A Poll -- Most bloomingest/Showiest Shrub

gardenguru1950(SunsetZ16)September 3, 2007

Roses, azaleas, camellias are my givens.

What other shrubs would you all consider to be the showiest in flower and/or longest blooming for California gardens and landscapes?

Ease of care MIGHT be a factor.



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Brugmansia's cant be beat.And they fill your other parameters. Ditto for Bouganvillea.Mandavillia's like Red riding hood, or and better the Sun Parasols. Small shrubs,but shrubs.Fuschias.Plumeria,eh not easy.Desert bird of paradise is wildly colorful.Hibiscus is pretty standard.
Flannel bush if you want native.Or the tree mallows..the Catalina Island form was my favorite.
Leaving some for others to list...

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 9:10PM
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Dick_Sonia(Sunset 17)

One's exact climate will, of course, influence length of bloom and ease of care. Up where I live, Tibouchina urvilleana is in bloom from late July until about Christmas. Those royal purple flowers are hard to beat for visual bling. Where well adapted, it needs no care at all once established.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 9:15PM
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CA Kate

Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum frutescans ) only blooms twice a year, but when it does -- WOW! Those purple flowers against the silver leaves is soooooo beautiful. The rest of the year the silver leaves are pretty too. And, it is drought tolerant.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 10:09PM
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caavonldy(8/9 N CA)

I have 2 perennial sunflowers that are just blooming their heads off. I bought them at a plant sale in April in 1 gal containers. Now, they are 5-6 feet tall and quite bushy. I have to try to move them to another spot in my garden as they are much too big for where they are planted. They must go into the back of the bed.
Donna in Orland

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 10:33PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I would have to second the Tibouchina urvilleana for long, massive bloom here in coastal northern California. Certainly the Fremontodendron 'California Glory' is no slouch either. Abutilons seem to always be blooming here in my garden, and the Reed Stem Orchids, Epidendron hybrids are almost never out of bloom. For massive amounts of color over a very long season of bloom, and no need to dead head, I would also nominate Calandrinia spectabilis, especially if you like Fuchsia colored flowers that wave in the wind. The Arctotis hybrids are certainly contenders here in cooler coastal climates, where they seem to bloom all year round. Aloe 'Johnson's Hybrid' is another everbloomer for me, and the Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi' will bloom all year round when we have milder winters.

I like my flowering trees/shrubs to be knock out blinding primary colors; so I love my Tabebuia chrysotricha in bloom, the deep purple of Delastoma roseum, the cheery intense yellow of Parkinsonia aculeata, the deep rich pink of Chorisia speciosa, or the intense blue of Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps'. Passiflora membranacea and P. x exoniensis are pretty outrageous when in full bloom, as is ordinary Phaedranthus buccinatorius or the less commonly seen Distictis 'Rivers', or the gorgeous Dalechampia dioscoreifolia when in full bloom.

But at this particular moment, nothing compares to the luscious color and perfection of form of the Walking Iris, Neomarica coerulea. I love this one for the way it does 2 to 3 days of full bloom, sits out the next few days,(what is the bloom trigger, as all the plants in the garden seem to be on the same cycle?) and then bursts into bloom again, and repeats this over 6 to 8 weeks in late summer.

If we are to include plants that no one sells in the nurseries, then I would nominate the very rare Schima sinensis with its perfect Godonia like flowers and yellow stamens, or the exotic Xeronema callistemon with its gorgeous deep red feather brush flowers, or the fabulous foliage plant with its plumy whitish pink flowers, Helmholtzia glaberrima. Or should I mention the fabulous coppery with jade green/chartreuse foliage of the rare Phyllanthus flexuosus tree, a small arching tiered tree in the Euphorbia family from Japan? This is one that I have lusted after for years, and have yet to get one to live in my garden when I finally did acquire a small one. Or would it be the gorgeous South African Mimetes cucullata, the protea relative with silvery glistening foliage and such cute flowers?

Who is to say, there are just so many showy plants out there for people who just can't resist the rare, colorful or everblooming...

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 10:37PM
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"...there are just so many showy plants out there for people who just can't resist the rare, colorful or everblooming"

Indeed there are.

But just to keep this thread on track for my sake -- someone else should start a thread on perennials or trees and such -- I'm looking for flowering shrubs and those that are available in nurseries or through mail-order and on-line plant nurseries.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 10:51PM
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wanda(Z9 CA)

In my yard, I can recommend

Iochroma cyanoides...once it starts it doesn't stop. Ditto with I. coccinea and both are very showy as well as being hummingbird magnets.

Thunbergia battiscombei is in bloom from June til frost.

Blue potato bush, Solanum rantonetti, is always covered in flowers.

I have great hopes for CA native, Calliandra (Baja Fairy Duster). Mine were planted last fall and got totally knocked back by the freeze. They've finally back enough to produce a few flowers.

