Charleston, South Carolina is one of the oldest and largest cities in the country, and when we say most significant, we aren’t just talking about population. This city also has some of the most gorgeous and healthy plants as well.
Whether you are looking for a few new additions to your Charleston landscape, or you’re paying a visit to this city and hope to catch some of the local flora, this checklist can serve as a guide to some of the most beautiful native plants in the city.
1. Southern Magnolia
Scientific name: Magnolia grandiflora
Range: Coastal plains north to Philadelphia
Sun: Partial shade
Soil: Prefers rich, acidic soils
Height: up to 100 feet
Bloom Time: April-June
The southern magnolia is one of the gorgeous native trees of the south. An evergreen tree with a straight trunk and large, fragrant white flowers, it’s hard to confuse this tree for anything else. It is found in warm temperate and subtropical regions and is a favorite ornamental and shade tree.
2. Southern Lady Fern
Scientific name: Athyrium filix-femina
Range: Zones 6 to 8
Soil: Wet, acidic soils preferred
Height: Up to 6 feet
Bloom Time: Does not bloom
This delicate fern prefers moist, shaded areas and can be found in many eastern woodland landscapes. It is easy to grow and produces lime green fiddleheads in the spring, which last throughout the fall.
Scientific name: Coreopsis auriculata
Range: East of the Mississippi River as far north as Virginia
Sun: Full sun
Soil: Acidic soils preferred
Height: 4-24 inches
Bloom Time: April to May, but produces flowers until frost
This hardy flower in the aster family produces hairy leaves and bright yellow flowers. The foliage of this gorgeous plant produces well throughout the winter and produces compact clusters of plants. Coreopsis is a heat-tolerant plant that can grow in just about any soil type, attracting both butterflies and songbirds.
4. Red Maple
Scientific Name: Acer rubrum
Range: As far north as Maine and as far south as Florida, primarily East Coast states
Sun: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Acidic to neutral
Height: Up to 100 feet
Bloom Time: March and April
The red maple is a large tree that thrives throughout much of the country, with the greatest north-south distribution of all tree species along the East Coast. It grows well in all soils but prefers acidic, moist conditions, making it a good fit for the Charleston area. It produces brilliant fall foliage, ranging in color from a vibrant red to a yellow or greenish-yellow.
5. Virginia Creeper
Scientific name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Range: Zones 5 to 11
Sun: Any sunlight level tolerated
Soil: Moist soils preferred
Height: Up to 40 feet
Bloom Time: May and June
This woody deciduous vine appears in a variety of settings, ranging from high-climbing pursuits to trailing tendrils. It can reach up to forty feet in height and produces luxurious green foliage. It is similar in appearance to poison ivy but produces vibrant berries. These berries are not edible but do attract native birds.
6. Inkberry Holly
Scientific name: Ilex coriacea
Range: From Florida north to Virginia
Sun: Partial shade
Soil: Moist, sandy soil preferred
Height: Up to 15 feet
Bloom Time: March, April, May
Also known as the Baygall bush, this evergreen shrub can grow up to fifteen feet in height and is often mistaken for a tree. It produces modest flowers and shiny-black fruit before maturing in late summer. Its white flowers, along with its fruit, tend to attract a variety of wildlife, including birds and butterflies. It thrives in moist, sandy soils, such as those found in sandy woods or along the banks of streams. It is a favorite landscaping plant among many Charleston gardeners as well.
Need help picking out the best plants for your next landscape project? Visit our Charleston lawn care page for more information!