shrub suggestions

ala8southAugust 17, 2010

I have one spot in my zone 8b garden to fill with a low maintenance shrub that could be 5-6 feet across and 6-9 feet tall. Whatever I get must bloom at some time of the year and I do want a bushy shape. Evergreen too would be excellent. The area is full sun with late afternoon shade and in the inside corner of a privacy fence.

So far I have eliminated these:


camellia (unless there is truly no alternative)

gardenia (allergic)

loropetallum (my husband hates them. As nearly as I can figure, it is that he is looking for something less "straggly")

I was set to buy a tea olive today but the lady at the nursery told me it would get way too large for the area. Input on that? I've not dealt with her before and don't know what her knowledge base is.

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Abelia do very well for me, check them out. They can get very big but I keep mine in bounds with occasional pruning. I have Frances Mason, a yellowish color and pretty in fall, and Edward Groucher, stays green. The flowers are small but attract bees, butterflies, and hummers. The flowers stay all summer. I also love my limelight hydrangea, but I don't think it's evergreen. However it is doing very very well this summer. What about mock orange (philadelphus?) which I would love to have, but is deciduous I beleive and can get big but you can prune it.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 9:05PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Tea Olive can get to be quite large in your location. And I daresay that if your husband thinks that Loropetalum is scraggly, he will think that Abelia is, too.

You might consider a Pittosporum tobira, and not one of the dwarf cultivars. Beautiful, evergreen foliage and it blooms quite heavily in the spring. The pretty ivory colored flowers smell divine, which is why some people refer to this plant as mock orange (but not Philadelphus).

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 11:14PM
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Having lived in zone 8, I am surprised that you have eliminated azaleas. I wish I could grow azaleas here.

Camellias are high maintenance. Unless you really want a camellia, I wouldn't pick it. Also If it the perfume from gardenias that set off your allergies. Tea olives may bother you too--very fragrant.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 7:13AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

miamibarb, just curious....why do you consider camellias as high maintenance? I've always considered it a 'plant it and forget it' type of plant.

I assumed that our poster eliminated azaleas and camellias because there might be too much sun in this particular location. Or she has so many of them already and wants something different. I have too much sun at our home, but I sure wish that I could have BOTH azaleas and camellias.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 12:11PM
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I was also surprised about camellias being considered high maint. I find them very easy, I do nothing to them. Azaleas are hard, in my opinion, I have killed plenty of them. Sigh.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 9:21PM
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laughing....I guess I could have explained. We do have 3 reblooming azaleas in our front yard. We previously lived in a 100 year old house that had 10 what must have been 100- year old formosa azaleas. They were drop dead gorgeous amd we thoroughly enjoyed them. Except for them requiring spraying. We remember too well the one year where each of us got sick as a dog after spraying. With 8 foot tall bushes it is darned hard not to get the chemicals on you when you have to reach way inside to spray! And harder still not to breathe the stuff! Anyway, the particular spot I need to fill is brutally full sun.

And the camellia.....had bug problems with the 12 foot tall bush too. Suspect it will be too sunny for those as well. Other than the bugs issue, oh and some kind of petal blight that we got a couple times, we basically ignored them. No I take that back, because of the problems we had I would pick up the blooms that had dropped. But mainly I think we are just ready for something different.

Had considered the abelia but do suspect they would be too straggly for him. Is there a Weigela that gets quite tall? Or do they need shade? Don't know if I have seen a mature one and wonder at the shape? Are they straggly too? Have only just planted one this year and can't judge yet.

Had the limelight hydrangea recommended to me. Is it really tough? Pest or disease problems? I'm trying to decide if I really like hydrangea's in my yard. (anyone else find you can love something in other people's yards but not your own?) Have you tried one called strawberry something? Darn, I saw it in Garden Gate magazine and almost drowned in my drool; and no longer have the mag to look it up.

Honest I'm not trying to be difficult....this is the last large spot I will have to fill in my yard so I want to make very sure what I get we will love. And am having to find ways to garden more wisely as I age. Am checking out all your suggestions.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 10:32PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I have Limelight Hydrangeas and they are very tough. The conditions you describe sound ideal for them. The only maintenance I ever give mine is to cut them back by 1/3 to 1/2 in late winter and sprinkle some cottonseed meal over the root zones at the same time. They do well on rain alone, even though they're planted among large trees. They like a good bit of sun, but also like afternoon shade. They should be ideal for you unless you insist on an evergreen. If you go with a Limelight, underplant it thickly with spring flowering bulbs. You'll love the look.

Weigela might do well for you as well. I have several, but hands down, my favorite is the variegated one. The foliage is beautiful. It would like the conditions you describe. Weigela florida, variegata is an open arching shrub, somewhat similar in form to spirea (bridal wreath), though not quite as fountain shaped. The blooms are pretty but last only about a week to ten days: another reason to go wtih good looking foliage. It is also not evergreen.

I believe the "strawberry" bush you are talking about might be Euonymous americanas, also known as "hearts a bustin". I have this and it is a wonderful shrub. It is very neat and well behaved. It's said to sucker, but mine never has. It blends into the background during summer, but in late summer and fall it really shines: great fall color and the fruit is beautiful. The stems stay bright green all winter, so although it's not "evergreen", it is, in a way. I have mine on the edge of a woodland and have never done anything to it but prune a wayward branch very occasionally. If you can find one (it's usually a pass-along), it's well worth having.

I know they are common, but Nandina domestica is hard to beat: evergreen, blooms in spring, berries in winter, great fall color. If the soil they're in is not too well cultivated and not continually wet, they don't sucker too badly.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 10:45AM
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"Just curious....why do you consider camellias as high maintenance? I've always considered it a 'plant it and forget it' type of plant."

In North Florida (locations can change things), camellias need spraying to prevent scale. Without spraying, the leaves look terrible. Camellias also suffered from nutritional deficiencies. One time (as a child), I was assigned to washing each and every leaf with soap to get rid of scale. (Maintenance doesn't get much higher.)

The Azaleas (mostly Formosa) on the other hand always looked good. Don't remember sun being an issue. Spraying helped the blooms on these azaleas last longer, but the foliage didn't need it. They seemed rather indestructible.

I was thinking that crape myrtles or old-fashioned roses-- teas (not hybrid teas), noisettes, hybrid musks etc. might be worth considering. Also Sasanquas might be worth considering, since they take more sun than camellias.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 9:32PM
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Here is my Skip Laural.
It blooms in the spring with white small fluffy blooms.
It is evergreen and naturally grows in the shape you see. I have not had to do anything to it.
Currently it is about 9 feet tall by 5 feet wide.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 8:16AM
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