Choose These Durable Low Maintenance Shrubs for the Garden

Mike Lang shares his five favorite durable, low maintenance shrubs to landscape your homestead, including hardy vibernum, coreopsis and knock-out roses.

| March/April 2007

Learn about these durable low maintenance shrubs that make landscaping your property easy.

Would you like to add some pizzazz to your landscape this season? Are all the choices found in the plant catalogs in the magazine rack only making the decision of what to plant in the garden more confusing and difficult?

With thousands of plant options to select from to spruce up the garden, I have put together my five durable low maintenance shrubs to add color to the landscape. There are more exotic and colorful plants than those that made this list, but from the standpoint of durability, low maintenance and appeal, I think these plants will fit the bill even for homeowners with a brown thumb.

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea viginica) would be an outstanding addition to any garden. This plant offers white racemes of blooms, up to 6 inches long on arching branches in the late spring after other plants have finished up with their flowering. Glossy green foliage remains on the plant until fall, when an outstanding maroon presentation of color will appear and last well into winter. This is a native plant to the United States that can be found growing in southern and eastern states along swamps and bogs. The plant will grow in damp, dry, sunny or shady areas of the garden, although flowering dwindles a bit as shade increases. Sweetspire will grow in USDA Zones 5-9.

Some Virginia Sweetspire varieties to look for at the nursery are: "Henry's Garnet," which has better fall coloring than the native plants. Little Henry ("Sprich"), which, at 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide, is smaller in stature than "Henry's Garnet," which grows 4 to 5 feet tall. "Merlot" is a selection similar in size to Little Henry, but has a wine-red fall color.

Because it is an ordinary looking plant most of the year, Sweet Mockorange (Philadelphus sp.) is often overlooked as an addition to the landscape. White, nicely fragrant blooms cover this plant in late May. "Natchez" is one of my favorite cultivars that grows to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

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