Which plants can I grow in Memphis?
When you think of Memphis, how can you not think of the beautiful and influential music this city is famous for? Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash both famously recorded and performed here, making Memphis synonymous with some of the most iconic blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll that shaped music for decades. If you’re living in Memphis, maybe you’ll glean some musical inspiration to assist in your gardening efforts, too, because as welcoming as it is to those with a flair for musicality, it’s just as accommodating to the aspiring gardener! With some of the most forgiving climates in the U.S, let’s take a look at what plants will thrive in your Memphis garden and what makes Memphis so great for so many reasons.
Which Plants Grow Well in Memphis?
Given its warmer atmosphere, it’s no surprise that fruit trees do quite well in Memphis, but so too do several cold and warm season vegetables and a variety of beautiful flowers. These plants all love the longer, sunnier summers and milder frosts of the area, showcased by any number of native plants you can find at a local park or arboretum. Start with the native plant life for some inspiration and gardening insights when planning your growing season, and when you’re ready, here are a few to consider that are proven to thrive in the Memphis area:
Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica): With hand-shaped leaves, this evergreen shrub can add an ornamental touch to your home or garden with the right care. It prefers low light in general, and if you’re planting outside, be aware that it grows best where temperatures stay above 5°F, and when cared for properly, it will also reward you with flowers that bloom in winter! Just be aware that it tends to lean toward one side with its heavier leaves, so help it along and keep it upright with supports and pruning!
Split Leaf Philodendron (Monstera deliciosa): Also known as the Swiss Cheese plant because of its unique, notched, and vivid green leaves, this plant makes a welcome addition to any home or garden especially if you’re going for a jungle vibe of dense foliage. Photogenic and easy to maintain, whether it’s in shade or sunlight, keep temperatures around 50°F. When indoors, it prefers bright to medium indirect sunlight for at least six hours a day. Give it the occasional spritz of water to maintain a humid environment for best results!
Memphis is a perfect area for a multitude of plants like warm and cold season vegetables, especially with its forgiving climate and extended growing season. Consult your local Farmer’s Almanac or similar resource to do your due diligence and plan ahead, because with the right preparation there are so many crops you can enjoy such as:
Cold Season Veggies:
- Swiss Chard
Warm Season Veggies:
Best Landscaping Plants in Memphis
You can’t go wrong with a wide selection of fruit trees for your yard or garden plans in Memphis. Not only do these plants provide a nice selection of treats for you, but also for the local bees and birds that rely on them for reliable food sources, and all playing an essential part in the local ecosystem. Always be sure to check which plants work best for your specific region, and native plants are guaranteed to provide an easy solution if you’re having a hard time deciding on other plants. However, if you’re looking to branch out, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Fig Trees
- Apricot Trees
- Pear Trees
- Cherry Trees
- Citrus Trees
If shrubs or flowers are what you’re hoping for, you’re in the perfect spot if you’re in Memphis! Lovely blooms and growth are in your future so long as you keep in mind whatever plants you choose need to be able to withstand both the hot, sunny summer conditions along with the light frosts of winter. Here are a few that have proven capable:
Gardenia Veitchii (Gardenia Jasminoides ‘Veitchii’): Large, white, and fragrant blooms that arrive in mid-spring are just one of the endearing aspects of this plant, which you may have also heard called Cape Jasmine. It thrives best in full sun to partial shade and can even reach heights of up to 4 feet, so keep that in mind if you’re growing indoors! When inside, indirect light is preferred, and be aware that prolonged cold periods can lead to damage even though this plant can withstand a light freeze.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis): A staple in many savory dishes, this little plant makes a great addition to any garden. Fragrant, resilient, and easier to maintain than many other plants, it flourishes in places that stay above 10°F and get plenty of sun. Cut it back by one-third if you plan to bring it indoors, and be sure to let its soil dry out completely between consistent waterings to keep a maintained, humid environment for best growth.
Which Plants are Native to Memphis?
One of the best ways to give yourself some leeway in your growing season is by implementing plants that have already proven they can thrive in the local ecosystem. If there’s an opportunity to help out some of the endangered plants in your area, all the better! You’ll be playing a crucial part in maintaining the local ecosystem, preventing soil erosion, and helping the native birds and pollinating insects that need reliable food sources and consistent habitats. Always be sure to check your specific area first and consult a local nursery, but here are a few common native plants to the area:
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea): A member of the daisy family, this vibrant flower will proudly sport lovely shades of purple on its petals and gold from its center, bringing a beautiful bouquet to your garden. It thrives in the Memphis climate, requiring very little maintenance beyond awareness of extreme heat or cold, and blooms best from June through August. Echinacea also has great antioxidant qualities, and is a great addition to tea or for fighting off a cold!
Lance-leaved Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata): Recognizable for its bright yellow blooms, the Lance-leaved Coreopsis can grow up to two and a half feet tall. These delightful plants are often seen on roadsides, being extremely hardy and drought resistant. Maybe unsuprisingly, these flowers are in the sunflower family.
Other Plants that Grow Best in Memphis
Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis): On the taller side of flowering plants, this one can grow anywhere from 3 to 4 feet tall! Most of that height is also adorned with lovely, purple flowers complimented by blueish-green leaves and black seed pods, bringing wonderful variety to your garden or landscape. Hardy, resistant to droughts and poorer soil, it prefers full sun, making this a great, low-maintenance plant!
Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum Jasminoides): The star-like flowers of vivid white that exude a lovely aroma give this plant its name, and it’s a perfect addition to any garden looking to add a little dimension with its ability to climb and climb and climb! Put it near lattices, railings, or trellises and watch the vines grow upwards to heights of up to 6 feet. These evergreen vines and white blooms can easily handle winters in Memphis, and are just as resilient to summer with a preference for bright, direct sunlight. Make sure to give it some help if either the heat or cold get a bit too intense!
Memphis Gardening Tips
Gardening in Memphis is made far easier than other areas thanks to the milder climate of the region. As mentioned, plan ahead and consult your local Farmer’s Almanac or similar resource to avoid any extremes that can be detrimental to even the most seasoned gardeners. However, don’t let that intimidate you, as there are several solutions for any variables that might arise such as raised beds, cold frames, or mulching.
When Should I Plant My Garden in Memphis?
The best advice for growing in Memphis is to keep in mind the first and last frosts of the year. In this case, around November 15th for the first, March 15th for the last. Vegetables should be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost, and be sure to take advantage of the wonderful growing opportunity Memphis provides you can’t get in other regions! Winter gardens are possible here, and by planting in months where the soil is still warm such as October, cool loving crops like spinach or broccoli can grow into the colder months.
Planting in USDA Zone 7b and 8a
Situated nicely in Zones 7 and 8 of the USDA Hardiness Scale, Memphis falls mainly in subzone 8a. Like its counterpart, 8b, it’s distinguished by its average winter temperature range. 8a has a range of 10°F to 15°F and 8b a range 15°F to 20°F. Zone 7b, likewise, has a range of 5°F to 10°F. Zone 8 is actually the most common Zone across the U.S! Tricks such as mulch can extend your already considerable growing season in these Zones. Stay on top of any prolonged heat waves or severe frosts, and enjoy the benefits of this wonderful Zone!