Resource item

Perennials that appreciate hot and humid coastal summers! – Picayune Item

By Patricia Drackett

Director of the Crosby Arboretum and

Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Extension at Mississippi State University Extension Service

In celebration of the upcoming Crosby Arboretum Pollinator Plant Flash Sale taking place Saturday, June 4 from 10:00 a.m. to noon, this column will cover some of the top performing perennials that are not only easy to care for, but also attractive to pollinators. Planting plants that are beneficial to birds and pollinators will also increase the visual interest of your garden, making it come alive with movement for you and your visitors.

Today at the Arboretum, we saw several species of butterflies in the garden and the pollinator greenhouse. Teresa Covington, Green Team volunteer and Pearl River County Master Gardener, expertly snapped a photo of one of these winged gems as it paused in the greenhouse, and Patti Murphy, member of the team and PRC master gardener, showed us a recent photo she took of a viceroy butterfly. . Viceroys are a lot like monarch butterflies, and sometimes it can be hard to get them to sit still long enough to tell the difference!

Many of the perennials you’ll see in our sale will thrive in the heat and humidity of summer. You will also find flowering shrubs, including several species of ave azaleas. If your garden has areas that stay continually moist, you’ll be happy to know that we’ll carry many species that will thrive in moist sites, such as Southern Blue Iris, Texas Star Hibiscus, Coastal Coreopsis, mountain mint, the cardinal flower. , and the Stokes aster.

The green team has propagated a table full of Texas star hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus), and we’ll have both the red and white (‘Alba’) form for sale. Although this plant usually dies to the ground each year, it quickly regrows in the spring. Locate this plant at the back of your bed, where it will be a magnificent specimen and so you won’t notice when it dies. The American crinum lily is another amazing, high-performing native perennial that loves moist conditions. This plant will come in and out from mid spring to late fall

Southern blue flag iris is an iconic Arboretum plant and a favorite of low-maintenance gardens, common to rich, moist soils in coastal wetlands and where water stands year-round. Purple or blue flowers come in different hues. The plant typically grows two to three feet tall, although it can reach four feet or more. The Southern Blue Flag blooms most profusely in full sun in moist locations and with shifting shade. It is very easy to propagate by division or seed.

Native irises provide a tapestry of shades of purple blooms in spring. This perennial is abundant among the herbaceous plants that line the Piney Woods Pond and Slough exhibit. American crinum and native iris are perennials that will do equally well in ordinary garden soil, if care is taken to provide extra water during dry spells, and both will spread easily from the seeds that follow.

A tip for keeping your property robust in the summer is to include moisture-loving species in these wet areas, as they will have water available to withstand potential dry spells. Many plants that grow in moist soil will also do just fine in regular garden soil. Just remember to keep tabs on your new acquisitions during their first year, though. Provide additional water as needed for them to become established. Once they have developed a good root system, they can then begin to live up to their “drought tolerance” reputation.

Our goal at the Arboretum is to provide gardeners with hardy, reliable and low maintenance plants at our sales, those that are well suited to beginning gardeners, are easy to propagate and will continue to grow in your garden. Although some of the most striking native species such as oakleaf hydrangea, large-leaved magnolia, native ‘honeysuckle’ azaleas and mountain laurel can be temperamental, they will reward you for being glorious in the garden. . The key to any plant’s success is to provide it with the environmental conditions it prefers. Next time you are at the Arboretum, pick up one of our resource documents at the information booth out front which lists many websites to help you identify and learn more about the species. plants that will thrive in our coastal environment.

We are working on our summer program schedule, which will be released soon. In June, we are planning an introductory beekeeping program on Friday, June 17 from 10-11 a.m. and an introductory birding course on Saturday, June 18. For more information, check out our calendar at or the Arboretum’s Facebook page. Additionally, you can subscribe to our mailing list to receive notices of upcoming events. Crosby Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, off I-59 exit 4, and is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.