The South's Top Pass-Along Plants
The South is the heart of camellia country. Indeed, common camellia (Camellia japonica) is Alabama’s state flower. Although it seems these beautiful plants must have been born here, in truth they hail from eastern and southern Asia. More than 3,000 named kinds of camellias exist, in a remarkable range of colors, forms, and sizes; they are not browsed by deer.
No plant expresses the grace of the South better than gardenia. Intensely fragrant white blossoms contrast beautifully with shiny, leathery dark green leaves. Double forms are classic corsage flowers. In borders, gardenias need good drainage and acid soil containing lots of organic matter. Plant them high (like azaleas and rhododendrons) and don’t let them be crowded by other plants or competing roots. Mulch plants instead of cultivating; feed every 3 to 4 weeks during the growing season with acid fertilizer, fish emulsion, or blood meal. Prune to remove straggly branches and faded flowers. Control whiteflies, aphids, and other sucking insects with light horticultural oil.
Garden secret: Tuck them into the back corner of a garden for endless fragrance at summer's end. Tall plants may require staking.