Our trees are leafing out, our fight against the ever-encroaching weeds is underway and hopefully your woody plants have had at least one drink since coming out of winter hibernation. And best of all — not many problems are bugging us yet.
So let's consider planting some woody plants that will have very few problems in the first place.
Now is the time to start thinking about planting some new plants into our landscape. What could be better than adding some long-blooming perennials to your garden? Unlike many annual bedding plants that can bloom continuously, most woody perennials have a much shorter flowering period, typically showing color for about a month. One way gardeners can have continuous bloom from herbaceous and woody perennials is by planting different kinds that bloom in early spring, late spring, summer and early fall.
However, there is a group of perennials that flower for extended periods of time, often for two to three months. This group includes: Russian sage, many salvias (also known as sages), hummingbird mint (or hyssop), catnip (or catmints), the buckwheat group of plants, the yarrows, several butterfly bush varieties, rabbit brush and Apache plume, to name a few.
I especially like the Russian sage because I can select from varieties that grow from 18 inches to three feet in height. They grow fast, do best in full sun and only need a drink every 2-3 months once established. And they bloom from mid-summer into the fall. And best of all, deer avoid these perennials.
Butterfly bush varieties attract both butterflies and hummingbirds with their long summer display of nectar-rich flowers. There are a great many varieties with a wide range in flower color from white to purple. These bushes do require more frequent watering, about once per month.
One of my favorite woody perennials is the agastaches or hummingbird mints. These, too, flower for a long time and are very attractive to hummingbirds. Deer do not bother them and their water requirements are minimal. In fact, these perennials can be killed if over watered or planted into wet, heavy, poor-draining clay soils. So amend your soils! Flower color ranges from orange to pink, to red, to purple. Some even smell like Double Bubble gum.
You know late summer and fall have arrived once rabbit brush starts lining the roadways with its pungent yellow flowers. Many kinds of butterflies, bees and beetles visit these flowers but deer stay away — except bucks that love to rub their antlers on the bush's many branches. Rabbit brush can tolerate a lot of water and become enormous as a result. Water only during extended dry spells once established to keep its growth in check.
I saved Apache bloom for last since this shrub is a real charmer. Its white, simple rose-like flowers appear all summer long, but the real treat is the feathery, pinkish appendages to its seeds. What a showy plant. It is a native and needs a drink only 1-3 times a year. Deer are not interested in this shrub.
So there you have it: some of my favorite flowering woody perennials and shrubs that, with one exception, need very little water, some attract butterflies and/or hummingbirds and many are attractive to bees. So get to the nursery, do a little window shopping and start planting some flowering perennials. Happy gardening.
Jim Leser retired to Cedaredge after a career with Texas A&M University Extension in entomology. He is a member of the Cedaredge Tree Board and a is master gardener.blog comments powered by Disqus