Which Plants Can I Grow in Louisville?
Kentucky's largest city and home of the famous Louisville Slugger, you'll find no shortage of trendy scenes and traditions here! A city that has just as much warmth as it does depth of character, one of its most famous traditions is the annual Kentucky Derby held at the beautiful Churchill Downs. What else pairs beautifully with horse racing? The many flowers and blooming plants one can see are implemented with stunning care at the pristine race track. Aspiring gardeners should take note, as this is a perfect example of the kind of growth one can nurture in Louisville's accommodating climate! Here's a closer look at what makes this city a perfect place for fruits, veggies, and of course, flowers for your growing season:
Which Plants Grow Well in Louisville?
Louisville comes with a wide variety of plants to grow for anyone with a green thumb, and all it takes is a little due diligence when it comes to weather awareness. Things can get on the colder side during winter months in this region, but several methods easily overcome such challenges. First off, take a look around at the aforementioned Churchill Downs for insight and inspiration for how to best care for your plants, but don't hesitate to look at other parks or gardens where native plants are utilized. Local nurseries are great resources as well! With a little help, you'll have the garden of your dreams, and here are a few plants that can help you make it happen:
Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens): An excellent addition for trellises, patios, ladders, or anywhere this vine can climb, it also does well as ground cover and is a great way to add character to your home or garden! With tube-like, orangish-red flowers with yellow stamens, these blooms grow in clusters and are a favorite of pollinators. Lush, green leaves retain their hue year round, and this plant does best in full sun.
English Ivy Gold Child (Hedera helix 'Variegata'): This one is quite the climber, sometimes able to reach heights of up to 10 feet! This trait makes it perfect for trellises, lattices, and more where the full extent of its character can truly shine. Beautiful, star-shaped leaves of lush green and ringed in white will make your garden pop, whether on ladders or in hanging baskets. Give it morning sunlight followed by dappled shade for the rest of the day, and be sure to bring it indoors when things get below 35°F. English Ivy Glacier and English Ivy Green Ideal are cousins of English Ivy, and like their relatives, share their love of climbing just as much. Perfect for patios and railings, each will bring unique vibes and patterns of their own wherever you plant them!
Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica): A unique flower due to its ability to bloom well into the fall months, this plant is sure to add vibrance to your garden, especially at a time when spring perennials have gone dormant. Coloring ranges from blue to lavender in upright clusters from July to October. Give it moist soil conditions in a shadier area for best results!
If you're aiming to grow veggies in Louisville, you'll have no shortage of options! Several cold season vegetables do great in this area when you start them indoors by April! Move them outside in the warmer months, and get ready to enjoy a bountiful harvest at the end of the growing year. Here are a few you can try:
- Brussel Sprouts
Vegetables and fruits that thrive in warmer temperatures also come in a wide variety in the Louisville climate, and with the right timing, will yield an equally abundant harvest! Try a few of these to start:
- Butter Lettuce
- Sweet Potatoes
- Bush Beans
Best Landscaping Plants in Louisville
Don't let the challenge of finding the right plants make you uneasy if you're growing in the Louisville area. What might seem daunting at first is quickly remedied with a little research on what plants are already suited to the varying temperatures of your area. Having an awareness of your soil composition can also make a huge difference. Consider native species for a quick solution, and if you're looking for more variety, give some of these plants a look as well:
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis): with vivid, pink flowers that are sure to add amazing vibrance to your garden, this tree is quite the marvel in spring! Just be aware that it can look rather bare in fall and winter when it loses all of its leaves, but it makes up for that with an abundance of horizontal and uniquely shaped branches. It does best in well-draining soils with full to partial sun. Also, its flowers are edible and a great source of Vitamin C! Just be sure you choose the Eastern variant of the redbud plant, as the Western variant is native to Arizona and unfit for the local climate.
Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis): an ornamental bunchgrass with a unique shape and composition, it also has a pleasant, coriander fragrance exuded from its blooms. It also turns a beautiful gold in fall! This plant prefers lots of sun and is an amazing choice for any bordering you may wish to implement in your lawn or garden.
Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aethiopicum): Beautiful and delicate fronds all take on a vivid green year round with this plant, lending your garden a lush, spring vibe you can enjoy in all seasons. Despite its fragile appearance, this plant is also quite the trooper, capable of withstanding cold down to -10°F!
Fruit is never in short supply in Louisville, and there are many fruit trees all eager to impress you with their sweet sustenance and who also handle the colder months with ease. Give a few of these a look:
- Honeycrisp and Gala Apple Trees
- Sweetheart and Stella Cherry Trees
- Bosc Pear Trees
- Asian Pear Trees (Shinseiki, Seuri)
- Nectar and Candor Peach Trees
Which Plants Are Native to Louisville?
Using native plants in your lawn or garden is a great way to ensure success for your growing season. Not only are these plants uniquely suited to prevent local soil erosion with their adapted root systems, but they're also a crucial part of the local ecosystem. Birds, bees, and other pollinators all depend on these plants for reliable food and habitat. And if you can incorporate any endangered plant species in your area that might need some of their number planted, you'll be surrounded by abundant growth that will sustain itself for years. Consider a few of these for your Louisville garden:
Sweet Cone Flower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa): Similar to Orange Coneflower in appearance, you can find this variant growing in moist areas like wet prairies, woodland edges, or roadsides. Resilient and preferring full to partial sun, look for its beautiful yellow flowers from July to September.
Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurea): A favorite of the Monarch Butterfly with deep magenta blooms, this plant is endangered in many states and thus a perfect and beautiful addition to your garden if you're considering native plants. Preferring wetter soils and lots of sun, it blooms in June and July and can grow as tall as 3 feet!
Blazing Stars (Liatris): Highly unique in shape and size, which can reach heights of up to 6 feet, this plant is a great way to add colorful, vertical appeal and comes in a wide variety of colors! This perennial prefers full sun and blooms in June to September.
Other Plants That Grow Well in Louisville
Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis): Unique, ridged leaves like pea pods line both sides of this plant's stem and have a more ornamental and feathery look than other ferns. Lush, green fronds are a great addition to add vibrance to your garden and be sure to plant in shaded areas with lots of water. Also, be aware it doesn't handle freezing temperatures well and can turn black after the first frost.
Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata): Low-maintenance and beautiful to boot, this plant can grow up to 18 inches high and is sure to add welcome color to your garden with minimal hassle! Also known as sweet William, consider this one if you're looking for a mat appearance of ground cover. Be sure to plant in areas of partial sun to full shade.
Louisville Gardening Tips
Staying on top of your weather conditions, especially temperatures, will be critical to the success of your growing season in Louisville. However, by staying cognizant of temperatures and timing, you'll find you have an abundant and prolonged growing season in Spring and Summer alone! Furthermore, mulching, cold frames, raised beds, and overwintering techniques can help you through the colder times. Consult your local Farmer's Almanac or similar resource to make sure you're ready for anything the weather throws your way!
When Should I Plant My Garden in Louisville?
Being in Zones 6 and 7 of USDA Hardiness scale, it's crucial you mind your first and last frosts of the Louisville climate. Typically, the first occurs sometime in November, and the last falls closer to the end of April or beginning of May. However, be warned there are no guarantees with seasonal variances, so it's always a good idea to check and recheck the conditions in your area specifically to form a concrete growing plan.
Planting in Zone 6b & 7a
Zones are split into two subzones, such as 6a and 6b. Both are categorized by their average winter temperature range, which is 0 to 5°F in 7a, and -5 to 0°F in 6b. This range makes annuals a common choice, and practices such as overwintering will help more delicate plants survive the harshest cold. Cold boxing, mulching, and raised beds will also keep plants happy and healthy through colder months, and take note that by implementing these techniques, a wider variety of plants is also made available to you in this region!