Those of us who try to stock our gardens with a variety hummingbird nectar plants are constantly on the lookout for something new. Too often, this quest leads us to nonnative plants while overlooking native plants. One of these native plants, the lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata), may actually be blooming in your yard. In fact, I found a few lyreleaf sage plants blooming in my yard.
The lyreleaf sage grows in a wide variety of locations. It can be found anywhere from open woods, roadsides, lawns, damp meadows to dry waste sites. In spite of the fact that the plant displays beautiful lavender blossoms on a slender stalk (1-2 feet tall) it is often overlooked. In fact, many homeowners consider it a weed and mow it down.
Lyreleaf sage begins blooming as early in February in some parts of Georgia and will continue blooming into May. One of the reasons I am so fond of this plant is it provides hummingbirds with a source of nectar early in the spring when nectar is often scarce. The plant also attracts butterflies and bees to its nectar-laden showy blooms.
The plant readily reseeds often forming robust colonies. However, as with many roadside and pasture plants, mowing often hinders its ability to reproduce.
If you are fond of salvias, you will love this native salvia. Although its blossoms are small, they are every bit as beautiful as the salvias the grace our gardens.
Although you can purchase lyreleaf sage seeds, they are often pricey. I have seen 20 seeds cost more than six dollars. Before you go out and buy some lyreleaf salvia seeds, explore your yard, there is a chance it has been hiding there in plain sight. If you do not locate it, I honestly believe it would be worthwhile spending a little money to get it established.
When most gardeners think about adding plants that provide nectar to hummingbirds to their gardens, often native plants are overlooked.
There are many reasons why natives are desirable additions to any garden. These special plants help restore the diversity of native plants to the areas where they are planted. This is extremely important to the untold numbers of animals that depend on native plants for their survival. They are also as attractive as ornamentals, are often drought tolerant, more resistant to insect pests, and require little, if any pruning.
I hope you will add some of the 10 of the plants listed below to your garden. Believe me, if you do, you will soon be wondering why you did not do so years ago.
Bee Balm (Oswego Tea) (Monarda didyma) – Type of Plant – perennial; Height – 1 to 5 feet; Blooms – June to September; Soil – moist to well drained; Light – full sun to partial shade.
Buckeye, Red (Aesculus pavia) – Type of Plant – shrub or small tree; Height – 20+ feet; Blooms – March to May; Soil – well drained, moist soil types are best; Light – partial shade to full sun.
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) – Type of Plant– short-lived perennial; Height – 1-8 feet; Blooms – midsummer; Soil – well-drained, moist to dry soil types; Light – full sun to partial shade.
Columbine, Eastern (Aquilegia canadensis) – Type of Plant – short-lived perennial; Height – 1-3 feet; Blooms – late winter to early spring; Soil – well drained, moist; Light – partial shade to partial sun.
Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) – Type of Plant – Perennial vine; Length – 16 feet; Blooms – mainly March – September, will bloom throughout most of the year in some locales; Soil – moist to dry soils; Light – full sun to light shade.
Horsemint (Monarda fistulosa) – Type of Plant – perennial; Height – 1 to 5 feet; Blooms – June to September; Soil – dry to well drained; Light – partial shade to full sun.
Jewelweed (Touch-Me-Not) (Impatiens capensis) – Type of Plant – Annual herb; Height – 2 to 5 feet; Blooms – May to October; Soil – well drained, moist; Light – shade to partial sun.
Redbud (Cercis canadensis) – Type of Plant -shrub to small tree; Height – up to 35 feet; Blooms – late winter to early spring; Soil – dry to well drained; Light – partial shade to full sun.
Sage, Scarlet (Salvia coccinea) – Type of Plant – Annual; Height – 2 to 3 feet; Blooms – from late spring throughout the summer; Soil – dry to moist well drained; Light – full sun.
Trumpet Creeper (Hummingbird Vine) (Campsis radicans) – Type of Plant – woody vine; Length – 36 or more feet; Blooms – summer; Soil – moist to dry; Light – light shade to full sun.
Help Hummingbirds and Other Native Wildlife
If you are interested in helping hummingbirds, butterflies and other Georgia wildlife, earn certification in the Community Wildlife Project’s Hummingbird Haven and Gardening with Georgia Native Plants initiatives. For more information contact: Melissa Hayes at 478-994-1438 or email@example.com
Interest in incorporating native plants into home landscapes has never been greater. However, homeowners often tell me they want to plant natives in their yards; however, they simply cannot find them.
Indeed, this is a problem in many areas in the state. It seems most nurseries stock few, if any native plant. However, there are nurseries that sell native when. The problem is most people do not know who or where they are.
In an effort to remedy this situation, I am creating a list of nurseries that sell plants native to Georgia.
The first nursery on the list is Vincent Gardens (vincentgardens.com). This nursery is located in Douglas, Georgia.
While plants can be bought at the nursery, they do a brisk mail order business.
When you visit their colorful and informative website, you will find scores of plants; most of these plants are native to Georgia. Each plant has some value to wildlife.
Most plants are illustrated with a color photo. Accompanying the photo is a details description of the plant’s foliage type, hardiness zone, light preference, mature height and growth type, soil preference, blooming time, wildlife use, and whether or not it is a larval host plant.
Oaks are among the very best native wild food plants. The trees themselves are used as a host plant by well more than 500 species of moths and butterflies. If that is not enough, their seeds (acorns) provide food for scores of birds and mammals, many of which inhabit out backyard.
As such, it is not surprising many homeowners want one or more oaks growing in their yards. The problem is it takes a long time to produce a crop of acorns. Laurel oaks usually do not produce their first acorn until they are 15-20 years old. Water oaks bear acorns in around 20 years. On the other end of the scale, scarlet, southern red and white oaks can take 50 or more years before they sport their first acorns.
With that in mind, when clearing a lot for a new home or simply opening up an existing yard, try to leave an oak that might shortly or already bearing acorns.
If you do not already have an oak on your property, go ahead and plant one. Although it might take what seems like a very long time before you will see its first acorn, realize time flies by quicker than you might think. In the meantime, think about all of the moths and butterflies that will be raised on your tree before it matures.