Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Support PBS Shop PBS Search PBS



Grow: Plants & Vegetables

Spring-Flowering Shrubs and Trees for the South

Horticulturist Dan Gill took Michael Weishan on a tour through the New Orleans Botanical Garden to point out some excellent choices for spring-flowering shrubs and trees that will brighten up any landscape in the South.

Indian hawthorne

Rhaphiolepsis indica
Indian hawthorne
There are many different cultivars of Indian hawthorne. This particular variety is a great shrub for the southeast and is a good example of the larger cultivars, growing to about six to eight feet tall. Requiring full sun, it has big leaves and bright pink flowers in the spring.

Indian hawthorne

Rhaphiolepsis indica cv.
Indian hawthorne
This dwarf variety of Indian hawthorne is more common and more popular. It is an evergreen plant so it maintains its appearance year round. It requires full sun and grows lower to the ground, creating a nice mounding shape. Although this cultivar has no fragrance, its white flowers brighten up the landscape and remain in bloom for about three to four weeks, typical of most flowering shrubs.


Magnolia x soulangiana
Magnolias are commonly used in the Deep South. This oriental magnolia is deciduous and, instead of the usual pink flowers, has a great creamy yellow color that breeders try very hard to produce. Its flowers come out before its foliage, which really shows off the blooms. For the rest of the year, 'Elizabeth' makes a nice green leafy tree.

Chinese witch hazel

Loropetalum chinensis
Chinese witch hazel
Related to native southern witch hazels, Chinese witch hazel has recently become very popular. Witch hazel has been grown in the South before with green leaves and white flowers. But cultivars were later discovered in China with bronze leaves and pink to fuscia flowers. Chinese witch hazel grows into a nice large plant and can be used as a screen or can be kept trimmed down as a smaller shrub. Easy to grow in full sun to part shade, this plant requires good drainage, so low wet areas should be avoided.

Pacific tea plant

Leptospermum scoparium
Pacific tea plant
The Pacific tea plant is a shrub with double red flowers and burgundy bronze foliage. Its blooms last for about six to eight weeks, with a few more flowers blooming in late summer and fall. It absolutely requires good drainage and full sun. Outdoors, the Pacific tea plant is not that hardy above Zone 8, but it can be grown up North in a pot.

Sweet Olive

Osmanthus fragrans
sweet olive
Sweet olive is relatively slow-growing, but has a wonderful fragrance that comes from its tiny flowers. The flowers themselves are not very noticeable or showy, but the sweet subtle fragrance they emit is intense and spreads over a large area. Sweet olive normally comes into bloom in September or October and then blooms intermittently all the way through the winter until April. Very easy to grow, sweet olive needs full to partial sun.

For more information on resources used on the show, visit our Resource Directory

This segment appears in show #2802.

Published August 31, 2007