berry bushes on a hot sunny slope

lizzyvannFebruary 19, 2006

Hi all! I'm new to this site and have been enjoying reading many of the posts in here. I haven't seen this specific question posted--What fruiting shrubs will thrive on a sunny slope? I specifically want berrying shrubs to feed the birds. I live in Zone 5 with mostly clay soil and the slope is a steep, south facing one. The top of the slope is slightly shaded since the backside of the slope has 4 mature pine trees. I would like to plant shrubs at the top of the slope as well as all along the front of the slope. Most of the suitable shrubs I've been able to come up with so far aren't natives, and I would much prefer to stick with native shrubs. Help, anyone!!

Has anyone had success growing amelanchier stolonifera (running serviceberry) on a sunny slope? Sambucus (elderberry) and viburnum are others I have considered but I am doubtful they will recieve enough moisture.

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woodlandpixie(z6 NJ)

I've planted amelanchier stolonifera in a dry, sunny, native plant garden at a local school in N.J.. The garden did sit in the middle of a moderately sloping
front lawn. After the first year it received no supplemental watering . The shrub did well on this open dry site. It was lovely in bloom. Unfortunately the garden sucumbed to the "too messy in our front yard" crowd. I did save the amelanchier and some of the grasses.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 8:19AM
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Thanks Pixie! It's good to hear that the serviceberry was successful in that location. Were there any other berry bushes that did well in that garden?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 7:15PM
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woodlandpixie(z6 NJ)

The only other berrying shrubs we tried were blueberry and creeping cranberry. Neither survived. We thought since the soil was heavy clay enriched with compost it would be wet enough but we were unlucky and it was a dry spring and summer and watering was difficult. We might have been more successful with lowbush blueberry.
I have a Virginiana Rose that will take a dry sunny site and produces a good crop of rose hips each year that are supposed to be wildlife friendly but have yet to see any creature eat them. The rose does form a nice thicket, fragrant pink flowers in June, and young stems are a lovely red all winter.
Have you looked at the book "Native Plants of the Northeast" by Donald J. Leopold ? Both Cornus racemosa and Cornus rugosa along with
Vibernum acerifolium are listed as tolerating dry sites. Maybe someone has
personal experience with any of these. I'm going to try the Viburnum in a shady garden.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 6:43AM
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Thanks again for the info Pixie! That viburnum does sound pretty good. I haven't heard of that book before--my library doesn't have it. I already have 4 rugosa roses growing along the far edge of the slope--great rose hips, but no wildlife takers for me either. I wonder if the hips are too big?? Another question about the amelanchier for you, if you don't mind...was it filling in well? What I'm wondering is if it will make a good dense groundcover.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 7:58PM
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woodlandpixie(z6 NJ)

Hi lizzyvan,
The serviceberry grew about 3 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide in about 5 years. It had heavy competition from grasses, Switch and Indian, Eupatorium rugosum (Chocolate,this plant spreads too aggresively for my taste), ironweed, penstemon Husker Red, black eyed susan, goldenrod,echinacea, etc.
William Cullina in 'Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines' refers to Amelancheir stolonifera as having a " low scraggly habit...but could be used where a drought-tolerant spreading groundcover is spreads at the same rate as lowbush blueberry, making it a good companion "(pg 45). Our serviceberry was more of a full bush, I assume because of the competition from the surrounding plantings.
The Virginiana rose has small rose hips.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 5:25AM
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