What would you put here?

clueless_in_alabama(7b)April 5, 2010

We want something to cool down this side of the house that gets full sun. We'd like something as tall as 6-8 feet but that wouldn't get wider than maybe 4-5 feet--just so we can still walk on this side of the house if necessary. (We'll be getting rid of the satellite dish but will still need to access the faucet here--our house builders didn't put one in the back!)

Would want something that can stand hot and dry. Would prefer something evergreen that gets flowers.

Read a description of abelia last night and it sounded perfect but I have since learned that most cultivars are around 4 feet. Taller ones would get too wide. It's too bad because I love the idea of attracting hummingbirds and butterflies at the same time.

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The bulk of flowering evergreen shrubs hardy for your zone will get as wider (or wider) than they grow tall. You could try a vine on a trellis. Or rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus - not evergreen, but flowers profusely through summer, loves hot and dry, can be espaliered or grown primarily in 2 dimensions (very easily trained or pruned). And attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 8:47PM
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Gardengal, can I ask a dumb question: what do you mean about being grown in 2 dimensions? Do you mean we can have it high and wide against the wall but not sticking out too far? I saw a picture of it in my "Alabama and Mississippi Gardener's Guide" and it's beautiful. Says there's a variety called Diana that has continuous white blooms--I would love that. Wonder how difficult it would be to find.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 9:28PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I grow a Rose of Sharon near the end of our 'south alley'. The entire alley is only 8' wide, with a path in the middle and two narrow beds on either side, so the RoS has to stay within 2' or so wide. It's easy to do that by pruning off any branches heading out into the pah space. Because RoS blooms on 'new wood' (the current season's growth), you can prune it as hard as need be in spring and it will bloom well that year. This isn't the greatest picture and we pruned it extra hard last year so there wasn't as many branches but you can see the 2 dimensional aspect of it:

(The chains are the end of the rose swag. The double RoS flowers look very much like a rose from a distance so it makes a nice end point for the rose swag.)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 9:12AM
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Woody explained - and illustrated - it very well :-) Trained in 2 dimensions means you encourage both vertical and horizontal growth and remove any growth that encroaches into your walkway or too far into the side yard, leaving the shrub more or less flat against the side of the house.

'Diana' is a very popular selection of RoS....you shouldn't have trouble locating.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 10:59AM
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Does Rose of Sharon need to have a trellis or some other kind of support to get it to grow tall and wide along the side of the house?

Do birds and butterflies like it? I really like that purple color and might go for that one instead of Diana. How is it as far as pests? Will it stay green throughout the winter?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 12:45PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

No, they don't need a trellis or support - you just prune them to grow where you want. I'm not sure about how they grow where you are, but here they are most often seen as large, leggy shrubs that flower on the tops only because most people don't prune them or don't prune them to get flowers all over the shrub. I was surprised the gardengal said 'bloom through the summer' - here they only bloom in August into September, which makes them a valuable late summer shrub. If you prune them to a narrow shape, you do need to do a severe prune every couple of years or else you'd end up with the tall, leggy look. The plant in picture above was cut back by about half that spring, staggering the cuts to make sure all the flowers wouldn't be on the top. In another two years I'll need to cut it back again. Every year I watch for branches growing out toward the path and cut them off to keep it to a narrow profile. It's very easy to do - essentially you just cut off what is growing where you don't want it.

It is listed as a plant that butterflies and hummingbirds like. I suspect the hummingbirds would prefer the single form. I have no idea what variety mine is. I bought it as 'tricolor', which is a grafted plant with three different kinds growing on one plant. I didn't like the other two and cut them off so now I only get the one in the picture.

As gardengal said, it's not evergreen. It also seeds around the base so you do need to eliminate seedlings (I tend to just cut them down).

And now I've probably made it sound like too much work to grow :-)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 3:42PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Mine has never seeded - I have Red Heart, and I really enjoy it. It's also a plant I like in winter as its branches are a nice grey colour. I grow it with a single trunk so it is a tree, not a shrub, so its bushiness is overhead, unlike a shrub which is often widest right at shoulder height. A tree shape will do better than a shrub at shading both this area and your house too.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 7:04PM
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What do you-all think about coral honeysuckle? (Maybe a yellow one to contrast with the red brick?) But I would need suggestions on how I'd construct a trellis to cover the 60-ft length of the house! Think I could make something myself?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 2:23PM
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