This unique subtropical plant was used in the West Indies for building enclosures. It is a multi-trunked thorny tree with yellow flowers through the winter.
This unique subtropical plant was used in the West Indies for building enclosures. It is a multi-trunked thorny tree with yellow flowers through the winter.
This plant is used as a perennial fodder crop for livestock.
Apples are ideally planted in multiples of different varieties for optimal fruit production, and many also benefit from pollinators to increase the effectiveness of cross-pollination. Most apple trees are grown from scionwood grafted to rootstock, and the kind of rootstock will determine the ultimate…
This underappreciated stone fruit has lovely blossoms early in the spring. Because of their early bloom time, the flowers are susceptible to freezing.
Asparagus is an unusual plant that is primarily cultivated for its edible tender young shoots in the spring. When mature, it has large ferny foliage that is pale green.
Since bananas must reach a certain size to set fruit, today they are mostly used in the garden for their dramatic foliage.
Beets are a popular root crop used for pickling, roasting, and salads. They come in an array of colors, including red, yellow, and red and white striped.
These large spring blooming shrubs with edible berries do best in natural areas where they can achieve their full size.
Blue sky vine is a large, twining vine that boasts beautiful pale blue flowers. It is a rapid grower and becomes quite large over the course of a season.
Several varieties are grown in the Mount Vernon gardens including: Buxus sempervirens (American); Buxus microphylla var. japonica 'Green Beauty', 'Morris Dwarf'; and Buxus sinica var. insularis 'Justin Brouwers.' Boxwoods are the quintessential southern garden hedge plant. They are popular for use…
Broccoli is a cool season vegetable which has been cultivated since the Roman Empire. It is grown for its tender florets which can be eaten raw or cooked.
Butterfly peas are short lived tropical perennials with striking blue flowers. They have a twining habit and prefer rich, moist, well-drained soils. They make attractive container plants in Virginia.
Cabbage is a cool season annual that was a staple crop in the colonial period and continues to be so today.
The vibrant red blooms of the cardinal flower makes it an ideal plant for the shady summer garden. It reseeds readily and is ideal for naturalizing and sharing with friends.
Give this shrub ample room to sprawl, as it tends to sucker when it's happy. The unusual chocolatey maroon flowers give off a spicy sweet fragrance which is echoed in cut twigs and leaves.
This rambling evergreen vine sports masses of fragrant tubular yellow flowers in late winter and early spring. It is well-suited for use on arbors and fences.
Carrots are a root crop which comes in a wide variety of colors. They can be yellow, orange, or purple. While the purple colored varieties are some of the oldest types, orange varieties of carrots were popular by the mid-1700s. They can be served fresh in salads, or cooked.
Cauliflower is a cabbage relative with broad blue-green leaves and a large white head. It is slow to harvest and benefits from a long cool season.
Cayenne peppers are large prolific plants. They produce bountiful crops of slender, spicy red peppers that can be used fresh or dried.
Celery is a familiar component of Bloody Marys, salads, and soups. It is grown primarily for its crisp stalks which add a mild flavor to food. Celery is a cool season vegetable and does not like the hot summers of the southern part of the country.
This blue-flowered perennial is common as a roadside weed, but has a long history of being used as an edible or fodder.
Chinaberry is a fast-growing deciduous tree often made of several smaller trunks, as it is able to readily sprout from the roots. The widely spreading crown, pale purple tube-like fragrant blooms, and attractive yellow drupes that persist all winter made it a popular ornamental shade tree in southern…
A sturdy long-blooming annual, this impressive plant is ideal for the back of the border. Its bright flowers come in many colors, including hot pink, peach, deep rose, yellow, and red.
Coffee forms a large shrub with glossy green leaves. It has small white flowers. This plant produces the coffee beans so many of us rely on every day, but in this part of the world is primarily used as an ornamental.
The name "cowpea" was probably coined for their use as a fodder crop for cows, and while grown for their edible bean, the leaves and pods can also be consumed. Black-eyed peas can be harvested as a snap bean, or dried, and are the main ingredient in Hoppin' John, a traditional Southern dish ritually…
Cranberrybush has stunning white flowers reminiscent of a hydrangea, which makes up for its somewhat coarse texture and stiffly upright growth.
This clover is used primarily as a cover crop and fodder, but it is also a good nectar source for bees.
This large bulb has striking orange flowers borne on long lily-like flowers in spring. It is best placed on its side when planted to prevent rotting and then left undisturbed.
