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Save Yourself Labor By Planting Shrubs

Save Yourself Labor By Planting Shrubs

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Reducing garden maintenance is a worthwhile and much-sought-for goal. The time and expense of replanting annual flowers year after year or of digging and dividing perennials is laborious. Help accomplish this goal by including shrubs in the landscape.

Most gardeners have their fill of plain green shrubs that are often overplanted and overgrown and do little to accent and invigorate the garden. Adding flowers to the shrubs helps relieve some of the boredom. Unfortunately, most gardeners are only familiar with the showy spring-flowering varieties. Summer-flowering shrubs add a great deal to the landscape in terms of flowers, textures and shapes. Although the list is not long, there are many underutilized shrubs that produce beautiful flowers during the summer.

- Buddleias come in many different colors, including pink, white, violet and blue. There are numerous species, but the most common in this area is the Buddleia davidai. They do best in full sun and need to be pruned hard in the spring to promote flowering on strong, new shoots. Because the showy, fragrant flowers attract butterflies, they are referred to as "butterfly bushes." Varieties have exotic names such as "Nanho Blue," "Nanho Purple," "Black Knight," "Royal Red," "White Cloud" and "Ile de France."

- Caryopteris species bloom from July to frost. "Blue Mist" is a low-growing 2-by-2-foot plant with 3-inch-long leaves. Small clusters of blue flowers are borne on the tops of the stems. "Azure" and "Heavenly Blue" have deep blue flowers, while "Dark Night" and "Longwood Blue" have deep blue flowers and silvery foliage. "Bluebeard" grows slightly taller and has lavender blue flowers.

- Numerous hibiscus also flower in mid-summer. The Hibiscus mosheutos is a semiwoody perennial with flowers that grow to 12 inches across. While it is not truly a shrub, it grows up to 6 feet high and 6 feet wide, which gives it a shrublike appearance. The Hibiscus syriacus is more commonly known as "Rose of Sharon" or "Shrub Althea." It grows to 15 feet in height and can be trained as a small tree. The blooms resemble hollyhocks and cover the plants in midsummer until fall.

- Several hydrangeas can be grown in our area. Garden hydrangea produces a symmetrical, round form. Flowers are white, pink or red but rarely turn blue because of our alkaline soils. The plant lives from year to year, although stems freeze to the ground; they produce few, if any flowers. Protect them by mounding leaves over the tops of the plants.

Oak leaf hydrangeas are slightly more hardy with deeply lobed oaklike leaves turning bronze or crimson in the fall. They generally flower in June and are best trimmed to the ground in late winter.

Smooth hydrangeas are the hardiest and produce rounded clusters of greenish white flowers up to 6 inches in diameter. They grow well in our area in rich loam soils.

- Tree mallow, or lavatera, produces white, pink, rose or lavender blossoms on stalks that grow up to 6 feet tall. In our area, this annual grows to a shrublike form and can be useful as a tall background plant.

- Potentillas are some of the easiest-to-grow summer-flowering shrubs. They bloom in the spring, but when sheared they continue to bloom during much of the summer. The plants are very hardy and do well in the garden.

- Roses are the most common and the showiest summer-flowering shrubs. They come in dozens of species and hundreds of varieties. For the showiest summer blossoms, look for the landscape or shrub-type roses that tolerate dry, hot summers and still keep blooming.

- Japanese spirea blooms after the other spireas and produces white or pink blossoms. These small shrubs are excellent accents or border plants.

- Wild mock orange is covered with a satiny yellow flower in June and July. This native plant is the state flower of Idaho. It is drought-tolerant and performs well in most situations.

Since most shrubs are long-lived, select colors that blend with the overall color scheme of both the garden and the home. Unlike annuals, these plants cannot be changed on a whim and a fancy each and every year. As you select summer-flowering shrubs, note the growing conditions they desire and their size. Carefully chosen shrubs in the right locations will add beauty and color to the garden and reduce maintenance and the need for replanting every year.


Name/Scientific name: Butterfly Bush, Buddleia davidii Flower color: Pink, white, violet, blue Sun or shade: Full Hardiness: 5 Size: Height 5-10 ft., Width 6-10 ft. Comments: Prune to ground each year to improve appearance. Tolerates poor soil

Name/Scientific name: Bluebeard, Caryopteris Flower color: Blue, violet, white Sun or shade: Full Hardiness: 5 Size: Height to 3 ft., Width to 3 ft. Comments: Shear to ground each spring

Name/Scientific name: Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus Flower color: White, pink, red, lavender Sun or shade: Full Hardiness: 5 Size: Height to 15 ft., Width 5 ft. or more Comments: Blooms midsummer to fall

Name/Scientific name: Hydrangea, macrophylla Flower color: Pink, blue Sun or shade: Part sun Hardiness: 6 Size: Height 3-5 ft., Width 3-5 ft. Comments: pH sensitive. Needs winter protection

Name/Scientific name: Hydrandea, aboresens Flower color: White Sun or shade: Part sun Hardiness: 5 Size: Height 4-6 ft., Width 4-6 ft. Comments: Hardiest hydrangea

Name/Scientific name: Hydrangea, quercifolia Flower color: White Sun or shade: Part sun Hardiness: 5 Size: Height 4-6 ft., Width 4-6 ft. Comments: Needs deep rich soil, winter protection

Name/Scientific name: Tree Mallow, Lavatera Flower color: White, pink, rose Sun or shade: Full Hardiness: N/A Size: Height 2-4 ft., Width 2 ft. Comments: An annual with a shrub form. Produces abundant hollyhock-like flowers.

Name/Scientific name: Cinquefoil, Potentilla Flower color: White, red, orange, yellow Sun or shade: Full Hardiness: 2 Size: Height 2-3 ft., Width 3-4 ft. Comments: Excellent plant for many locations.

Name/Scientific name: Rose, Rosa (some) Flower color: All Sun or shade: Full Hardiness: Varies Size: Varies Comments: Dozens of species and hundreds of varieties.

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Larry A. Sagers


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