June 7, 2014
In the woods and fields of Mississippi, there are beautiful native plants that are also right at home in our gardens and landscapes. In this state, we're all familiar with pink indica azalea. But there are also several varieties of native azaleas, which typically begin to bloom in late March on nearly naked stems. The flowers can be up to 1½ inches across, but it's the way the stamens and pistil extend out of the flower that I find most attractive. The late afternoon back-lighting on these false tailed bracken ferns creates an almost ethereal glow. The upright growth of cinnamon fern has a strong vertical texture; while the fertile fronds resemble cinnamon sticks that look almost good enough to eat. Multiflora rose is a scrambling plant that is often seen on fence rows and on the edge of woodlands. The flowers are produced in large white to pink clusters beginning in late spring to early summer. A great plant found in wet areas is blue flag iris. These flowers are a light violet-blue with a yellow patch towards the petal base. Each petal has artistic dark veins streaking the petals. A bright yellow flower that is a favorite of mine belongs to coreopsis. Commonly called tickseed, this flower brightens roadsides and is the state wildflower of Mississippi. A popular late spring bloomer is blue phlox. Despite the name the flower color ranges from blue to lavender and pink. Now when you see these plants don't dig them up. Ask your local garden center for these Mississippi native plants for your landscape. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.