Hummingbird Festival 2017!

Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve, a Mecklenburg County park in north Charlotte hosts one of the best family friendly festivals in town each August. The main attraction is the banding of visiting hummingbirds  by local naturalists for study and tracking.  This year is the 10th anniversary of the festival, and over 2,100 people attended the festival and 17 hummingbirds were banded by Susan Campbell, local hummingbird expert. The family fun is extended with a variety of programs, presentations, interactive opportunities, booths offering environmentally friendly information to visitors…and of course FOOD!

The NC Native Plant Society booth staffed by Larry Mellichamp, Vicki Jo and Ronnie Franks, Allison Pittman, Tracey Grimm, and Beth Davis sold several hummingbird friendly plants including (click on the plant name to learn more in our Eco-Friendly Native Plant of the Month section):

Lonicera sempervirens  Coral Honeysuckle
Aquilegia canadensis Eastern Columbine








Salvia coccinea
Salvia coccinea Scarlet Sage
Lobelia cardinalis and ruby-throat from 204
Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Flower


If you missed the festival and would like to purchase hummingbird friendly plants for your garden for next year, be sure to put UNCC’s Fall Plant Sale on your calendar, October 13-14, 2017.

The NCNPS booth also entertained visitors with the fun and messy opportunity to make seed bombs to take home to start their own native plant garden. So easy to make with a little compost, clay, water and prairie seed mix and easy to take home in a hand decorated pot.image1

Thank you to Allison Pittman and Holy Angels in Belmont for donating Scarlet Sage plants and to Larry Mellichamp for donating Cardinal Flower plants for sale. Thank you to Carolina Heritage Nursery for supplying Coral Honeysuckle plants and donating a portion of the profit to NCNPS. Thank you to Will Stuart and Allison Pittman for sharing their photos.

Carnivorous Plants at August 13 NCNPS Meeting


From: Beth Davis

Subject: Carnivorous Plants at August 13 NCNPS Meeting

Date: August 5, 2017 10:16:41 AM EDT

​Dionaea muscipula Venus Fly Trap photo by Larry Mellichamp

Celebrate, learn, and buy carnivorous plants at the upcoming Sunday, August 13 Southern Piedmont Chapter of the NC Native Plant Society. We are screening the 50 minute movie, “Plants Behaving Badly…Murder and Mayhem” which focuses on carnivorous plants from around the world. After the movie Dr. Larry Mellichamp will answer questions and speak about NC carnivorous plants and UNCC Botanical Garden will have a small selection of carnivorous plants for sale. We will tour the UNCC Bog Garden for an upclose look at NC’s carnivorous plants. If you have a carnivorous plant at home that needs a “consult” feel free to bring it to Dr Mellichamp for diagnosis.

​​​Dionaea muscipula Venus Fly Trap photo by Larry Mellichamp

​Date/Time: Sunday, August 13, 2:00 – 4:00 PM

McMillan Greenhouse Classroom, UNCC
The GPS address of the Botanical Gardens is 9090 Michael Ray Craver Road, Charlotte​ ​

Lot 16A will be open on a first come basis. If this lot is full please park on the other side of the botanical garden in Lot 5. Please use this link of the campus map for parking information. ​
Don’t forget to plan time to visit the UNCC Botanical Garden’s VanLandingham Glen, Mellichamp Native Terrace and Susie Harwood Garden while you are here.
Meeting is free and open to public.

The Ivy Issue and Mosquitos

Sometimes it really does feel as if English Ivy is taking over the South. Yes it is more attractive and better behaved than Kudzu, but only marginally. At the recent Cullowhee Native Plant Conference,  Eli Dickerson, Ecologist at Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta talked about Fernbank’s efforts to tackle the years of English Ivy, in his presentation, “Saving an Old Growth Forest from the Vicious Grip of Invasive Plants.”

Fernbank owns a 67 acre urban old growth forest and Eli was hired to restore it to health. Fortunately for Fernbank, they were able to obtain grants to fund this expensive and labor intensive process. And a great deal of their efforts were spent tackling two common Piedmont invasive exotics–English Ivy (Hedera helix) and Monkey Grass (Liriope spicata).

