful large light purple flowers on a small attractive plant. Found in pineland savannahs.
Boltonia, Boltonia asteroides - airy, white aster-like perennial growing in moist conditions in full sun.
Monarch on Asters Poster on Zazzle
Butterfly favorite, seeds eaten by song birds
These beautiful, bright golden yellow flowers will enhance any garden. Coreopsis comes in many sizes, from the small Eared coreopsis, dwarf tickseed to the larger, more hardy Lanceleaf coreopsis and common coreopsis. Most bloom in the spring.
Eared coreopsis, dwarf tickseed, Coreopsis auriculata - 6 inches to 2 feet in bloom, sun or shade, but happier in part sun, moist, acid soil
Lanceleaf Coreopsis, C. lanceolata - Very hardy perennial, that will survive in clay and dry soils in full sun or part shade. Propagate by seed or division.
Common Coreopsis, C. grandiflora - Same as Lanceleaf Coreopsis, great for adverse conditions
Annual Coreopsis or Prairie Tickseed, Coreopsis tinctoria - is NOT a perennial. Grows in full sun or part shade, start the seeds in fall or early spring. Once established it will usually reseed on its own.
Coreopsis lanceolata Poster on Zazzle
Swamp Sunflower, Helianthus angustifolia
Sunflowers, Helianthus species - Butterflies are attracted by the flowers and song birds eat the seeds.
The sunflower family is the largest wildflower family and grow in a variety of conditions. Most bloom in the late summer and fall.
Swamp Sunflower, Narrow-leaved Sunflower, Helianthus angustifolia - Very tall and aggressive plants with golden yellow flowers which grows in sun or shade. Suitable for a natural setting in a large area. It is probably the most common native sunflower in south Louisiana, but there are many others that can be grown in the home landscape. You can find the link below for a page I wrote called October Blooming Native Sunflowers. It features more varieties of sunflowers.
Bumblebee on Sunflower Poster on Zazzle
Links to Asters, Coreopsis and Sunflowers
- Coreopsis - Hardy and Beautiful Wildflowers
The Coreopsis family contains many beautiful and hardy native perennial flowering plants. Most members have golden yellow flowers, though one that is native to the south is pink. These easy to grow flowering perennials attract butterflies and other..
- October Blooming Native Sunflowers
Native sunflowers (Helianthus) color the landscape in October. On this page you'll find many photos and much information about using sunflowers in the landscape and about the animals that use them.
- Wild Asters of Autumn
Photos of wild asters, butterflies and bees taken by the author are featured on this page. Information about identifying and growing the various native asters of Louisiana is also provided.
Native Louisiana Irises
Hummingbirds, Orioles and Butterflies use the flowers. Water birds eat the seeds
The five species of Irises that are native to the coastal Southern United States are happy in wet areas or in flower beds. Irises grow from a rhizome and most have evergreen leaves. They grow in full sun to part shade and like moist soils. In the wild, native irises hybridize freely. The Louisiana Irises include both natural and many-made hybrids of the native varieties.They bloom in spring.
Copper Iris, Iris fulva - A deep copper-red iris, that is used by hummingbirds. It grows naturally in areas that are seasonally flooded, but does well in a flower bed or a rain garden.
Abbeyville Red, Super fulva, I. nelsonii - Colors from coppery red, brown to deep purple. Flowers are larger than the normal I. fulva. Plants were discovered in the area around Abbeyville, LA.
Southern Blue Flag Iris, I. virginica - Colors from almost white to dark blue. They grow well in wet places.
Zig-Zag Iris, I. brevicaulis - These dwarf plants with bright blue flowers are upland Irises that are happy in drier conditions.
Big Blue Iris, I. giganticaerulea - Giant blue iris of the swamps and marshes