Outstanding Mississippi Native Plants for Fall Planting Projects – Picayune

Outstanding Mississippi Native Plants for Fall Planting Projects

Posted at 1:02 p.m. on Monday, September 5, 2022

By Patricia Drackett

Director of the Crosby Arboretum and

Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Extension in the Extension Service at Mississippi State University.

Fingers crossed that cooler temperatures make an appearance before too long, here’s hoping we get cooler weather to spend some time outdoors tackling some fall landscape projects to spruce up at court and to prepare us for this fast approaching holiday season. Fill containers with colorful, low-maintenance perennials on your porch or in your driveway, or include new shrubs or trees with colorful flowers, fruits or leaves that will spark seasonal interest next year.

Planting during the dormant season in fall and winter will give you an extended period of time for the roots to become established before warm weather returns. And what better place to find a fine selection of native Mississippi plants that will thrive in our local conditions than the Crosby Arboretum Fall Plant Sale? Over the next month and a half we will be busy sourcing plant material and adding some finishing touches to the trees, shrubs and perennials we have grown this year. We are happy to create an exceptional selection of plants for local gardeners, especially where we can locate fruit-bearing species such as mulberry, native plums, mayhaw and American persimmon.

We’ve always been on the lookout for Bigleaf magnolias. It is always a popular tree at the Arboretum plant sales. You can see an example of one of these deciduous magnolias as you cross the first bridge on our arrival trip and approach the visitor center. The leaves of bigleaf magnolias can be up to three feet in length. The tree also has stunning spring blooms.

Ashe’s magnolia is similar in appearance to the bigleaf magnolia, but has shorter leaves, up to two feet in length. It produces flowers on much younger plants than the large-leaved magnolia, which can take 10 to 15 years to produce a flower. An Ashe magnolia, however, can begin flowering in just four years. Both magnolia species prefer rich, moist, well-drained soil and are at home in the forest understory, although full sun produces a more upright plant with more abundant blooms.

Oakleaf hydrangea and native azaleas are popular garden shrubs that we always try to offer at our fall sales. The oakleaf hydrangea has large, coarse-textured leaves and beautiful clusters of white flowers. In the fall, their scarlet hues raise the temperature of your garden.

Native azaleas, like typical ornamental azaleas, do not tolerate drought conditions or low, poorly drained areas well. They prefer moist, well-drained acidic conditions and appreciate the changing shade of the treetops. Shrubs will also thrive when given a layer of composted leaf litter or pine straw to help retain soil moisture.

On your next walk through the Arboretum, pay close attention to where you see native azaleas thriving, such as along the edges of our water features and along our trails. Next, locate your own native azaleas in similar conditions.

Grancy’s Gray Beard is an old favourite, also known as Fringe Tree. It has unusual airy white fringed flowers that brighten up the spring garden. It has a sweet but not overpowering scent and works well in the wildlife garden or as a specimen tree. Although it too prefers moist, well-drained soil, it will tolerate drier conditions.

Many of the shrubs we tend to offer make excellent choices for your wildlife garden – for example, Beautyberry, which now graces local roadsides, is turning heads with its bright magenta fruits clustered in balls around rods. It is an undemanding shrub, easy to grow in sun or shade. Arrowwood birch, winter holly, ink holly and dahoon holly are also attractive shrubs and reliable berry producers.

These are just a few of the many selections we plan to offer at the Fall Native Plant Sale in October. Whatever your passion, we guarantee that if you come, you will inevitably find some new favorites and some valuable landscaping advice as well! Arboretum staff and volunteers, including Pearl River County Master Gardeners, will be on hand during the sale to consult with you on your property’s site conditions and make planting recommendations. The sale will be held around the loop behind the visitor center. Use our service entrance and follow the instructions in the sales and pick-up area. Members can access the sales area one hour earlier than the general public each day.

We are currently working on our fall programming schedule, slated for release the first week of September, and look forward to the return of our mainstream events such as BugFest (Friday and Saturday October 7th and 8th), an Open Mic Saturday evening, October 15, the Native Fall Plant Sale on Friday and Saturday, October 21 and 22, and our Piney Woods Heritage Festival scheduled for Saturday, November 19.

Come for a walk along the paths of the Arboretum. Finish by enjoying the fall flowers in the Savanna Exhibit and Southern Pitcher Plant Bog. Pets on a leash are always welcome. For more information, please check our Facebook page or website calendar at http://crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu/ or sign up to receive email updates. Call the office at 601-799-2311 to register for classes and guarantee your spot. The Crosby Arboretum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune at I-59 exit 4.

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