For years, I have gone to big box stores and bought flowers and vegetables that I thought either looked pretty or would taste well. Now that I have grown older, I finally have realized the merits of using native plants.
First, there is a hard to describe benefit in creating a landscape that is not dictated by Home Depot or Lowes, but by history and mother nature. Native plants have been adapted by mother nature and our ancestors to our soil and climate. Therefore, they take little maintenance and are often much more drought tolerant than non-natives.
Also, these native species prove to be the most beneficial to the many animals that call South Carolina home. One example would be our bees who are struggling to survive because row crops and urban development do not provide nourishment.
Therefore, I have found a few fall flowers as part one on a series of articles that suggest native flowers and vegetables for every season. I have done this because I find it important to encourage the use of native South Carolina plants, shrubs, vines, and trees in hopes of bettering our environment, by providing reference material to interested gardeners, and by educating people on what South Carolina used to look like prior to large-scale human alteration of the environment.
Included with each flower is a corresponding link to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which provides excellent information on the wildflowers of North America.
Note: Autumn flowers often are ones that are still blooming from summer. Therefore, this is a list that tries to focus on a small handful of native flowers that are brilliant mainly in the autumn.
- Tall Goldrenrod (Solidago altissima) – This perennial flower provides colorful blooms in autumn that complement many other fall plants. This variety, pictured above, happens to be the state wildflower. This variety can mature to anywhere from 1 – 7 feet in height. This plant can become weedy and is very aggressive, so be careful in where you plant it. Goldenrod can provide color even into November. Bees, butterflies, wasps, and beetles are often attracted to the flowers of this plant. Wildflower Center Link
- New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) – This perennial flower would be a perfect complement to the Tall Goldenrod from above. The New England Aster grows to anywhere from 2 – 6 feet in height, with lavender petals that surround a yellow center. Yet again, another great attraction for bees and butterflies. The Wildflower Center also specifies that this plant is a supplier of nectar for Monarch butterflies (as seen below), which is just all the more reason to make room for these in your landscape. Wildflower Center Link
- Common Sneezeweed, Autumn Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) – This native perennial is an awesome supply of color in autumn, with its deep and vibrant red hues. The flower grows from 2 – 5 feet in height, requires moist soil, and an abundance of sun. You guessed it, this last one is a hit with our pollinator friends as well. Wildflower Center Link