This small, spreading native tree offers a profusion of purplish-pink flowers lining the dark branches in April, followed by large heart-shaped leaves. The redbud evolved in the understory and wood edges of forests, where it is sheltered from intense sunlight, and is prettiest planted among dogwoods…
The fig tree dates back to ancient times and is an important source of food for many cultures. Flowers are borne inside the fig structure (syconium), and the fig is ripe and at its sweetest when it softens and turns dark late in the season. Coarse-textured leaves, which are large and deeply lobed, are…
Wands of bell-shaped flowers ascend from a broad, woolly basal rosette. This common cottage garden flower has an important role in the manufacture of heart medicine.
This magenta gem is well suited to the front of the border. Its lush blooms are attractive to butterflies, and they hold their color well when cut for use in dried arrangements.
Artichokes have large silvery green leaves that make them a striking addition to the garden. Their flower buds are traditionally used for culinary purposes, but if allowed to open offer large, brilliant purple flowers.
This uncommon shrub produces tart green fruits in summer that are suitable for jams and desserts. They have many sharp thorns and some care should be used when working around them.
A woody, twining vine, honeysuckle needs some structure to support itself. It blooms nearly all summer and is attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators. It is well-suited for arbors, pergolas, and fences.
Horseradish is a large spreading vegetable, used primarily for its pungent roots. It should be given a confined space, as it spreads rapidly if left unchecked.
This versatile hydrangea tolerates a wide variety of conditions and is ideal for borders or natural areas. It benefits from an annual pruning in late winter to prevent the heavy blooms from flopping.
This large tropical plant is used for various medicinal and economic purposes. The oil from the nuts is currently being studied as a potential source for biodiesel.
Jerusalem artichoke is a perennial sunflower relative that produces a profusion of bright yellow flowers atop ten foot stalks. It is valued for its edible tubers, which resemble the flavor of water chestnuts.
This voluptuous annual is grown for its showy multicolored foliage in shades of green, yellow, and red.
This large, suckering tree produces fragrant showy flowers, followed by a bean-like seedpod and was used in times of scarcity to make a coffee-like beverage. The seeds are very toxic before roasting and should never be eaten raw.
Key limes are small citrus trees with highly fragrant white blossoms. They produce many delightful fruits which are excellent for cooking. In this region, they are best grown in pots so that they can be moved in and out as the temperatures dictate.
A favorite in the Mount Vernon gardens, this annual reseeds readily. Its pink, blue, and white flowers add height to the spring border.
Leeks are an onion relative with strappy green leaves which an edible stalk which is usually blanched.
As with the other tropicals grown at Mount Vernon, the lemons are grown in pots so that they can be moved into a greenhouse for the winter.
Lettuce is a cool season leafy vegetable that is most frequently used in salads. Its leaves come in a variety of colors, from green to red to splotchy.
Large fragrant bouquets of purple flowers make this shrub the queen of spring in the northern garden.
This iconic evergreen tree of the south forms a wide spreading canopy and is often draped with Spanish moss. They are extremely resilient, which allows them to survive the severe weather patterns of the southern part of the country.
Lombardy poplar is best suited as a street tree or short-lived privacy screen. It is very fast-growing to approximately 40 feet.
Mock oranges are common in older gardens, although they are regaining popularity with the introduction of dwarf and double-flowering cultivars. Richly fragrant, they offer a profusion of star-shaped flowers with yellow centers.
Muskmelons are a trailing, vining plant with small yellow flowers which often performs better when grown on a trellis. They produce fruit in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Their fruits are frequently fragrant.
This large subtropical plant has brilliant pink flowers which bloom through summer in the Mount Vernon gardens.
Onions are commonly planted in the fall for a spring harvest. Red and yellow types are available to grow.
Seville oranges are a small to medium citrus tree which produce bitter, unpleasant tasting oranges.
Palmettos are the most northern palm to grow in the United States. They were a common food source for southern Native American tribes.
Parsnips are a large root vegetable which somewhat resemble white carrots. They can be used in similar ways. Handling the plants should be done with care, as they can cause severe skin irritation. Gloves and long sleeves are recommended while harvesting.
This small, colonizing tree produces the largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States. It has dark maroon flowers in the early spring which are pollinated by flies.
Peaches are wide fast growing trees that require careful pruning and maintenance in order to produce good quality fruit. Their vibrant pink flowers in spring are charming and attractive to pollinators.
Like other fruit trees, pears require a good deal of maintenance in order to perform well. Many require a chilling period to fully ripen and are good for use in baking and cidermaking.
Peas are tender spring vegetable on short vines. They often have large showy flowers in colors like pink and white. The pods can range in color from purple to green. Peas are best direct sown outdoors in the early months of spring, and if you have a long, cool fall, a second crop can be grown.
