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Big Effort, Little Effort with Flowering Shrubs

by Carole McCray

Early spring is the time to consider planting flowering shrubs to add interest and splashes of color to your landscape. These hardy, low maintenance bloomers are available in various shapes, sizes, and flower hues. Besides the eye appeal of flowering shrubs, some offer other seasonal rewards--fall foliage color, decorative and colorful berries, and attractive bark and form in the winter garden. They grow rapidly and bloom within the first season after planting. Since shrubs are less expensive to purchase than trees, but more costly than annual or perennial flowers, they are perfect for adding to your landscape planting over several years. Your local Growise Center will help you select shrubs that are best suited for your landscape design plan.

Where To Plant

Flowering shrubs are multi-purpose plantings that serve as immediate and easy solutions to perk up a difficult garden spot. They can work magical wonders for a bland and unattractive yard or transform a barren landscape each year with beautiful blooms. Where to plant will depend on your landscape needs and wants. Enhance the entryway to your home with shrubs in your favorite color. Conceal a high house foundation with shrubs as foundation plantings. Place flowering shrubs to accent a unique architectural feature of your home. Plant shrubs where strong vertical architectural lines meet the ground. Informal shrub borders can act as a lovely living fence to divide your property and define a lot line. With careful and creative planning, flowering shrubs will become favorite components of your landscape.

What To Plant

Consider how the shrubs would look together and with other features and plantings in their surroundings. Note shape, size, flower and leaf color, and foliage texture of a flowering shrub. Shrubs come mainly in four shapes: arching, erect, rounded, and spreading.

Beautybush, forsythia, honeysuckle, spirea, and deutzia are shrubs with arching branches. Their fountain-like forms give a tranquil touch to the garden. When in bloom, arching shrubs will display a showy mass of color that make them very beautiful border plantings. Blooming from early spring to late summer means a mix of the aforementioned will provide long-lasting landscape color.

Flowering shrubs that are erect or upright in form are good for accenting a specific area of your home or yard. Fine choices for flowers from mid spring to late summer are common lilac, red-osier dogwood, lemoine mock orange, and hibiscus (Rose-of-sharon). Erectly shaped shrubs are ideal camouflage plantings. For narrow spots, try Rose-of-sharon.

Rounded forms are best planted in areas where space is no problem. Most spread up to six feet, so give them plenty of room for easy pruning. They serve well as informal border plantings. For showy flowers in a spectrum of shades from mid-spring to late summer, consider rounded shrubs like flowering quince, weigela, hydrangea, and summersweet.

Spreading shrubs have extended branches. They provide horizontal lines that bring attention to distinctive design elements of a home. As excellent foreground plants, they can make a high wall appear lower. Spreading cotoneaster, fragrant viburnum, morrow honeysuckle, and cinquefoil are a few of the spreading variety. Visit your Growise Center for information on what shrubs grow best in your area.

How To Plant Shrubs

Four simple planting steps will give your new shrubs a healthy start.

1. Buy healthy, container grown shrubs from a reputable garden center that are balled and burlapped or container grown. Remove shrub from container by cutting the pot with a knife. If burlapped, loosen burlap only at the trunk; the burlap will decay rapidly and will not interfere with root development.

2. Dig a hole that is deeper and wider than the root ball. Add soil to the bottom of the hole until the shrub can be planted at the same depth as when in the pot.

3. Fill the hole with soil and tamp down.

4. Mulch shrubs with a 4" layer of shredded bark. Water to keep soil slightly moist until the shrub is established. When planting a row of shrubs, cover row with synthetic garden fabric to prevent weed growth.

Give careful attention to the needs of your flowering shrubs when you select the site for them. Consider important factors like sun or shade, wet or dry soil, winter protection, pruning requirements, and climate zone hardiness.

Spring is a popular season with gardeners ready to try different plantings. Look at quick and carefree flowering shrubs to add a new dimension to your gardening and landscape.

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