The Ceanothus and Carpenteria are definitely showy, but their bloom season is so short.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 12:24AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

A constant in bloom shrub here is Fuchsia magelianica. From June to frost the bloom is constant. My hummingbird population is competing with each other and the bumblebees in view of our north facing picture window. When the weather cools the foliage turns red and hangs on through the winter. Al

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 9:04AM
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The longest blooming shrubs in my yard are my Salvia greggii & S. x jamensis plants - 'Teresa' and a deep red one, as well as 'Sierra San Antonio', 'Moonlight', and 'Lowry's Peach'. They all started in spring, and haven't let up at all.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 9:36AM
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I agree with Wanda on the Calliandra. Mine is very small about 8x8 but has bloomed a few times. I am hoping for a monster some day.
It gets so hot here I am limited but the Salvia greggii, blue plumbago and russian sage have been blooming since spring.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 10:56AM
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Since its in bloom all over..Plumbago,the sky bluest flower around. I said it before and its true,Plumbago is seen all around freeways and commercial buildings and yet,you never see this low care plant in anybody's yard. What a waste.
I won't mention Oleander.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 11:30AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Roses, camellias and Azaleas may be the classics, but seldom have a really long bloom season or look good when out of bloom(roses), and seem abit staid to me with the choices a coastal California gardener has. Having said that, I do quite like many of the Sasanqua Camellias, and some of our native Rhododendrons such as R. occidentalis and the deciduous Exbury hybrids can be luscious in bloom as well as sometimes fragrant. All of the following shrubs are ones I count on for something different and either very showy blooms, or a long season of bloom, and usually with some sculptural or textural interest to the actual plant as well.

Other longest blooming:
Impatiens oliveri
Polygala x dalmasiana
Lycianthes rantonettii
Justicia brandegeana
Crowea exalata
Streptosolen jamesonii
Tagetes lemmonii
Tecoma x smithii
Plectranthus zuluensis

Other showiest in bloom:
Aloe arborescens
Banksia speciosa
Deppea splendens
Leucadendron salignum cultivars
leucospermum cordifolium
Leucospermum reflexum
Brunfelsia pauciflora v. macrantha
Crotalaria agatiflora
Dahlia imperialis
Erythrina x bidwillii
Clerodendrum trichotomum
Prostanthera ovalifolium
Gordonia axillaris
Justicia aurea
Justicia carnea
Justicia fulvicoma
Mackia bella
Metrosideros collina 'Spring Fire'
Mimulus/Diplacus hybrids
Musella lasiocarpa
Musa ornata
Pimelia pimelloides
Phylica plumosa
Protea 'Pink Ice'
Plectranthus ecklonii
Puya berteroniana
Salvia splendens Van Houttii
Salvia wagneriana
Salvia involucrata
Salvia madrensis

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 11:43AM
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In my yard,
Longest blooming = Tagetes lemonii
Showiest = Salvia elegans

The S. elegans is enhanced by the constant stream of hummingbirds feeding there in Fall.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 3:11PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Okay, so I'm a bit pedestrian in my tastes. My showiest and bloomingest plants are ivy geraniums in whiskey barrels. I would also like to make a plug for Bridal Wreath Spiraea. It only blooms once a year, but when it does, the six-foot long pure white arching cascades of bunches of ruffled baby's breath flowers are truly breathtaking. Mine are in half-shade and are not thirsty, and they even seem to be handling this week's 100-degree-plus weather.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 6:23PM
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I like the cupheas. Ignea, llavea, and my least favorite hyssopifolia all give me yearlong blooms and are very hardy.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 9:11PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Ivy geraniums are certainly nothing to sneeze at, and I really like them for the brilliant color they can give as well. But be forewarned, Joe was looking for shrub suggestions, not perennials or trees. It does also seem amazing that Spirea can do so well in both northern and southern California, is pretty drought tolerant, and does not seem to need any winter chilling to bloom well. Another one of those old fashioned plants that you generally only see in older gardens, and gets lots of attention when it blooms. Too bad that Lilacs don't perform as well...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 11:56AM
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SusanC(9b/10a Sunset 17)

Salvia confertiflora would bloom year-round here, if I didn't force myself to prune it once a year, and it's a real show-stopper. Rosa californica blooms May - September and then has lots of pretty hips that persist through winter. (It does sucker like a mad thing though so is best planted with a barrier.) Fuchsia paniculata blooms all summer and into fall and then follows up with pretty blue berries. Dichroa febrifuga has beautiful blue blooms spring through summer, followed by metallic blue berries.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 5:16PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Coprosmas are quite showy, although they are foliage, not flower plants. I've got one called 'Rainbow Surprise' and it's a beauty. Green and cream that flushes pink in cooler weather, and the foliage is so glossy it looks like its been lacquered.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 6:59PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I never grow pelargoniums, but I am gardening in a commercial lot faced with a large asphalt parking lot radiating enough heat to cook most flowering plants. When I removed the winter season bedding plants as the summer temperatures started, I put in some pelargoniums, leaving them in their one gallon pots so I could pull them out if need be. They have bloomed all summer with no wilting even though they are depending on a drip system that provides no water to the pots them self. When it gets cold I will pull them out and start new ones for next summer. I have a new respect for the lowly pelargonium. Al

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 10:02PM
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Wanda: My baja fairy duster just sits like a little miniature. It's at least 2 years old - and I keep it under quite a bit of mulch as it is HOT and windy in my garden in Temecula. It gets watered once a week. Got any suggestions? I would like to see it bloom!!!!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 10:52PM
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Caesalpinia pulcherrima (Pride of Barbados) is the showiest for me during the summer months.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 11:14PM
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HURRAY -- Caesalpinia pulcherrima has always been one of my favorite subshrubby things.

