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Charleston During Different Seasons

Updated: October 12, 2021

Charleston is known for its beautiful gardens, and the city would probably only be half as charming if it wasn't for its plants, flowers and trees that enhance the beauty of every mansion.  Visitors are often enchanted by the plant life here, so check out our guide to the flora by season in town.

 Charleston in Fall:

Tea Olive Trees
October brings the sweetest scent to Charleston’s streets. We are often asked, “What is that smell?”The answer is that the buds to the Tea Olive trees are bursting open and releasing this fabulously pleasing scent. It is not overpowering and, in fact, is quite fleeting. It perfumes the air to perfection and is a great reason to visit in October. Don’t worry! The small white flowers (teeny tiny flowers) bloom for several months, so if you want to experience the scent you have until Spring.

Eke! Don’t accept a visit with someone offering you Oleander tea! Every single part of the oleander plant is highly toxic. The plant does not bloom in the fall and winter months, but its leaves stay green all year ‘round, so during this spooky time of year, a witch can still make you tea. Where will you find this poison plant? All along the battery wall, of course! That’s right, oleander lines the promenade of the battery; one of the most visited parts of the city. It is a tall plant with long, flowing stems and slender leaves and blooms in bright pink or white in the warmer months.

Lantana is a ground cover plant that blooms with little tiny multicolored pink and yellow flowers, or just solid yellow.  It blooms like crazy in the fall and butterflies love it! They do not have a noticeable scent, but the butterflies are reason enough to stop and enjoy them for a bit.


Charleston in Winter:

Holly and live oak trees
Charleston is filled with many evergreen plants like varieties of holly, cast iron plants in shaded areas, and live oak trees.  The trees are indeed oaks, but they have small leaves. They are not technically evergreens, they are deciduous but new growth pushes out old growth all year long. Charlestonians always have their rake and brooms at the ready to sweep away the live oak leaves! Winter is still a great time to visit, there is a lot of greenery to enjoy!

Join us on tour in mid-to-late February and you can enjoy the camellias. These evergreen plants burst into color in the late winter/early spring. Pink Perfections are all around, as well as a variety that blooms a deeper pink/red color, as well as shrubs with white flowers with yellow centers. A great place enjoy them is at Magnolia Plantation’s garden, but Charlestonians have them planted in their yards, too.


Charleston in Spring:

Yellow Jessamin
In early spring you will smell the sweetness of jasmine. Yellow Jessamin (yellow jasmine) is our state flower and it, along with confederate jasmine, can be found all around the city. Bursting with yellow or white flowers that exude a glorious scent, the two weeks or so that they are in bloom is a great time to come to Charleston.


Charleston in Summer:

Crepe Myrtle Trees
Summer brings out the flowers of the crepe myrtle trees that line the streets of Charleston. These smooth bark trees get filled with blooms in hot weather. The saying goes, “the hotter the day, the more blooms on a crepe myrtle.”The trees bloom from spring through summer and into early fall. The pale bark with have pink or purple flowers and the cinnamon colored bark trees have white flowers. Although they are not fragrant, they are beautiful.

+++Stop by and do a pay-what-you-like tour with us! The history is enhanced by the colors and scents of the gardens. See you soon!+++


Written by Diana Dupuis

About The Author

Scott Nelson

Scott has led over 2,000 tours of Charleston and has more than 1000 5 star reviews. He started working in museums at the age of 16 (Unsinkable Molly Brown House) and hasn't looked back. He was the Executive Director of Heurich House and on the historic interpretation/ education staff at Mount Vernon, both in Washington DC, for over 6 years. Scott moved to Charleston in 2012 for a job with the Historic Charleston Foundation and began leading tours for Free Tours by Foot.
Updated: October 12th, 2021
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