Native Plants

North Carolina Native Flowering Shrubs for Your Garden

North Carolina is one of the top producers of flowers in the United State. Shrubs are a great way to help your landscape maintain color and texture all year. They are easy to grow and maintain; you can even rely on them to be around for years. Many shrubs can be used in landscapes, ranging from small bushes to tall trees. Whatever type of native shrub you choose, you can be sure they are well adapted to North Carolina’s climate.

Azalea

Azaleas are one of the most common native shrubs used in landscaping. They are easy to grow and so colorful that you won’t even want to use them in your landscape. They can be used as a border to make a path or flowerbed look more beautiful, or you can use them next to your home’s foundation for a pop of color. Azaleas do best in moist soil, so adding mulch around the roots should help prevent wilting during hot summer days. However, if your azalea does wilt due to lack of water, take it indoors until it begins to recover. Be sure to add plenty of fertilizer to your azalea once a month for growth, and if you notice it is not growing, check the label for nitrogen.

Spring is the best time to plant azaleas because it is so mild here in North Carolina. Azaleas should be planted in full sun. You can plant them up higher than any other shrubs, but remember that they need 12 hours of direct sunlight daily. Once planted, they will need two months to get established before they can be pruned back and trained into your landscape.

Goldenrod

Goldenrods are another one of North Carolina’s most famous native shrubs. They are beautiful in the late summer when their yellow blooms begin to show through tall, green leaves. They can be used in multiple ways, as a border for other plants or bushes or as a standalone shrub in your backyard. Goldenrod blooms best with plenty of water and fertilizer, so if you find you have more goldenrod than you know what to do with, harvest them for flower arrangements. Goldenrods do well in moist soil and will not survive the dry ground. They will not survive in full sun, so find a sunny, moist area of your garden and plant them there. They should be planted in late spring or early summer, so they have time to become accustomed to their new home before winter.

Dogwood

North Carolina’s dogwoods are well known for being fragrant and beautiful in the fall. The flowers are real show-stoppers, especially when they add colorful red, orange, and yellow to your seasonal flowerbeds. Like other native shrubs, dogwoods do best in moist soil with a thick layer of mulch to help minimize the risk of soil erosion. Remember that dogs will not tolerate poor drainage, so you can’t go over water them. Dogwoods can quickly become overwhelmed by exposure to too much sun so keep them cut back from the ground to prevent burning. Dogwoods should be planted during spring, so they have time to learn their new homes before summer arrives. You can prune them into any shape you like.

Mountain Laurel

The mountain laurel is a beautiful native shrub that attracts hummingbirds because of its colorful blooms and sweet nectar. The mountain laurel grows best in well-drained soil with a thick layer of mulch to help prevent weeds from stealing nutrients from the plant. The mountain laurel will not tolerate full sun so make sure you put it in an area that stays shaded most of the day while still receiving some sunlight in the morning and evening hours. You may need to use stakes if your plant is starting to get too large for its space. The mountain laurel is a shrub that takes time to grow, so you can expect it to be around for years and years.

Blueberry Heather

The blueberry heather is another shrub that grows well in North Carolina’s coastal areas. It can be used as a shrub border between other plants and bushes, or you can plant this shrub alone for a beautiful, blue hue in your garden. Blueberry heather should be pruned back to about 4-6 inches from the ground during late winter or early spring, so it has time to recover before summer arrives. They do best in sandy soils with little to no fertility, so add plenty of compost and fertilizer to help your plant grow. Another important factor is sunlight because the blueberry heather does not tolerate direct sunlight but still needs some sunlight daily.

Mountain Mint

The mountain mint is perfect for North Carolina’s high elevations because it requires a lot of light and moisture. It is a shrub perfect for sunny slopes and sunny decks. You can plant it alone, or you can plant it in groups as a beautiful accent plant in your flower garden. One can prune to any shape you desire. The mountain mint thrives in sandy sites and sun, so ensure it is planted in an area protected from too much sun.

Dwarf American Hazelnut

Native hazelnuts are well known for their handy size, which makes them perfect for containers and planters between other plants or as a standalone tree if the soil is fertile enough to support one. Dwarf American hazelnuts need plenty of nutrients, so be sure to add fertilizer throughout the summer to help them grow and thrive. They are good candidates for pots and container gardens, or they can be used as a small-sized trees in a larger landscape.

Rosemary

Rosemary grows best in well-drained soil with plenty of compost added to the area before planting. It prefers full sun but will tolerate low light conditions as well. The rosemary shrub does very well in containers and can be pruned into any shape you desire during late winter or early spring. One should plant the rosemary in the fall to give it time to become accustomed to its new home before summer arrives.

Sweet Bay Magnolia

The sweet bay magnolia is a shrub with fragrant white flowers that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your landscape. They do well in full sun but will also tolerate areas with low light conditions. It can be pruned at any time during the growing season, but it has an irregular growth pattern, so cut back each year to keep the sweet bay magnolia from getting too large for its space. The sweet bay magnolia is not considered a native species, so it should be used sparingly in landscapes rather than as an accent color or primary shrub.

Spirea Rose

The spirea rose is a beautiful shrub that will be a perfect accent plant in any garden. It will grow best in places that receive direct sunlight, but the spirea can survive without direct sunlight, so it can also be used as a low-light shrub. The spirea looks best when it’s pruned close to the ground during late winter or early spring, giving it enough time to grow and recover before summer arrives. The soil pH level should also be tested when planting this shrub, as it does not do well in acidic soil areas, so experiment with adding iron sulfate to encourage growth, if needed.

Blue Blossoming Raspberry

Blue flowering raspberries are perfect for sunny areas of your landscape with little to no fertility added to the area before planting. Small shrubs do well independently or as a background plant in more extensive beds and gardens. The blue raspberry plant should be pruned regularly, usually during late winter or early spring if you live in a colder area of the country. They can be planted in any extensive container soil as long as it is well-drained, but never use potting soil because it is too heavy and will not allow the moisture to drain out of the container properly.

Carolina Laurel Cherry

Carolina laurel cherries are trees with a light pink color in the spring that mature into dark green leaves in summer. The Carolina laurel cherries can be pruned any time during the year, except if you are trying to encourage new growth on a woody plant. They do well in full sun but will also tolerate some partial shade. These trees need fertile soil, so be sure to add compost to improve the area before planting them.

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly bushes are found in many yards throughout the United States, and most people love the butterfly bush for its ability to attract butterflies to a home year-round. They are fast-growing shrubs but do best in full sun without shade from surrounding plants. One should prune the butterfly bush during late winter or early spring while they’re still dormant before new growth has sprouted from their branches. They can also be pruned during summer if you wish to encourage new growth and more muscular branches on older leaves that may die off after flowering is over for the season.