are several reasons to use shrubs, which typically grow
no longer than 4 feet high, in a typical landscaping setting.
They can be used to define circulation, keeping people on
a path. They can be used to define space. By placing small
shrubs together so that the leaves touch, we create a mass
and this is pleasing to the eye. It also reduces the number
of weeds in the area. Shrubs can be used as sequencers,
as a transition between low ground cover and tall trees
for example. People feel comfortable and able to talk around
small shrubs. They work well as subordinate members in the
composition of our landscape, they're not the main focal
point but allow us to rest our eyes as opposed to being
the main star of the show. Hollies are shrubs and tolerate
sun or shade. Ilex Vomitoria Nana or Dwarf Yaupon Holly
works well if your house has gray features. It thrives in
full sun or shade and has few insect problems. Vibernum
Davidii or David Viberunum, another Holly, reaches 2 to
3 feet height but about 4 feet in width. It has glossy green
leaves with white flower clusters in the spring. It has
a turquoise metallic berry in the summer, a coarse texture
and goes great with ferns and azaleas.
Bulbs are a great way to add color to your landscape. Bulbs
are Ephemeral, which means they are short lived but they
create bold colors. Narcissus Genus or Daffodil or Jonquil
are great in areas where you have mature Deciduous trees.
When the leaves are off the trees in the spring, the leaves
will come up, they will get light and the flower blooms
will follow. In the summertime they'll be in the shade and
the leaves will have dropped by then. Rodents and Deer don't
bother them. Plant them about 8 inches apart, this will
allow them to divide and multiply. They are not heavy feeders,
they like a little bone meal once a year. Once the flower
blooms allow the foliage to die down. They come in yellow,
white, bicolored and Apricot.
Florida or Dogwood is a beautiful tree associated with the
south. It has been called the most beautiful tree in North
America. It produces 3 pedal, very white, very attractive
flowers. It is a a coarse textured tree with a horizontal
habit. It is a small specimen tree that works well in most
residential situations. It gives 4 seasons of interest.
In the spring, creamy white flowers, in the summer, a good
looking roundish or oval coarse texture tree, in the fall
the leaves turn orangish-red, in the winter the horizontal
branching looks good. They need some shade in the afternoon
and like moist, fertile soil. White dogwoods do well in
just about every area of the south, the pink ones don't
seem to do well in Florida or in places that get very hot.
Don't plant them next to concrete where the heat builds
up. They can suffer from Dogwood Anthranose, which causes
the leaves to die back or drop. Fungicides may work but
you may want to consider another Dogwood called Coosa Dogwood,
it's a little more resistant to this disease.
small shrub that tolerates neglect is Nandina. Nandina Domestica
Moonbay is a dwarf variety of Heavenly Bamboo. It is a tough
plant that tolerates a very intolerable condition in the
south, dry shade. It also does well in full sun, there are
no berries, it's fine textured, looks good in groupings.
It has virtually no insect or disease problems.
Hydrangeas have large leaves and bold conspicuous flowers.
The Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea Quercifolia, is Deciduous
and native to Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.
it does well in the south without a lot of care. It is coarse
textured, reaches 5 to 6 feet tall. It has large white clusters
of flowers that are long lasting and it seems to tolerate
a variety of conditions. It will take full sun, although
it likes a rest from the afternoon sun. It likes its root
system to be cool, so mulch around the base of the plant.
Lime Mound Spirea is a Deciduous shrub with interesting
chartreuse foliage and fascinating pink flowers. It reaches
1 to 3 feet tall, has a compact, airy look, yet adds a lot
of zip to low areas of your landscape. It will draw a lot
of attention so put it somewhere like your front door. It
likes full sun, use it with a mass of plants. It is coarse
textured and works well with finer textured plants.
Rainbow Leucothoe is a native, durable shrub. It has cream
and green and yellow, even pink variegation on the leaves.
It's fascinating to view and has urn shaped, very drooping
flowers, in the spring. It has an arching habit which is
attractive and restful to the eye, it works well in masses.
It likes organic matter in acidic soils and it does well
in deep shade.
Azaleas and Rhododendrons are members of the same genus
Rhododendron. There are about 800 species and 2000 different
plant selections. They rank among the south's favorite plants.
They both like acid soil, need more air in the root zone
than other garden plants but need constant moisture. They
need soil that is fast draining and moisture retentive.
Adding organic matter often creates a perfect environment.
Plant both with the top of the root ball slightly above
the soil level. Never allow soil to bury the stems. Sun
tolerance varies by species. Too much sun causes burning
or bleaching of the leaves, though most can take full sun
in the cooler parts of the south. An ideal location is filtered
sun beneath tall trees. Prune right after they bloom but
make sure you prune before the first week in July because
buds are forming for the following spring.
Pieris Japonica or Japanese Andromeda is a perfect companion
plant for the Azalea. It is a small shrub with drooping
white flowers, it is relatively dense and evergreen. It
loves an organic situation with shade, especially in the
afternoon. It is not a good choice if you have hot, full
sun all day long, especially if the roots get warm.
Kavatine is compact but has beautiful white flowers in the
spring. It likes full sun and well drained soil.
Juniperus Squamata Bluestar, Bluestar Juniper, is a good
choice if you have full sun and well drained soil. It has
a blue metallic look that creates a cool restive feeling
in the landscape.
Maples come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they range
from very tall to medium sized and grow in just about every
part of the south. We look at a Japanese Maple, Acer Palmatum,
it is a very slow growing plant often only reaching 20 feet
tall. It's native to Korea and Japan. It has elegant, finely
textured leaves. There are 2 basic types, grafted or old
time seeded variety. Grafted are smaller with a more sweeping
habit and are a little more rugged. In the south Richard
recommends the seedling type, they seem to do better in
full sun and the heat. They like some shade and dry soil.
It has a maroon colored leaf, it turns greenish in the middle
of summer and is often very colorful in the fall.
Lonicera Fragrantisima or Wintersweet will add fragrance
to your landscape in the spring or winter. It has oval leaves
with creamish flowers that aren't showy. It doesn't look
good if shaped so put it in a place where it can grow.
Muco Pine likes full sun and well drained soil. It is not
a heavy feeder and retains its dwarf, compact look. It is
fine textured and has little upright candles.
Hedera Helix or Ground Ivy is an evergreen, very coarse
textured, ground cover. It has large shiny leaves. It can
be invasive, some say the first year it sleeps, the second
year it creeps and the third year it leaps and will leap
over any horizontal or vertical surface. It has deep roots
and holds soil well so it's great for stopping erosion.
It can spread and get out of control, if it goes up a tree,
remove it ASAP. It is not good on wood surfaces because
it holds water and rots the wood and allows termites to
become interested. There are different types of Ivy, some
have smaller leaves and are less aggressive. If Ivy is growing
on a sidewalk, just control it with your lawnmower.
Iris is a very interesting, visual element in your garden.
It has an upright form, sword like leaves and reasonably
coarse texture. There are an enormous number of varieties
and colors so you can extend the bloom period for several
months. It tolerates heavy clay soil. They are easy to transplant,
dig a larger clump, lift it, then place it an inch below
the surface with part of the rhizome showing. Cover it with
mulch and it should be trouble free. Alfie has used a 5%
bleach solution, doused the rhizomes and it tends to cure
any disease. Occasionally Aphids are a problem but wash
them off with a hose.
By Justin Hancock, Costa Farms Horticulturist,
Photographs courtesy of Costa Farms
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