Monday, April 18, 2011

This for That, or, Peonies Like Chill

Some plants I would really like to grow just will not perform in sandy soil under hot, humid conditions without a certain amount of winter chill.

It is a challenge to replicate an effect using plants that will grow in our southerneastern zone 8b. Here are some of the substitutions I make.

Lilacs: substitute Loropetalums. Crape Myrtle is often suggested, but Crepes bloom mid-summer. Neither of these suggested substitutes have the fragrant effect of lilacs, however.

Delphinium: use annual Larkspur Consolida ajacis.
Tulips: Iceland poppies for early, Hippeastrum for late combos.

Sedum Acre with Laura Bush Petunias

Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s mantle) –- For chartreuse color effect use:  Margarita sweet potato vine, Lime mound spirea, Sedum acre, Alternanthera ‘Chartreuse,' Duranta.

Campanula (bellflower): use Ruellia instead

Native Baptista
Lupine:  Baptisia

Peony: Hibiscus -- again we're substituting a summer plant for a late spring Peony. Double Papaver  somniferum might be a better 'Peony.'

Primula: substitute Violas, winter to spring.

Native azalea 'Alabamense' from Neel Garden
Rhododendron: Clerodendrum bungei is a summer substitute. Native azaleas, also in the Rhododendron family are good spring alternatives. Camellias are another substitute if a large shrub is needed.

This for That, from Schoolhouse Rock:


  1. The This for That video was cute. Seems to work that way with plant divisions too, this for that.

  2. Hi NJ, good post - we can never grow everything we like - like life I guess, can't have everything we want! So those substitutions are really useful. cheers, cm

  3. Planting the seeds in November helps a lot too, That's when I sow my poppies and larkspur.

  4. This rang a a bell with me! I have tried for years to grow delphiniums...many dollars later, I realized it is not possible for me.
    I am even having trouble getting larkspurs back!

    I stay away from high-acid requiring or high moisture requiring plants too. One blueberry out of three made it through winter.

  5. Lovely blooms in your garden. I wish could grow them here in my garden!

  6. Oh, your native azalea is beautiful! Love the white blooms. I have never seen a white one like that - gorgeous!

  7. Interesting post. I don't have a whole lot of flowers in my garden (mostly veggies), partly due to lack of space and partly because of intimidation. It's nice to see examples of working around your zone "limitations."

  8. cute video... gorgeous blossoms!

  9. The native azalea 'Alabamanse' photo is one I took last year at the Neel Garden. I do have a small Alabamense but not nearly so spectacular, and another native that was mislabeled. It blooms solid yellow.

  10. A wonderful posting. I guess I complain about some of the plants I cannot grow here because of the cold and never think about the problems those who live in the warmer zones would have with certain plants that need a cold spell.
    The double Poppy is gorgeous!

  11. Those are some really very helpful substitutions. Always helpful when you are a northerner who moves to the south (like me).

    This for that? Seems the same way it is today.

  12. That is very creative for you to find all those substitutions. Living in South Florida, we can grow lots of things, but also have lots of limitations. I think I learned to accept that, and grow only what we can.

  13. Those are so beautiful blooms, i realized it would be difficult to choose plants in those areas, that the characteristics of the plants should first be well understood for sametime blooms and complimentation. I love delphiniums as i even cross-stitched it before!

  14. Oh gosh, the grass is always greener. You have lovely blooms in your garden. Whilst visiting European country's with warmer climate than Scotland we would always be full of admiration for the plants that would not grow here. However the flowers last for so long in our relatively cool Summer, many from June through till October. I would manage to make good use of Bougainvillea though.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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