IMG_5435With the help of a private contractor known as Machete Man, Trees Atlanta, and thousands of volunteer hours, they were able to begin to restore parts of the forest. Once the Ivy and Monkey Grass were cleared, Eli’s philosophy is to let nature take its course, and see what will emerge from the existing seed bank. You can see in the before and after photos below the results of all of this effort. If you are visiting Atlanta, I encourage you to visit Fernbank’s Nature Museum. 12c progress photos

Removing mosquito habitat

Controlling or replacing English Ivy and Monkey Grass can also help you with mosquito issues, because most pest control companies will target these areas in your yard with spray. Mosquitos love to live in the moist shady environment provided by this very thick ground cover. If you have felt that it is necessary to spray for mosquitos in your yard and have subsequently noticed fewer butterflies and other pollinators, removing this mosquito habitat might be an option to wide spread spraying, which harms all types of insects including the beneficial ones.

Native Alternatives to English Ivy

Eli Dickerson has graciously allowed us to share Fernbank’s list of native alternatives to English Ivy to help you with ideas for your own back yard.

Native groundcover alternatives to English Ivy:

Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia)
Carex species (C. plantaginea, C. flaccosperma)                                                     Green-and-Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)                                                        Mouse-Eared Coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata)
Galax (Galax urceolata)
Alum Root (Heuchera americana)
Wild Gingers (Hexastylis arifolia and Asarum canadense)                         Partridgeberry (Mitchella )
Moss Phlox or Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)                                               Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
Lyre-leaf Sage (Salvia lyrata)
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum)
Stokes’ Aster (Stokesia laevis)
Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Moss (many species)

Deciduous groundcover options: Allegheny Spurge (Pachysandra procumbens), Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris crestata), Deciduous Ginger (Asarum canadense), Broad Beech Fern (Thelypteris hexagonoptera), Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula).

Native vine groundcovers: Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), Wood Vamp or native Climbing Hydrangea (Decumaria barbara), and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).

Compiled by Fernbank Museum of Natural History with resources from Georgia Native Plant Society. November, 2015. For more information, contact Used with permission.


Often we get questions from NCNPS members and friends. We thought it would be a good idea to keep a running list of these frequently asked questions, so we can all learn something new.

Q July 1, 2017:What kind of bushes would be a good choice for a hedge? It’s a small area and I’d prefer something that doesn’t get higher than 5′ and that stays green year round that doesn’t need a ton of trimming and that grows quickly. Not asking much 😬

A: Lisa suggests…Dwarf Yaupon Holly but they get pretty wide. Inkberry Holly but they’re pretty slow. She doesn’t say whether it’s sun or shade. Leucothoe, if shade. Viburnum obovatum is a possibility but a bit hard to find. That”s a tricky one.

Beth would add….perhaps Illicium parviflorum or I. floridanum…I use both of these in shade border situations where I need an evergreen privacy screen. They may not qualify as a “hedge” but they certainly provide 12 month screening and interesting flowers.

Or you could consider a vertical screen with support of some type and use Coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens.

Q: I am a stormwater engineer working on erosion and soil stabilization issues.  Could you please recommend a few types of grasses or shrubs that could thrive in the Charlotte area.  The soils on the site include Cecil sandy clay loam and Bethlehem gravelly sandy clay loam.  I believe the soils are pretty well drained on most of the site. We would like to have hearty plants with significant root structures that like to be mowed hard every 6 months or annually.    Does anything come to mind?

A: Larry suggests…Andropogon virginicus or Andropogon glomeratus can take wet or dry. These are clump-forming. Also try this link for HARP–Habitat Assessment and Restoration Professionals.

A: Lisa suggests…I was going to recommend contacting Hoffman Nursery, an NC grower that’s been at it for a long time, or using some of their excellent resources. Particularly ‘green infrastructure’. If you want only native grasses and the like, you’ll need to select for that. They also have an excellent newsletter.

Also, Mecklenburg County will provide information and review. I had to fish around a bit but located plant lists here. Charlotte is in zone 7B-8.

Do you have questions about native plants….leave a note in the comment section or visit our Facebook page. There is an active an ongoing plant question discussion on the Southern Piedmont Chapter page or the NC Native Plant Society state page too.