By Corrina Stellitano, Southern Living Plants
Photographs courtesy of Southern Living Plants
You’ve packed your bags, boarded your beloved dog, stowed your kids in the back seat with games galore, but one thing has you worried as you depart on vacation — will your landscape survive?
For those of us who get enjoyment or pride from our garden or landscape, summer vacations mean a break from the maintenance, but not the worry. For a worry-free vacation this summer, plant these tough plants. Waterwise and heat-tolerant, they still manage to be beautiful!
Partner these jewels with Southern Living salvias for a pollinators’ paradise. Saucy™ Red and Saucy™ Wine Salvia bloom in deep red or burgundy-purple and grow to 2-3 feet tall and wide. Be reassured: the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds will be watching the landscape while you are on vacation.
Perfect for our Southern climate, agapanthus (also called Lily of the Nile or African Lily) are tough, heat and drought-tolerant perennials. Our Southern Living Agapanthus are early blooming and rebloom spring through summer, and their green foliage is a lovely textural foundation element in your landscape beds when not in bloom. Find your favorite bloom color and plant them in mass plantings, in containers or in your garden borders. Then, when you return home, bring them in for cut flower bouquets.
‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia
Shrubs can be low-maintenance but they don’t have to be boring. ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia is a prime example. It has quickly become one of the most-loved plants in the landscape. Those unfamiliar first think ‘Soft Caress’ might be a palm, others think perhaps it’s a fern. When you clump three together, the look takes your breath away with its fine-textured foliage. Nothing in the landscape looks similar.
You instantly love it, and that is even before you realize that in the late fall, it offers up sprays of yellow blossoms that bring out the pollinators for a taste of spring. ‘Soft Caress’ excels in part shade to shade and will reach 3 feet tall and wide.
‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia partners exceedingly well with abelias, which rank among the best low-water plants. Varieties like ‘Kaleidoscope’ Abelia with gold, orange, and red ever-changing leaves, and the showy green and gold variegation of Miss Lemon™ would make a thrilling combination. They will reach 3 feet tall and up to 4 feet wide, with pendulous branches adorned with white flowers that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
What could possibly be more electrifying than to combine ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia and Kaleidoscope Abelia with ‘Lemon-Lime’ Nandina? It just seems all other plants and/or flowers look better when partnered with lime green or chartreuse. Many have never thought about the rugged perseverance of a nandina, but once established in your landscape, this is one plant you can count on to let that camping trip to the beach be just a little more relaxing.
‘Lemon-Lime’ is leading a nandina revival in the country, offering a compact habit that reaches 3 to 4 feet tall and never blooms. It is grown for the incredible foliage that offers deer resistance, disease and pest resistance, and an easy-care habit. Whether you partner it with shrubs or flowers, it will make a stunning companion.
Purple Daydream® and Red Diamond™ are two new loropetalum selections amazing in both foliage and flower, and when established, offer treasured drought resistance while you are away honing your golf skills or perfecting your tan at the beach.
Both would take the term complementary partnership to a new level when combined with ‘Lemon-Lime’ Nandina, ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia, or any of the abelias, simply by virtue of their deep maroon to burgundy leaves.
Purple Daydream® is considered dwarf, featuring deep-pink blossoms and a graceful habit reaching 3 feet tall with a spread of up to 4 feet. Red Diamond™ is larger – mid-sized – reaching 6 feet tall and wide, and offering vivid red flowers when in bloom. Both are easy care and deer resistant, and they require less pruning than traditional varieties.
With less maintenance and the ability to thrive with less water, at least for the length of your vacation, these plants will make for a relaxing retreat!
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