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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - July 12, 2009

From: Spartanburg, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Replacing non-natives and kudzu in Spartanburg SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would dearly love to cut down the red tips and leland cypress, as well as the 2 Savannah hollies and 15 ft cleyera which the kudzu has overrun along my property line, get rid of a chunk of lawn and plant native trees and shrubs. There are oaks, sweet gum, and tulip poplar across the creek and I figure I have maybe a 50' circle to plant in the corner of my property (which is about an acre). What trees & shrubs (and how many) should I plant that would not overwhelm the house but would create a natural woodsy area?

ANSWER:

We congratulate you on plans to remove the non-native plants and (ugh) kudzu from your property. This is going to be a big undertaking, and we assume you will not be trying to plant any of the new native plants during the heat of summer. In South Carolina, late Fall or early Spring would be the best time for putting in the new plants. You want to let new roots get well-established before extreme heat or extreme cold come along. However, you can certainly start making plans, measuring, deciding what will go where, in between bursts of taking out the old stuff and disposing of it. 

Your question is pretty complex, and we really don't know where you need sun or shade, how much room you have or what, so allow us to introduce you to our Native Plants Database. We will give you a few examples of our suggestions, but you can find so many more and answer other questions you will think of as you look at possibilities. Since we also don't know how experienced a gardener you are, we suggest you read a How-To Article that will help you get started: A Guide to Native Plant Gardening  will do for starters. If you would like to look at our other How-To Articles, just click on How To Articles under Explore Plants.

To begin your search, go to Recommended Species, click on South Carolina on the map. Under Narrow Your Search, you can select "herbs" (herbaceous blooming plants), "shrubs" or "trees" under Habit. You can also indicate your Light Requirements in this search. We consider "sun" to be six hours or more of sun daily, "part shade" 2 to 6 hours of sun daily, and "shade" less than 2 hours of sun daily. For our example, we will search on "shrubs" and shade or part shade. When we did this, we got 30 possbilities of shrubs native to South Carolina. From these, we chose four as examples, all of which will grow well in either sun or part shade. You find out all about these plants by following the plant link, and going to the webpage for each plant. Under "Growing Conditions" you will learn what kind of soil this plant does best in, how much water it needs, and sun requirements. Under "Benefits" you will find out what wildlife this plant attracts. Then, go on to repeat the process for yourself, looking at more shrubs or herbs and trees until you find the perfect plants for your empty spots.

Shrubs for South Carolina

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) - 3 to 5 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms white, pink May to July, part shade, purple berries provide for wildlife in late Fall and early Winter

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) - 6 to 12 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms white, pink June to September, part shade or shade, nectar for butteflies, berries for birds

Hydrangea arborescens (wild hydrangea) - 3 to 6 ft. tall, blooms white June to August, part shade

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry) - 4 to 6 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms white, green April to July, part shade or shade


Callicarpa americana

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Hydrangea arborescens

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

 

 

 

 

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