Our Natives are Right at Home

Native plant is a term used to describe plants that are indigenous to a particular area. This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in a particular place. These plant species are adapted to the soil and weather conditions and are the foundation of our native ecosystems, or natural communities.


Native Plants Save Energy:
Native plants have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years. They are vigorous and hardy, so they can survive winter cold and summer heat. Once established, they require very little care.

Native Plants Provide Balance:
Each native plant species is a member of a community that includes other plants, animals and microorganisms. The natural balance keeps each species in check, allowing it to thrive in conditions where it is suited, but preventing it from running wild.

Native Plants Benefit Local Ecosystems:
Natives are a cornerstone of biological diversity. They provide food and shelter for native wild animals such as birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The also keep the natural balance of each.

Native Plants Help Save the Bay:
Their root systems help rainfall percolate into the soil, reducing erosion and runoff. They help divert water from storm drains and decrease the impact of runoff to rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay. This improves water quality.

Here is a recommended list of Natives for you to try in your garden. You will definitely have success with these native plants while benefiting wildlife and our ecosystem.

Native Grass-Like Plants
• Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus)
• Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
• Rush (Juncus effuses)
• Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaries)
• Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)

Native Perennials
• Aamsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana)
• Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)
• Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnate)
• Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberose)
• False Indigo (Baptisia australis)
• Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
• Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)
• Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata)
• Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia)
• Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
• Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium coelestinum, dubium)
• Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
• St. John’s Wort (Hypericum calycinum)
• Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)
• Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
• Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
• Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
• Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)
• Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)
• Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
• Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

Native Shrubs
• Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
• Clethra (Clethra alnifolia)
• Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
• Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra)
• Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
• Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)
• Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
• Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
• Bayberry (Myrica cerifera)
• Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa)

Native Trees
• Red Swamp Maple (Acer rubrum)
• River Birch (Betula nigra)
• Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
• Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginica)
• Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
• Sweetby Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
• Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)
• Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
• Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Native Vines
• Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
• Carolina Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
• American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)


Summer's Flowering Vine


A star in the summer garden, Mandevilla loves it hot and sunny. This flowering vine, boosts beautiful flowers and dark green foliage. The hotter it is, the more this plant thrives. Once planted in full sun, Mandevilla is easy to grow and needs little more than training to grow on any type of support you choose. Whether you want to grow it up a trellis, porch post or even a mailbox this easy to care for plant adds tropical summer color wherever it is placed. We love Alice Dupont, with its trumpet-like flowers in ice pink. Each flower lasts for several days. And, looks great on an arbor, trellis or fence. Follow a regular watering schedule and feed with a general purpose fertilizer like McDonald Greenleaf.

TIP: Try this EASY trick to train the plant upward to add pizzazz to your deck or patio.

  1. Choose a sunny spot on your deck or patio that needs visual enhancement.
  2. Gather twine, cup hooks and a Mandevilla plant.
    (The above photo features the Alice Dupont variety)
  3. Use one cup hook at the base of the plant to anchor the twine. Use 3-4 pieces of twine arching out in a fan pattern and using a cup hook to secure at the top.
  4. Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the size of your Mandevilla, so that its main stem sits slightly above the soil line. This holds true whether you're planting in a container, hanging basket or in the ground.
  5. Train your Mandevilla to climb the supporting structure. Tie stems initially with plant ties and let it twine naturally from there.

Queen of the Vines


Bring royalty to your garden with the beloved flowering vine, Clematis. This deciduous plant is without a doubt the most versatile vine you can grow. Few other perennial vines offer such a wide range of bloom colors, shapes, and bloom seasons. This easy-to-grow, climbing vine is cherished for its incredible flowers and is a perfect choice for both the seasoned or beginner gardener. Clematis comes in an array of colors including white, pink, purple, red, blue, yellow and bi-color. Bloom periods range from spring, summer, with some varieties flowering summer through fall. It's well suited to all types and sizes of gardens, from large or small, and formal or casual. Depending on the variety, vines can grow to heights anywhere from 1-25 feet; however, clematis may be pruned to keep a desired shape or form. Often you will see these beauties cascading over walls and fences or meandering up trellises, pillars, mailboxes, lampposts, or even arching elegantly over doorways. Some varieties even make a dazzling ground cover. Clematis is stunning when used alone or when several different colored varieties are mixed together. Most varieties grow best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. So let clematis, queen of the vines, reign supreme this spring and summer in your sunny garden!

