(chicago) shrubs for west wall

aphillaApril 11, 2006

So we're looking for a couple of tallish shrubs for the west side of our house. (We live in NW 'burbs of Chicago.)It gets good sun in the afternoon. We have windows out of our family room that come to about 4' off the ground and we'd like to plant these under those windows so that they grow up and the tops become visible eventually, but we don't want them to obscure the whole window. There are two windows each about 42" wide.

Here are some plants we are considering and would like feedback about the manageabilty of them, how far from the house they should be planted, and their invasiveness. Also suggestions for other things are welcome (we won't use hydrangeas as we already have a lot of them).

Arnold Red Honeysuckle (probably too tall eventually, but maybe it's okay)

Blue Muffin Viburnum

Onondaga Viburnum

Lemon Lights Azalea

Butterfly bush

Joe Pye Weed



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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

I have no experience with the plants on your list, but I have Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' in my front yard. My house faces west. She is one easy going shrub and beautiful for nearly 10 months of the year. I prune her down each April. A very forgiving plant.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 12:30AM
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I have Annabelle hydrangeas in our front yard also (facing east). Just put them in last fall. How far down do you prune them?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 8:07AM
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Butterfly bushes can be iffy in our climate. Joe pye weed is a perennial, not a shrub, so there will not be winter interest (unless you count the dried stalks.) I don't think many azaleas can take that strong afternoon sun. Have you looked into Weigelas, barberries (careful, some are invasive) or evergreens? Viburnums are beautiful, but do some research on what type to get to avoid disease, and which combinations to have if you want berries. They need another one of a specific type to pollinate. One alone won't get berries. A good website to check for shrubs in your specific location would be the Chicago Botanical Gardens, or the Morton Arboretum. Unfortunetly, my western location is shady due to trees, so I can't give any personal help. I do have a hydrangea "Pink Diamond" that I planted last year in the sunniest SW corner, and so far so good, but I hear they can be gangly. Oh, just thought of fothergilla. Mine's in the east, but with more sun, the fall foliage is stunning. I have the dwarf one, not the straight species.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 1:59PM
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hostared(Z5, IL)

Lime Light Hydrangea, Oak leaf Hydrangea. Any Wegilia...I personally like Wine and Roses. Nine Bark Dark almost black leaves with white flowers. Viburnums or Sambucus.
All good choices and can take to pruning if needed.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 9:17PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

If you just planted Annabelle last fall, wait until next spring to prune her. Don't prune her this year.

I normally prune mine to the ground (3 - 5 - 6" depending on the lowest leaf node) each spring. Last year, after reading that she actually bloomed from both old and new wood, I did not prune mine at all. Well, she grew so big and crowded that the seedheads were much smaller than usual, so this year I prume them all down last month.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 11:15PM
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