ShadyGardens Blog

January 26, 2009

Alternatives to Invasive Plants in the Garden

My gardening goals have changed much over the years. In the beginning I was enticed with plant descriptions such as ‘fast growing’, ‘prolific spreader’, or ‘reseeds freely’, envisioning a lush garden covered with beautiful plants after minimal monetary investment and less work.

Perhaps it was when I enrolled in the Master Gardener Class that I learned of the dangers of planting invasive plants, but it should have been obvious to me sooner. I need only to step outdoors to view the rampant spread of the very aggressive Japanese Honeysuckle. Every time I drive my children to school, I see hillsides overtaken with Kudzu.

Now I view planting invasive exotic plants as down right wrong. Aggressive plants like Kudzu can completely take over a whole field in little time, even killing large trees by blocking sunlight and stealing the very little water we get during drought common to this part of the country.

So as you plan additions to your garden this year, take a moment to investigate a plant’s reputation before adding it to your garden.

To offer a little assistance, here’s a short list of invasive plants that are still bought, sold, and planted, along with a more environmentally-friendly alternative:

  • Japanese Honeysuckle – Plant our native honeysuckle instead, Lonicera sempervirens, commonly referred to as Red Trumpet Honeysuckle or Coral Honeysuckle.
  • Japanese Pachysandranda – Instead, try our native Pachysandra Procumbens, which is variegated, offering much more beauty than the plain green invasive one.
  • Privet – Well, there are many alternatives to Privet. Anything at all would be better. For a non-invasive hedge, consider holly, viburnum, shrub roses, or camellias.
  • Wisteria – Yes, we even have a native wisteria that’s much better than the very invasive Chinese or Japanese Wisteria. Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’ is available in many nurseries and home improvement stores. Before buying wisteria, check the label. If it merely reads ‘Wisteria,’ stay away from it. If it’s Wisteria frutescens, it’ll be labeled as such.

January 18, 2009

Deer-Proof Gardening in the South

Filed under: Daphne, Deer, deterrant, ga, garden, Hellebore, repellant, resistant, rohdea, rosemary, South — shadygardens @ 8:14 pm

As a nursery owner, I’m often asked how I keep deer from eating the plants. Well, actually I use a number of methods, none of them expensive. Deer fencing is not an option for us, since a fence must surround the whole garden and be 10 feet tall to keep out deer. And it would be impossible for us to spray our whole garden with deer repellent after every rain or watering.

Our large black lab Shadow used to keep the deer away from everything, but now that she’s getting older, she seems to have befriended some of them, lying down with them as they eat.

The best thing to do, since as gardeners, you’ll be planting anyway, is to choose plants deer won’t eat.

A good plant type to use are those with prickly leaves or thorny branches, but deer do have the ability to pick berries and roses in spite of the thorns. I’ve even found where they’ve tasted of my holly shrubs and pyracantha, if you can believe it!

And although it’s true that deer seem to know what is poisonous to them, some plants that are poisonous to us are not so to deer, such as rhododendron and azaleas, for instance.

I hope to share with you some of our experience with this short list of plants that have proved to be not quite so tasty to the deer in our garden:

  • Acuba
  • Aspidistra
  • Barberry
  • Boxwood
  • Daffodil
  • Daphne odora
  • Dusty Miller
  • Fatsia Japanica
  • Hellebore, Helleborus
  • Loropetalum
  • Oleander
  • Osmanthus
  • Rohdea
  • Viburnum
  • Yaupon Holly


Also, all aromatic herbs, with the exception of basil, are detested by deer. And the fragrance of rosemary, which is very pleasing to us, seems to have a repellant effect on deer, causing them to go elsewhere in their search of food.

For a list of native plants that aren’t usually food for deer, please visit our other site, Plant Native.