The Persian lilac is much more delicate and heat resistant than the common lilac, with a lighter fragrance and smaller flowers.
Plums have a sprawling, suckering growth habit and therefore require judicious pruning.
This large shrub boasts vibrant orange flowers in the summer which ripen into large orange-red fruits.
Potatoes are a tomato relative and are often mistaken for them, as their foliage is somewhat similar in appearance. They are an agricultural staple that ranks with wheat and rice as among the most important in the world. Their South American origin is often obscured by their fame as a mainstay crop…
This citrus tree produces fragrant flowers followed by large fruits which are larger and sweeter than a grapefruit.
Radishes are a root vegetable that add a pleasant bite (if you like that kind of thing) to salads. They come in a variety of colors including black, purple, red, and white. They are useful as a winter cover or forage crop. Radishes are incredibly easy to grow, with high germination rates and a fast…
Raspberries are a sprawling thorny plant which benefit from a large growing area and the removal of older canes. They produce their first crop of fruit in May and June, and a later crop in August.
Red currants are a small tart fruit best harvested in June. They prefer well-drained soils as well as cool summer climates.
Rhubarb is an old-fashioned vegetable, grown for its brilliant red stems which are often used in pies and desserts. While its stems are noted for their culinary qualities, its leaves are poisonous and must be removed before cooking.
Rutabagas are a cool season root vegetable which can also be used as a fall cover crop. The large root is purple and white and the leaves are usually bluish-green. It can be boiled, baked, roasted, or mashed, as well as eaten raw in salads.
This is one of the most ancient plants still alive today.
Sainfoin is a fodder crop that is highly nutritious for livestock and also provides nectar for bees.
Spinach is a low-growing leafy green which is ideal in salads, but can also be prepared in soups, stews, or as a cooked green. It is a cool season crop, prone to bolting when summer temperatures get too high.
These easy to grow and delicious fruits are hardy and vigorous producers.
This airy woodland shrub looks unassuming until it sets its brilliant red fruit in the fall, when it earns its many common names.
This stately tree is well-known for its fall color and production of maple syrup. It is a tree of northern forests and does not tolerate the heat or humidity of the south.
This dense suckering shrub tolerates wet soils and shade. In late summer it bursts into bloom, with long panicles of fragrant white flowers, followed by attractive yellow fall color.
Sweet potatoes are vigorous, running plants that will easily exceed their allotted space in the garden if not kept under control. They should be grown in mounds, much the way one would grow potatoes. They are extremely cold sensitive and should be planted after the soil has warmed in the spring and harvested…
Cherry tree species grown primarily for fruit production bloom later than the ornamental varieties. Tart cherries perform best in the humid climate of Virginia's coastal region.
Peanuts are small leguminous plants with many bright yellow flowers. They form their fruits underground and they should be harvested in the fall when the plant begins to yellow.
This plant is used for the production of its leaves, which provide the tobacco which goes into cigarettes, cigars and other forms. It can also be used as an ornamental, with its dramatic height and delicate pink flowers
Turnips are a cool season root vegetable. They produce a large purple and white bulbous taproot which have historically been a winter staple. They can be roasted, mashed, or eaten raw.
Virginia pines add a distinctive profile to the landscape, particularly in winter, when they are a bright spot among all the grays and browns. This medium sized pine tree provides habitat for birds, and were used for pine tar, as well as lumber.
Virginia White Gourdseed corn is an exceptionally tall variety that produces very firm kernels which are best suited to milling or use as a feed corn.
Watermelon plants are vigorous, vining plants which need to be given quite a bit of space to ramble in. They produce large melons of varying sizes and colors, depending on the variety.
Classically planted in moist areas such as lakes and ponds, this elegant tree should be given plenty of room and planted well away from structures.
Bird peppers are large plants, easily growing to 6 feet over the course of a season. They thrive in the heat of the year and produce masses of tiny red peppers with a lot of heat and excellent flavor.
This common cereal grain is used in distilling, as animal fodder, for cooking, and is also used as a cover crop.
Winterberry is a relatively insignificant woodland plant until its brilliant red berries light up the winter landscape. It is a native shrub of eastern wetlands and provides excellent habitat for songbirds.
The yellow buckeye is a large deciduous shade tree. Susceptible to leaf scorch in full sun, it is best planted in an area with afternoon shade. Despite their showy flowers produced in upright clusters measuring up to 6 inches tall, they are most commonly known for their large mahogany-colored nuts, which…
Yellow willows are often used as hedges and screens. They can be repeatedly cut down to encourage a bushy habit which shows off their flashy golden stems.