Georgia Gold Medal Plant Program

Georgia Natives

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Native AzaleasRhododendron ssp

  • Category Georgia Native
  • Winner for 2016
  • Hardiness
  • Conditions Part Shade

There are 12 species of azaleas that can be found in Georgia, varying from three to fifteen feet. Many of them are white but they also come in shades of pink, yellow, orange and red. When different species are near each other, they can hybridize naturally and create new colors. All of our native azaleas are deciduous.

The earliest native azaleas bloom before leaves emerge, making a beautiful display in the woodland garden, or against evergreens, a fence or a wall. Later blooming native azaleas bring color into the summer and fall garden. Native azaleas attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

Dwarf Oakleaf HydrangeasHydrangea quercifolia

  • Category Georgia Native
  • Winner for 2015
  • Hardiness
  • Conditions Part Sun to Part Shade

Same four seasons of interest as the larger oakleaf hydrangeas (large leaves, summer blooms, red fall foliage, and interesting winter bark), but in more compact forms that fit easily into home landscapes.

Rain LilyAtamasco lily

  • Category Georgia Native
  • Winner for 2014
  • Hardiness
  • Conditions Full Sun

Zephyranthes are native throughout the Americas. Atamasco Lily is the Zephyranthes that is native to Georgia, found in moist forests, bottomlands, seepy areas around rock outcrops, wet pastures and roadsides. Give it moisture and full sun and it will fit nicely into the home landscape. Appearing in March and April the show of flowers rise above the grass like foliage and is always a sweet surprise after a rain.

Pink Muhly grassMuhlenbergia capillaris

  • Category Georgia Native
  • Winner for 2013
  • Hardiness Zone 6 to 10
  • Conditions Full Sun to Part Shade

Muhly grass really shines in early fall, when a fine-textured pink cloud hovers above the green foliage, catching the breeze and the sunlight. This ‘cloud’ is actually the pink inflorescence – the flowers of this native grass. White-flowered cultivars are available, but the traditional soft pink species is most often found in area nurseries. Many improved selections of this lovely native grass are easy to find. All will age to a tan color and hold on to those flowering stems through winter. Cut back as new growth begins to emerge in the spring. This is also a good time for dividing the clumps. One mature muhly grass can be divided into many plants, and placed 18″ apart to create a dramatic groundcover.

Athens SweetshrubCalycanthus floridus

  • Category Georgia Native
  • Winner for 2012
  • Hardiness Zone 4 to 9
  • Conditions NULL

Old Man’s Beard Fringe TreeChionanthus virginicus

  • Category Georgia Native
  • Winner for 2011
  • Hardiness Zone 5 to 9
  • Conditions Full Sun to Part Shade

Chionanthus virginicus is native from eastern TX east and north to MD, including all counties in Georgia. Fringe tree is one of the most beautiful flowering small trees available to gardeners in the southeastern U.S. Fringe tree blooms roughly the same time as dogwoods and azaleas, yet the bloom period of fringe tree can be as long as six weeks, far outlasting dogwoods and most azaleas in the landscape.

At the end of bloom period, the emerging lime-green leaves accent the snowy blooms for an impressive finale. Fringe tree bark has been used as the source of a tonic said to be a diuretic and a fever reducer. Fringe tree is attractive to a variety of insects while in bloom, and to birds and small mammals when fruiting in late summer.

What is Georgia Gold Medal Plant Program (GGMP)?

The Georgia Gold Medal Plant Program promotes the use of superior ornamental plants in Georgia.

It represents the combined effort of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia; the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension; University faculty members; and nurserymen, flower growers, garden retailers and landscape professionals across the state.

Winners are chosen from five categories: Natives, Annuals, Perennials, Trees, Shrubs and Vines and Groundcovers.

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Tell us what plants you would like to nominate for the Georgia Gold Medal Plant Program.