Hopseed or Oleander

azlady(z9 AZ)January 15, 2011

I'm looking to plant something along our property line - about 25 feet of it. We need this for privacy reasons and there is no fence there, gets sun most of the day.

I would like to have something that is about 6 feet tall by next summer (wish it could be this summer). It should be an evergreen and need little water once established (do I have to put it on a drip, can I hand water until established?).

Trying to decide between Hopseed bush and Oleander. I was also thinking of Pyracantha, which would make a nice security barrier with the thorns, but isn't that more of a vine?

What are your thoughts?

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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hiya! All of your candidate plants are pretty good options. I LOVE oleander and have a small hedge of some dwarf plants, plus a couple of others that came with this house, buuuuut a lot of folks are concerned about oleander blight which has moved in to the Phoenix area--it does kill infected oleanders when it occurs.

That being said, even though I love oleanders, I planted a small privacy hedge two years ago and I used hopseed since it doesn't get the blight. It has a lot to recommend it: it's native, very low water when established, grows quickly when watered frequently, and looks better when trimmed than oleander does. The downsides are that it doesn't have super showy blooms, and it does self sow a bit (but seedlings are easily pulled or transplanted--and oleander self sows too).

If you feel like gambling, you could go with oleander, but if you want something less likely to have problems with blight, I'd go with hopseed.

Pyracantha is pretty good, but often needs trimming to keep growing upright instead of out, it can get bleached leaves/chlorosis too, and it doesn't grow as fast in my opinion as hopseed does, but let's see what everyone else says too.

Hopseed will need fairly regular water the first spring, summer and autumn, and then can be weaned to less and less water. I watered mine 2x a week the first summer, and then 1x a week their second summer, and now I hand water them with a hose once a month or so in summer. If you water them a lot, they grow a lot; if you water them less, they grow less, so you can push them a bit when you first plant them, and then s-l-o-w-l-y cut back on water when they're getting closer to the size you want.

I'm curious to hear other folks' opinions. I'm a huge oleander fan, but I just wouldn't chance a bit long privacy hedge with them, due to that darn blight threat.

Let us know what you do and how it works out.
Take care,

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 6:37PM
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azlady(z9 AZ)

Thank you for the info on Hopseed Grant! Sounds like it is a good choice. If I (eventually) want full hedges, or at least spaced so that no one can see past them, how far apart should I plant them?

Also, I've seen regular Hopseed and purple Hopseed. Which did you plant?

Thanks again and I am also looking forward to the others' comments.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 10:16AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

I planted regular/green hopseed--both are great of course; the purple turns a bruised burgundy/purple in winter and reverts to green for summer.

You can plant them fairly far apart if you're willing to wait longer for privacy; 8 feet apart wouldn't be too far, but it would take a couple/several years for them to fill in. I'm not patient, LOL, so I planted mine three feet apart and they filled in by their second summer back when they were on more irrigation. Now I'd prefer they just slow down since they've filled in, so I water them a lot less to reduce the need to trim them.

Keep us posted--good luck!
Take care,

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 2:17PM
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I'll tell you what happened to me. I planted a whole hedge of oleander across my front yard - which is pretty big. Took about 5 years for them to finally get full grown - but they were really pretty. I mixed some lantana and sage in there too.

Then the blight came. It was awful. Everyone thought I stopped watering. My home looked like it was abandoned.

It took trucks with chains to pull the carcases out of there. Now my whole front yard - exposed on 5th Street looked like a bomb field.

So I replaced all that with hopseeds. The green ones are great. Two years and they are over 4 feet high and about 3 feet wide. The purple one - not so much. They grow much slower and suffer in the frost.

I only wish the rest of the oleander would die so that I could replace them too. It will never look right over there. The oleanders that survived are bare up to about 5 feet high. Then they leaf out.

If I were you - make your hedge out of green hopseeds - after all, its utility for privacy. Then I'd add infront Arizona Yellow Bells, purple lantana and red sage for color. Make a western style garden but with southwestern plants. You could really do something special. Maybe some Arizona mallow, desert butterfly bush, sweet potato vines. Stuff that always works and isn't suseptible to disease and drought.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 11:06AM
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azlady(z9 AZ)

Wow, that is some story. I do like the idea with the green hopseeds and adding color to it. The red sage looks beautiful.

I guess I will have to put some irrigation there, I was hoping to just hand water for the next 12-18 months.

Thank you both for your input.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 1:38PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Wow, that IS an amazing story. Sorry to hear about your oleanders getting blight. "They" say it's going to be pretty common around here soon. I have a couple of single oleanders just for blooms really, plus a small row of dwarf pink oleanders around my patio (I put them in knowing they're a risk I could live with, even if they can't, LOL).

Glad to hear your hopseed has done a good job as a substitute. Your new hedge sounds really neat, and I love the idea of mixing in other things as you described--NEAT. When you say "red sage" what plant do you mean? I'm guess either Salvia coccinea or S. greggii but I'd love to hear more.

Thanks for the fun posts--keep us posted AZ Lady!
Take care,

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 3:10PM
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What about root spread? Can it be planted near a leach field without worry?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 6:52PM
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