It's too bad it doesn't do anything in the cooler parts of our Central Coast but it does perform beautiful in our interior Valleys (such as the Santa Ynez Valley).

I remember visiting with a gentleman in Mesa, AZ many years ago who had selected out many separate colors of this plant, from near white through shades of pure yellow to deepest unfettered flame red. He even had a few that were much hardier that others.

Thanks cagary. Where is your garden, by the way?


    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 11:22PM
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I'm in south Orange County and 10 miles inland from the coast. My yellow blooms later ususally in early fall. I've never gotten my pink, creme, red or gold to bloom.

Check this color out!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 12:19AM
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Hoovb, I bought a Coprosma 'Rainbow Surprise' at the beginning of August, and I very much look forward to seeing it grow and turn that lovely shade when it gets cooler! Any tips for keeping it happy?

That first Caesalpinia pulcherrima is gorgeous! Too bad it's not favorable to my zone. :(


    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 10:56AM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

In my (rather shady) area of coastal SoCal, a hybrid abutilon is one of the longest blooming shrubs in the garden, along with salvia "Waverly". Fuchsia arborescens also has long bloom period. Iochroma cyaneum blooms well after the weather warms up. Buddleia varies from year to year.

I'm not sure what you would consider "showy", but I planted the above plants for hummingbirds -- bright flowers are a plus.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 4:55PM
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daxin(z9 Bay Area)

Boronia crenulata 'Shark Bay' is a little shrub that is not very showy but always in bloom. A new favorite is Ceratopetalum gummiferum 'Albery's Red' from San Marcos Growers with its red calyx lasting for many months. For visual impact, Duranta 'Gold Edge' is hard to beat, although it is the foliage that provides all the color.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 6:19PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Hoovb, I bought a Coprosma 'Rainbow Surprise' at the beginning of August, and I very much look forward to seeing it grow and turn that lovely shade when it gets cooler! Any tips for keeping it happy?

In my yard it wants: mild--in other words, morning sun, afternoon shade. It is a plant native to New Zealand--it doesn't like too much heat (or cold). Heat wave, shade it with something, until the extreme heat passes.

And pinch, pinch, pinch the tips (like a fuschia) to make it super full and bushy. Otherwise it is a bit lanky and not as beautiful as it can be. I've pinched mine into a dense globe, and it is gorgeous.

I have Duranta erecta 'Yellow Jade'. It's an intense chartreuse, really brilliant in the shade.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 8:28PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

This pelargonium hybrid is in bloom at least ten months out of the year.

The pink cestrum is ALWAYS in bloom. Always! The hummers adore it.

Although this is a vine and not a shrub, you could train this through a pillar and it would cover it in a flash. This coral passiflora is incredibly vigorous and gives me tons of Gulf Fritillary butterflies.

I also beg to differ on roses not producing most of the year. My 'Margaret Merrill' floribunda has spent 90% of its four year life in bloom. The first two years I had it in the ground, it spent a total of less than six weeks out of bloom before I severely pruned it back. It has far performed my other roses - I guess I must have found the perfect spot for it!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 10:21PM
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Thanks, Hoovb! I'm thinking mine is a little transplant shocked, as some of the leaves near the tips have turned a strange black color. I'll pinch those! :D


    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 10:37AM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I planted a hummingbird-friendly garden in Whittier (Inland LA County) a few years ago, and a few shrubs have bloomed every since: Cuphea "David Verity" has had hundreds, if not thousands of blooms constantly. They are 8 feet tall now and need to be cut way back, but the hummingbirds love them; Salvia x jamensis has also bloomed continually. Some of the original plants have died or been replaced, but seedlings have taken their places (so i am not really sure if I should call them Salvia x jamensis anymore. Some look a lot like regular Salvia microphylla). Hummingbirds love all of these salvias, and they survive even when the sprinklers are turned off for weeks at a time. In the almost frost-free climate on LA County both of these are constantly in flower.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 7:02PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

Im going with tibouchina urvillea (blooms from October through December). Bouganvillea would be my second one, although i would consider this a vine not a shrub). Pelargoniums are also year round bloomers for me.

When i see photos of desery bird of paradise, it makes me want to get one, but then i look down the street and i get discouraged at the sight of a HUGE cluster of these growing rampantly at an abandoned house. They look nice when in bloom, but are stressed, since they survive only on the water they recieve as rain, and we only get about 11 inches of rain on an average year. Right next to it, there is a rampant bouganvillea vine that looks much better under stressed conditions than it's neighbor pulcherima.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 8:23PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

Pink cestrum. It has never been out of bloom for the last three years.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 2:41PM
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