Gardening In Deer Country

Filed under: buckeye, Deer, deterrent, garden, gardening, gardens, Magnolia, native, plant, plants, resistant, sedums, shrub — shadygardens @ 7:31 pm

As lovers of animals, we welcome all wildlife into our garden, even deer and squirrels. We enjoy seeing the squirrels run and play among the oak trees and we like it when we awake to watch deer eating fallen acorns early in the morning fog. What we do not like, though, is taking a walk in our woodland garden to find that the deer have apparently enjoyed an all night buffet in our hosta bed, or enjoyed the tender buds of our blueberry bushes that held bloom buds that would have ultimately developed into juicy berries for our children.

Shadow, or large black lab, is getting older, taking more naps and chasing deer less. Actually, I have observed her lying down on a soft bed of leaves while watching deer forage right beside her! We accept that though, since she is a very good dog.

Still, we’d like to enjoy the investments we’ve made in our garden. Plants can get expensive. So what do we do about it? Getting rid of the deer is not an option for us. Fencing must be at least 10 feet tall and surround the whole garden to be effective. Deer deterrant sprays are too expensive and are just temporary, having to be resprayed after every rain or watering.

The best option we’ve come up with is to plant things deer do not eat. Many of the plants disliked by deer come with a strong fragrance which will fool the deer into thinking there’s nothing there they want. For every plant they like, we try to plant one they don’t.

Unfortunately, many of our native plants are tasty to deer. Afterall, God created a food source for the animals when he made the animals. If you have the space, you might just want to plant plenty of the plant, hoping when they eat, they’ll leave some for you to enjoy.

But there are a few easy to find native plants deer don’t like, and here’s a list to give you some ideas:

  • Buckeye
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Coreopsis
  • Iris
  • Native Ferns
  • Magnolia
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Sedums
  • Verbena
  • Witch Hazel
  • Yarrow

The deer-resistant plant list can be lengthened if you consider adding some non-native, yet non-invasive, plants to your garden. Herbs are great, since their scent is not a favorite of deer. Rosemary has helped us alot, making a great companion plant for our native dry roadside garden. For a list of non-native plants you should consider, please visit our other site, Gardening Shady Style.

January 7, 2009

Shadygardener: Ebay Seller Opens Shady Gardens Nursery

Filed under: ebay, mail order, native, nursery, online, plant, plants, Shady Gardens, shadygardener, store — shadygardens @ 4:27 pm

One of the favorite sellers of plants on ebay is now selling on her own site outside of ebay!

“AWESOME ITEM – VERY PLEASED WITH TOTAL TRANS. & HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS EBAYER!!!!” “The important thing is that the selections are unique & quality excellent!” “Shipment was fast and plant was better than expected, thanks!” “One of my favorite sellers. Beautiful healthy plants.” “Will buy from this seller again and again …”

Those are just a few of the feedback comments left for shadygardener on ebay. You can read more about shadygardener’s feedback on ebay.

If you’ve been searching for native plants or other hard to find plants for your garden, there is a good selection of unusual plants on ebay. But if you’d rather not purchase on ebay, you can go directly to shadygardener’s online nursery site: Shady Gardens Nursery.

Plants will be promptly shipped directly to you at a great price, and if you’re looking for something not listed in the current inventory, they’ll try to find it for you!

Pruning Native Azaleas

Filed under: azalea, garden, native, prune, pruning, rhododendron — shadygardens @ 2:57 pm

As a native plant nursery owner, I’m often asked when should the Native Azaleas be pruned? Well, definitely not now, that’s for sure! Many new gardeners mistakenly think all plants should be pruned in winter, but that’s not so with most plants that bloom in early spring.

Azaleas and rhododendrons rarely need pruning anyway. I prune away only damaged or dead wood on azaleas. That should be done anytime damaged or dead wood is observed, to prevent disease.

Most of the native Azaleas bloom in spring, and they bloom on old wood. That means that the flower buds for this spring have already formed. Pruning now will remove those flower buds. If you need to control the size of your native azaleas or just want to shape up your plant’s form, wait until after the blooms fade and prune then.

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