Advice for Flowering Bush Poolside

jmcnyc(6)October 17, 2011

I have a nice spot next to the pool where I am pulling up an evergreen bush. It gets full sun and is in an area that you would only see if you were down the hill by the pool - so you wouldnt see it in the winter. I want to plant a bush that does not get more than 4 or 5 ft high - and flowers all summer. I was thinking Crape Murtle - but it could be more than one kind as I have the space. The soil is clay like - so that may be a limiting factor. It is also in an area that gets full sun and is not on the sprinkler system - so may get dry. Any advice?

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My crape myrtles don't bloom until late August, normally; they're one of the very last woodies to flower in my garden. The closest anything I've got comes to blooming all summer is Fairy rose, which is under 4 feet high and is as tough as nails. I know there are other long-blooming roses, I just don't happen to have them.

I have a row of 4' tall russian sage near my pool that blooms for well over a month, but I wouldn't recommend it because it attracts bees; I'm planning to move it away from the pool area (one of these years).

Annabelle hydrangea is about the size you're talking about, and is also very tough, and having sterile flowers it doesn't attract bees. Not sure how it would do in clay, but mine's in fairly poor sandy soil and blooms well without extra water.

ANYTHING you plant will need to be watered for the first few seasons, unless there's lots of rain. And almost nothing will grow well in unamended clay, so if this is a high-visibility area, you might want to add a load of compost to the native soil before you plant.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 8:49PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

I planted several knockout roses and they (or I) couldn't be happier. I have red, but they come in virtually all rose colors. Continuous bloom and no care at all. They are in sun all day and they don't get any supplemental water. I did water well for the first two months or so, because it was late June when they were planted. They just keep going and need no deadheading or any winter protection here.

Another small shrub that keeps on blooming with virtually no care is potentilla. Yellow, pink, peach, orange, red or white that I know of. Small leaves mean no mess near the pool.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 9:52AM
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Thanks for the advice - I want to avoid hydranga as I already have a bunch of it. As it is a big space do you think a mix of knock out roses and potentilla would be attractive? Both seem to do well in clay like soil. Any other recommendations? Low maintenance, flower all summer and thrive in clay like soil? Am I asking to much?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 3:59PM
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I think knockout or fairy roses would be lovely, as long as thorns are not an issue - not planted too close to where people need to move around the pool. The guy who cleans my pool gripes enough about non-thorny plants near the pool, and he'd quit if he could, but he's my husband, so he's stuck. If they're struggling because they're growing in clay, though, that could be a problem. Bill, how's the soil where your knockouts are planted?

Potentilla does in fact bloom for a long period of time, and does well in poor soil. Personally, I have to say I dislike the way it looks; I removed some I'd planted, after a few years. That's just a completely subjective opinion, but be sure you know what it looks like 'in person' before you make your decision.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 5:57PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

DTD, the soil here is average for the area. Some clay but fairly good drainage. Unless the soil in JMC's area is heavy clay, the roses should to fine. As for potentilla, some varieties can look a little ratty, but careful selection of some of the newer hybrids should give good results. One reason I suggested potentilla is because the leaves are very small so they should virtually disappear whenever they fall. Another idea might be the hardy hibiscus. They give a good 'wow' factor, and bloom for a long time. May be a height issue but again depends on the exact variety. The tops die off every winter, but a quick snip to the dead stalks is all it takes to keep things neat.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 10:36AM
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molie(z6 CT)

I second, or it it third?, the suggestion of knockout roses as they are pretty much self sufficient and really only require care during the initial planting time. Mostly these are rose, pink, magenta, though there is a pale yellow I have not tried, and bloom well into late fall. However, my soil is not clay so I can't vouch for their survival in your area.

From your description of the spot, it seems these plants will be far enough uphill from the pool so that bees are not a problem? Russian sage is magnificent with knockout roses because it spreads and weaves its way into other plants, has a airy quality, and is also carefree in most soils, especially if not wet. Again, as long as these are away from the pool area, this combo would be spectacular. The benefit to both of these plants is that they respond to tough love. You can cut them down, or back, and they'll return again and again.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 4:12PM
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Thanks for the advice - very helpful. The area to be planted is about 5 ft from the pool - however it is at the bottom of the stairs that provide access to the pool. So I dont want bees to take over and make this area inaccessible. Will knock out roses and russian sage turn this area into a bee party?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 4:59PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Russian sage will attract bees, but the roses are not any more bee magnets than most other things that you might use. They also have white knockout roses now in addition to single and double reds and pinks and there are yellow ones also.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 5:38AM
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whitegarden(Z5 MA)

I would also consider ornamental grasses. They are probably not what you were thinking of as far as long-blooming, but they have constant visual interest provided by their form, the interest of their foliage and their movement in a breeze.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 8:46AM
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