By Kim Toscano

Close your eyes and picture a classic southern garden. A row of hydrangea lines the porch, their billowy blooms erupting against a backdrop of camellias. Stately crapemyrtles tower overhead, carpeted below by a bed of liriope. The walls are lush and living – hollies, loropetalum and nandinas. Can you smell the gardenias in bloom? 

These plants are synonymous with the grace and timeless beauty of a southern landscape. But there are other images that may be missed. The endless pruning and shaping of boxwood. The gangly legs of nandina and rhododendron. Taming loropetalum before they swallow the house. Those old-fashioned garden favorites had their shortcomings – until the Southern Living® Plant Collection gave them an update.

Taming the Unwieldly

Many varieties in the Southern Living® Plant Collection are simply manageable versions of old landscape favorites. Size in particular was a problem with many landscape shrubs. Given that most of us do not have full time garden staff or countless hours to dedicate toward pruning, we need tidier, more compact shrubs. Dwarf and mid-size varieties like Purple Daydream® Dwarf Loropetalum provide greater versatility and reduced maintenance.

Shrinking landscapes also call for smaller hedges and specimens such as Oakland™ Holly. Other improvements have been made along the way. Improved nandinas such as Obsession™ Nandina are not only dense and compact, eliminating legginess, but also have richer color than old-fashioned nandinas. 

Better Blooming

Gardeners are always looking for improved flowering – more flowers that are bigger and last longer. The Southern Living® Plant Collection offers a number of plants that bloom beyond the traditional flowering season. ScentAmazing™ Gardenia reblooms summer through fall, sharing their delightful perfume all season long. With bigger flower clusters and repeat blooming, ‘Big Daddy’ Hydrangea offers more of what we love in a hydrangea. From daylilies to salvia, the collection offers some of today’s best bloomers.

New Twists

Along with the classics, gardeners also desire new and unique plants, whether a new twist on an old favorite or something altogether different. The collection showcases the innovation of today’s plant breeders from the distinctive blooms of Illumination® ‘Flame’ Digiplexis® to the rich burgundy foliage of the Delta Series Crapemyrtles.

Many plants are selected to solve specific problems in the garden. For example, Southgate™ Rhododendrons were bred for heat tolerance and pest resistance. ‘Sunshine’ Ligustrum is a fine example that not only offers distinctive golden hues, but tackles a number of privet problems. Compact in size and flower-free, this pint-sized privet is non-invasive and won’t cause allergies. 

So what sets all of these plants apart? A passion for tradition and an eye on what matters to today’s gardeners – that is the Southern Living Plant Collection difference.

find your USDA zone
find a garden center
buy plants online
watch plant videos
plant finder
liner-plant