Which Plants Can I Grow in Atlanta?
A city with no shortage of historical importance, this welcoming metropolis is full of awe-inspiring, meaningful locations like the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site and the 1996 Olympic site of Centennial Olympic Park. What's more, Atlanta's annual climate is one of the most forgiving and approachable for any gardener. With reliable precipitation and consistent temperatures, Atlanta is a perfect place for your growing season! Ready to get started on your garden? Here are a few ideas to help you reach the best results:
Which Plants Grow Well in Atlanta?
Fruit trees do well in Atlanta, as you've probably seen given Georgia's abundance of peach trees. Bear in mind Atlanta has several other plants that will thrive just as well, including a number of beautiful flowering plants as well as warm and cold season vegetables, all of which love the more extended, sunny summers along with the milder frosts of winter. If you're ever in need of ideas on how or when to start, you can't go wrong by taking a look at your immediate surroundings. Take a visit to a local park to see what's working best, as you can learn a lot from the plants that only need a little help with the frosts or light and heat management. Nurseries are also great educational resources! Here are just a few that are proven to thrive in the Atlanta area:
Split Leaf Philodendron (Monstera deliciosa): Notched, vivid, green leaves lend this plant a popular nickname of The Swiss Cheese plant. With its unique presentation and coloring, it's quite the photogenic addition to your home or garden and spreads quickly over large areas. Able to lend a jungle vibe to any setting, it does best in temperatures that stay near 50°F, including shaded areas. It prefers bright to medium indirect light indoors for at least 6 hours a day, and the occasional spritz of water to keep things humid will yield the best results!
Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica): Capable of adding an ornamental touch to your home or garden with its hand-shaped leaves, this evergreen shrub can often lean to one side, but still render vivid beauty. With a preference for low light, if you're planting it outside, know that it can best grow in areas where winter temperatures stay above 5°F. And if you care for it properly, it will reward you with winter flowers!
As mentioned, Atlanta is an excellent spot for both warm and cold season vegetables. With a little guidance from your local Farmer's Almanac or similar resource, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest from any of these wonderful crops:
Cold Season Veggies:
- Swiss Chard
Warm Season Veggies:
Best Landscaping Plants in Atlanta
Any number of fruit trees do great in the Atlanta area, not only making beautiful additions to your home or garden but also benefiting the local wildlife. Pollinators like bees or hummingbirds love and depend on the food sources these plants provide, thereby benefiting the ecosystem around you. Be sure to check to see if the plants you're considering work well in your specific region and if you need something safe to get you started, try something native to the area. They've already proven they can thrive! Here are a few ideas to help you along the way:
- Cherry Trees
- Fig Trees
- Apricot Trees
- Citrus Trees
- Pear Trees
Are you hoping for shrubs or flowers for your home and garden? Atlanta is the perfect spot for either! Just remember that they need to be able to withstand hot, sunny summer conditions as well as the light frosts that can happen in the region. Here are a few that can do just that:
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Fragrant, great for use in cooking, and resilient, this lovely herb flourishes in places that stay about 10°F and get plenty of sun. Cut them back by one-third if you plan to bring them indoors for overwintering, and be sure to let the soil dry out completely before rewatering, as even though they like humidity, the drying soil is essential to optimal growth!
Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides): Named for its star-like flowers, which are white and exude a lovely aroma, this plant will show you its full luster when it blooms in late spring. With elegant, evergreen vines that can climb up to 6 feet in a season, it's perfect for trellises, railings, or lattices, adding some great dimension to any home or garden! Capable of efficiently handling winters in Atlanta, it's just as resilient in summer with its preference for bright, direct sunlight. Just make sure the heat doesn't get too intense!
Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida): This pink-purple flower can grow up to three feet tall, its pale petals drooping from where it blooms. The early summer flowers are great sources of food for local butterflies and hummingbirds. This Georgia native loves well-drained soil, and prefers full to partial sun. The plant is susceptible to root rot, so make sure it stays in a place where the soil can dry out between waterings.
Which Plants are Native to Atlanta?
A perfect way to make your gardening life easier while contributing to the local ecosystem is to go with local plants, especially if you can go with some endangered plants that need help in your area. Having already proven that they can survive in the region, you'll also be loved by the native birds, butterflies, and other pollinating insects, which rely on the food sources and habitat these plants provide. Always be sure to check your specific area to see what works best, but here are a few that might interest you:
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis): A native woodland perennial, this plant is a beautiful green ground cover that has a short spring bloom. As the plant prepares to flower, grayish-green leaves sprout to protect the flower before it blooms. The flowers are usually white or whitish-pink with a yellow center. Pollinators are attracted to these flowers. The name Bloodroot comes from the deep red sap the plant produces, which historically has been used as a dye.
Pink Cinderella Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata): Another local perennial, this Pink Milkweed flowers for weeks starting mid-summer. The clusters of small, pink flowers are a source of food for butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Milkweed is crucial for Monarch butterflies who have a suffering population. This type of butterfly only uses Milkweed as a food source for their larva, making this an eco-conscious pick along with a great flowering addition to your landscaping!!
Other Plants that Grow Best in Atlanta
Rosa's Blush Blueberry (Vaccinium darrowii): A bush that produces edible berries, the Rosa Blush Blueberry is also a beautiful addition to any space. With its clusters of bell-shaped pink flowers and variegated green-blue foliage, this is a great plant to bring many colors to your yard! The berries of this bush are edible, and often used to make jams and baked goods.
Gardenia Veitchii (Gardenia jasminoides 'Veitchii'): Sizeable, white, and fragrant mid-spring blooms are several endearing factors for this plant. Also known as Cape Jasmine, it thrives best in full sun to partial shade, growing up to heights of 4 feet. When indoors, indirect light is best, and while it can withstand a light freeze, keep it away from prolonged periods of cold, which can lead to damage.
Atlanta Gardening Tips
With its agreeable climate, gardening in Atlanta is fairly streamlined. Just be sure to consult your Farmer's Almanac or similar resource for any disparities in your growing season, as a severe frost or extended heatwave can cause issues for even the most seasoned gardener. But don't let that scare you! There are several ways to avoid damage to your plants and even enhance growth in the Atlanta region, such as mulch, raised beds, or cold frames to get the results you're hoping for!
When Should I Plant My Garden in Atlanta?
A good rule to keep in mind, even with the more agreeable climate Atlanta provides, is the region's first and last freeze dates. Typically, the first freeze falls somewhere around November 15th and the last around March 15th, which gives you a wide margin to plan your planting around. You should start vegetables indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Furthermore, take advantage of the opportunity Atlanta's climate affords you that other regions of the U.S don't benefit from by keeping in mind winter gardens are an option here! Plant cool-loving crops like spinach or broccoli in months where the soil is still warm, like October, and grow into the colder months!
Planting in USDA Zone 7b and 8a
Atlanta falls into Zones 7 and 8 of the USDA Hardiness Scale, which both have two subzones, Zone 8a and Zone 8b. Differentiated by their average winter temperatures, 8a has a range of 10°F to 15°F and 7b a range 5°F to 10°F. Fun fact: this is actually the most common warm Zone in the U.S, and using tricks like mulch can help you extend an already considerable growing season so long as you're cognizant of hot summers and mind your frosts!