ShadyGardens Blog

October 16, 2008

Native Aster: Drought Tolerant Fall Blooming Perennials

Filed under: aster, dought tolerant, drought, native, native plant, native plants, nursery, Raydon's Favorite — shadygardens @ 8:19 pm


Every year with the onset of cooler weather, gardeners in our area flock to the nearest garden center to purchase fall mums for our gardens. Why do we do that again, year after year? Because although perennials, mums don’t always survive our tough summers. Some chrysanthemums planted in previous years are still around, but if every mum I’d ever planted was still alive, I’d have no room for anything else!

So, what’s an alternative? Something that’ll provide eye-catching fall color every single year without replanting every fall? (You know I have one, Honey!) Asters! Asters come in many colors and sizes, so there’s one that’s perfect for your garden.

My favorite right now is Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite.’ Bright lavender daisy-like flowers with yellow centers show off in our roadside garden although we’re still experiencing drought conditions. I’ll be planting more this weekend. Asters grow very well in our climate, loving hot, summer sun, and not minding our inconsistent winters.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-7.

Deer Resistant – Deer do not like the aromatic foliage!

Soil Requirement: Asters do well in just about any soil as long as well-drained.

Attracts butterflies.

Great cut flower.

With attributes like that, one might find it hard to believe that it’s a native plant, but Aster oblongifolius is found on hillsides and cliffs here in the United States. You can’t beat it for an easy care, drought tolerant plant in full sun.

September 12, 2008

American Beautyberry: Callicarpa Americana

Filed under: Beauty Berry, Beautyberry, Callicarpa, dought tolerant, native plant, native shrub. — shadygardens @ 5:12 pm

One of my very favorite plants of all is the American Beautyberry. One of the showiest of all native plants, Callicarpa americana, displays vibrant purple berry clusters all along the stems at a time when few plants are blooming in the garden.

Insignificant tiny blossoms appear in early summer, berries develop later in summer, beginning to change from green to purple in late August.

The bright purple berries are held tightly in clusters along the stems and between the leaves. The berries really begin to show off as they remain on the stems long after all leaves have fallen from the plant. Although we don’t get snow here, I’ve seen breathtakingly beautiful photos of American Beautyberry with snow and icycles. Wow!

Easy to grow and very drought-tolerant, Callicarpa Americana will grow quite large–up to 10 feet tall and wide, but it is easy to contain as a smaller specimen with just one pruning per year at the end of winter or early spring. Since the plant blooms and forms berries on new growth, you can conveniently prune when your climate begins warming up without sacrificing your berry production in fall.

American Beautyberry makes a lovely specimen shrub but is even more spectacular when massed in groups of 3 or more.

An added bonus is that songbirds like the berries, once they begin to shrivel. I suppose they sweeten a bit as they age.

Foliage is large, bright green leaves that are attractive even without blooms or berries. Deciduous leaves fall at onset of cold weather, leaving the bright purple very showy berries to remain well into winter, often as late as January, depending on climate.

One of the most showy American native plants that I know of, the American Beautyberry is worthy to be planted in every garden. Find one for your garden at http://www.shadygardensnursery.com/.

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