One of our favorites this season is the new Sapphire Indigo™ Clematis. With a nearly continuous blooming habit, this compact vine will provide stunning masses of large sapphire blue flowers over a long season. It can be trained as a climber or grown as a showy, shrubby groundcover with no support. This outstanding new selection is perfect in containers and stunning when featured in a hanging basket.

photo courtesy of Monrovia



Mandevilla... Up, Up & Away!

What travels up walls, drapes over trellises, climbs fences, can take the heat and offers non-stop blooms all summer long? Well it’s not Superman but it is super Mandevilla! Mandevilla, also known as Dipladenia, is a flowering, woody vine that is most popular with gardeners in warmer climates. Here in Hampton Roads, Mandevilla blooms late spring all summer long with an abundance of large, trumpet-shaped flowers against a backdrop of beautiful glossy green foliage. Blooming in variety of colors including white, pink and red, this summer climber can be trained up a wall, pergola, fence, trellis, porch post or even a mailbox.

Caring for your Mandevilla is easy as it has few requirements. They enjoy bright indirect or filtered sunlight, but can get burned in direct, full sunlight. Mandevillea requires a sufficient amount of moisture and well drained soil, but can survive short periods of drought. Applying a fertilizer periodically during the summer will also encourage blooming, so be sure to feed your plant a high phosphorus, water soluble fertilizer to encourage flowering. Pinching back every so often will also help to create a bushier and fuller plant. To pinch your Mandevilla vine, simply use your fingers to pinch off 1/4 – 1/2 inch off the end of each stem.



Climbing in Popularity... Blooming Vines

Things are 'looking up" in the garden this summer and classic vines are 'climbing' in popularity in the gardening world. Vines can add a finishing touch to any landscape, by providing color and vertical interest. Vines are ideal for hiding eyesores, providing privacy, softening the monotony of plain fencing and transforming a plain arbor or pergola into a focal point of your garden. They are also the perfect choice in tight spaces since they grow vertically. Most require low maintenance and often draw the attention of colorful butterflies and delightful little hummingbirds.

Consider these show-stoppers for an amazing show:

An easy-to-grow, flowering climbing vine that is a favorite of both seasoned and beginner gardeners due to its versatile beauty. This summer-bloomer is available in a colorful variety. Try 'Malaya Garnet' (rose), 'Jackmanii' (purple), 'Henri' (white), 'Ernest Markham' (fuschia), 'Multi Blue' (purple-blue). These beloved vines look beautiful cascading over walls and fences or winding their way up trellises, pillars and mailboxes. Clematis is sure to dazzle year after year. Grows best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.

Madison Jasmine
This easy-to-grow, evergreen climber produces beautiful clusters of starry flowers you can smell from feet away. The butter cream blooms are what makes this evergreen vine stand out in a crowd. 'Madison' is a cold hardy variety with glossy, dark green leaves that change to a rich bronze-red in winter. Madison offers year-round beauty... especially in summer when it's flowering! It's the perfect addition to any trellis or arbor, or planted along a fence. Prefers full to partial sun and rich soil well-drainage soil.

Mandelvilla is a true summer favorite! This blooming annual vine offers stunning trumpet-shape flowers in shades of pink, white, or red paired with dark green foliage. These vines are a perfect way of creating a lush, tropical look in a flash. Mandevilla is fast growing and blooms heaviest in summer and periodically throughout the rest of the year. Mandevilla does great in containers and is the ideal on trellises, arbors or gazebos. This plant can also be used as a houseplant if provided with bright light and care. Prefers full to partial sun and rich, well-drained soil.

Carolina Jasmine
This evergreen shrub offers fragrant one-inch golden yellow trumpet-shaped flowers in early spring. Although this vine has already had it's peak blooming season this spring, you may get lucky and enjoy a sparser second bloom in mild autumn weather. Each plant can grow 10 to 20 feet tall, dependent on the height of its vertical support. The lustrous green leaves are 1 to 3 inches long and will develop a slight yellow-green or purple-green cast in winter.