What Shrubs to Plant in Front of Porch

fairlight47(7bAL)August 26, 2011

Hello all, we are in need of some help. We currently have white Azaleas in front of the porch that faces East, and you know how Azaleas get when they're dying. What shrubs should we plant that can get up to 4FT high, and has flowers, is a perennial and in partial shade? I don't want Hydrangeas because of the sticks in the plant during the winter. Thanks for your input, we are out all of ideas and welcome any and all suggestions.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Tell us more about how many hours of sunlight this area gets. Is it like my eastern exposure...sun in the morning?

There are some Japanese holly options for you, though they don't have significant flowers. Do you know why the azaleas have done so poorly? Perhaps there is a problem with the soil or drainage that needs to be addressed.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 3:31PM
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Are you looking for perennial or evergreen? How formal do you want? And are there any other plants that they should be harmonious with?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 4:45PM
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Zone 7 Georgia? Is that coastal or in the hills?
I'd think that the azaleas would love the eastern exposure since their shallow root system does not want to be stressed by a lot of hot sun. They also like an acid soil, and take a lot of acidic mulching, such as pine straw or oak leaves, and they enjoy good drainage. Azaleas can take cold weather, and up in Massachusetts the kind of azalea is mostly the Korean style, not the Indica types we have along coastal Alabama.
I think you probably want an azalea, but must figure out how to keep them happy.

And since hydrangeas are not for you because you don't like the bare sticks in the winter, you are looking for evergreen plants. And perhaps blooming as well? Have you thought about camellias or sasanqua japonicas? They bloom, but unlike azaleas their heavy tree-like stems are bare at the bottom. You could still plant dwarf azaleas at the base of such plants. And the camellia is slow growing, can be trimmed to stay at your preferred height.

But again, they are acid loving plants.

Have you done a soil analysis? Highly recommended.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 5:02PM
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oH YEAH....how about nandina domestica?
They bloom, they make red berries, and they are evergreen, at least in zone 8B. They spread, they have a layered appearance as a good azalea does, and they would like an eastern exposure. They are easy to keep about 4 feet in height, but if you really fertilize them, some can reach much higher.
They are cheap, and very easy to grow.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 5:05PM
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Thank you all for your replies. I should have mentioned that the house faces East and we're on Weiss Lake, zone 7. The white Azaleas turn brown so soon and I really wanted some color that would last. Not formal at all.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 8:46AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Let's make this clear (to me). I'm confused, I guess, because azaleas should do just fine with morning (only) sun. Are you saying that the white FLOWERS turn brown so fast or that the entire plants are croaking for some reason? If it's just the flowers, then I'd suggest that you replace the azaleas with more azaleas, but of a different color.

The fungus disease that attacks azalea flowers seems more common on white ones, for some reason. This disease, called Petal Blight, can be prevented by a combination of horticultural housekeeping and timely applications of fungicide.

If the whole plant is dieing, then I still say that you need to figure out why before planting anything else.

I'll respectfully suggest that Nandina dometica is probably not the best of choices for you. As pretty as it is, it is happy to achieve heights of 8 feet (or more). Considered an aggressive grower, you'll be cutting this plant back more than once per year.

But the more serious issue is that of it's status as an invasive plant. A highly invasive plant. It is often on the top ten list of the worst offenders, especially in southern states.

Research has been on-going to produce more sterile cultivars than exist now, and it will be worth watching to see what happens. Right now, "Fire Power" is one of the cultivars that will not flower nor fruit. Some people don't like the coloring of that particular Nandina, though.

Some of the other dwarf Nandinas were reported to be sterile when they first came out, but revert pretty quickly. Also, even the non-fruiting varieties are still able to form thickets by suckering and underground rhizomes.


Above is a fact sheet from UFL that discusses the problems with Nandina and what we can do prevent this invasive species from causing problems in our own communities.

Here is a link that might be useful: More information

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 11:50AM
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Hey, Rhizo, I've just learned more about nandina domestica than I ever knew before. It has never been invasive for me, for whatever reason. But I know in the proper/wrong climate many plants can become invasive. So I'll retract the recommendation for nandina. Most of the ones I have now are the dwarf form, not FirePower but something with Fire in the name.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 5:38PM
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catbird(z7 AL)

You might consider something like yews, which are evergreen, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and will take sun or shade. You could mix them with some flowering shrubs or plant low flowering perennials and annuals in front of them.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 2:29PM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)

Low bush blueberries.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 2:41PM
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