Friday, September 7, 2012

Plant a Native Shrub

This SATURDAY, Sept 8, 2012, is National Planting Day


Get Growing: National Planting Day! - Get Growing: A Keep America Beautiful Initiative

September, the days are shorter, the temperatures are lower, and the rains are (suppose to be) resuming. So now is a great time for planting something new in the landscape. Native shrubs seem to be a good choice.

Ninebark – Physocarpus opulifolius

Native shrubs offer many advantages in the landscape.  They have lovely leaves, blooms, are insect resistant, disease resistant, and, once established, they need little  supplemental water, or fertilizer.

This Ninebark, called Diablo, in indigenous to the eastern parts of North America. There are other varieties that are found in the western states. This red/burgundy leafed shrub has nice white blossoms in spring, and the seed heads are deep red.


The name ninebark supposedly comes from the lovely exfoliating bark in the winter - Year round beauty.
 exfoliating ninebark Ninebarks reach to 10’ tall, and as wide.  They can be used as a specimen or as a hedge.  With the dark leaves, ninebark makes a great backdrop for yellow or chartreuse plant. They are hardy in Zone 3-7.

Another native shrub that has multi-season interest is the Red Chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia.  Hardy in Zones 4-9, the red chokeberry gets about 10’ tall, and 3’ – 5’ wide.
red chokeberryred chokeberry 2

Small white blossoms in spring develop this small red fruit. As pretty as the red berries are, birds do not like the very astringent taste, so the berries last well into winter. Red Chokeberries like soil that is more acid, and take well in either wet or dry locations.

The native black chokeberry shrub differs from its red cousin.  The black chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpe, is hardy in Zone 3-8, and only reaches a height of 3’- 6’.

flowers of black chokeberry Fall foliage is a pretty red, and the black berries, too, are not tasty for birds.

Ilex glabra, Inkberry, is in the holly family.  The ‘ink’ comes from black fruit. ilex glabra - inkberries

This evergreen native shrub prefers moist, acidic locations, in part sun to part shade.  To insure pollination and formation of flowers, a male and female holly need to be in close proximity to each other,  Hardy to Zone 4 – 9, the Inkberry is native to Eastern United States.

snowberries bush  This native shrub is the common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus. Soil neutrality, shade, and moist or dry locations are favored by this plant.  It can grow to 3’ – 6’.  The Snowberry is the host plant for the Vashti sphinx moth. 
Vashti sphinx moth Vashti sphinx moth 
Birds and small mammals use this plant as cover, nesting and food. The berries are, however, poisonous for human consumption.

The American Highbush Viburnum is also called the American Cranberrybush Viburnum.  This native is a favorite in the landscape for multi-seasonal interest.  highbush cranberry viburnum  Hardy in Zones 2-7, this viburnum prefers moist, rich soil, and partial shade.
highbush viburnum

Urban pollution and wet conditions are tolerated by this native shrub.  Birds will eat these berries and jams can be made from these tart fruits for human foods as well.

Finally, there is an evergreen native shrub that can add to the landscape.  It is the Eastern Red cedar  Juniperus cedar
As a member of the juniper family, not a true cedar, the red cedar is a native conifer found in most of eastern  US.  Birds help distribute these trees by eating the bluish cones.
Eastern redcedar blue fruit
I like the color in winter as the red cedar turns to a brownish shade.

Fall planting is ideal for these native shrubs.  The extra moisture will settle the roots into the soil before the ground freezes.  And the plant will be ready to give us it all come spring. 
fall planting

Planting can continue until the ground freezes, so pick a favorite, enhance your space, and enjoy. 

What natives do you like?  I certainly didn't list them all here.

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