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GardenSMART :: Gardening Keys to Success

Gardening Keys to Success

By Stacey Hirvela, Spring Meadow Nursery
Photographs courtesy of Spring Meadow Nursery

Gardening isn’t rocket science – but it can be confusing. We’ve distilled caring for four popular landscape plants to just a few easy-to-learn pointers so you can care for your plants like a pro!

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  • Plant in full sun, at least 8 hours daily.
  • Plant in well drained soil – heavy clay soils can lead to root rot.
  • Prune only in spring, after new growth has appeared on the stems. Be patient – depending on the weather, butterfly bush can take several weeks to show signs of life.
  • In zones 5 & 6, plant butterfly bush only in spring.


  • “Feet in the shade, head in the sun,” that’s the old adage about growing clematis, and it is great advice. Keep roots cool with mulch and/or by planting a low-growing shrub or perennial nearby to shade the roots, but give the leafy parts plenty of sunshine.
  • For the healthiest and most beautiful plants, grow them on a support, like a fence, trellis, or pergola.
  • In spring, most clematis can be cut back to 2-3’ tall (some may be cut back more, however). At pruning time, pull all remaining stems off the support structure; otherwise, they will spoil the appearance of the fresh growth and flowers.

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Big-leaf Hydrangea

  • Because they have shallow roots, hydrangeas benefit from a 2-3” (5-7.6 cm) layer of shredded bark mulch.
  • Though most people think of hydrangeas as shade plants, at least half a day of sun encourages more flowers and stronger stems. Shade during the hottest part of the day is crucial in hot climates.
  • Avoid pruning these plants altogether – they cannot be pruned at any time of the year without impacting future floral display.

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  • Viburnums may be grown for fruit, flowers, foliage, or any combination of these three. Know which features your viburnums do best to determine when and how to prune.
  • Fruiting viburnums generally need a different variety nearby in order to get a good berry set. Both plants must bloom at the same time; check your plant tag for recommendations of compatible pollinators. Both plants will get fruit.
  • Most viburnums tolerate some shade, but flowering, fruiting, and fall color improve with a minimum of four hours of sun each day.



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