Native Flowering ShrubsMaster Gardener ScoopMarch 18, 2015

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Native Flowering Shrubs

By Debbie Czarnopys-White, Master Gardener

Spring is finally on the way and thoughts are turning once again to flowering plants. My recommendations again include native flowering shrubs instead of the cultivars or hybridized plants. Both are good in a natural setting but native plants will just better attract our wildlife – birds, butterflies and little critters.

As far as effectiveness, starting with native shrubs is best but also having multiple plants would better attract wildlife. Native shrubs also attract lots of delicious insects that, in turn, attract what we like to observe and enjoy. Apparently, the cultivars don’t do such a good job of this.

Please observe the height and growing conditions of the shrubs listed below. We can try to plants something in less than an ideal location but it may be a short-lived experience. To get your money’s worth, plant it where it is recommended. Also, going native means we don’t work at pruning all the time. The joy of these is watching the natural and wild shapes just go wherever they want to. Pruning can be done if something gets damaged but do so as minimally as possible.

I actually have three of the below type plants and have three more types in the planning stage in the near future. I anticipate little work other than watering when needed and occasional weeding after careful mulching.

* witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis), 6-10’ height, full sun to partial shade, grows in average to dry soil conditions, yellow-orange-red fragrant flowers in winter to spring

* viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), 2-6’ height, prefers shade and dry growing conditions, flowers are flat umbels of creamy white in late May, followed by almost black fruits, turning an unusual pink in the fall

* common serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), grows in excess of 12-15’ in height, prefers moist, well-drained, acid soils, flowers in several in drooping clusters, sometimes blooming before the leaves appear

* hazelnut, (Corylus Americana), 12-15’ height, grows in full sun to shade, flowers are produced very early in spring before the leaves – pale yellow/red, edible nuts

* ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), 5-10’ height, grows in part to full sun in wet to dry soil conditions, white flowers May-Jun; berries for birds; yellow fall color

* spicebush (Lindera benzoin), 6-12’ height, grows in part sun to shade, average soil moisture, tiny fragrant yellow flowers; berries for birds

* buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), 6-12’ height, grows well in wet soils, long-lasting, unusual blossoms are white or pale-pink, one-inch globes

If you’re interested in going native, look for these above and other natives in your local area. If they are not easily found, as your location or source to try to get them for you.

On another note, we’re planning to stock up seeds for our heirloom seed bank at the Nashville Public Library. We’ll keep you informed on what seeds arrive and when they’re available for taking, growing, and returning some to the seed bank. Happy gardening.

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