Help me pick!

j0nd03January 7, 2012

I need to fill a pretty small space in the front flowerbed and would like to put a hydrangea in this spot. It is just slightly lower than the rest of the bed and is wettest part of the bed. It does not have standing water but when I run the soaker hoses in the bed, it is a little more soggy than the rest of the bed. The space I need to fill is 2-3' wide and my wife and I would like blue flower color although I don't know the ph of the soil. Height should be under 4'. I am in the Fort Smith, AR area. The spot faces the south and gets sun from noon-dark (not ideal, I know).

Anything out there that would do well in this spot?

If hydrangea is not good for this spot for whatever reason, I am open to other suggestions. Already in the bed is liriope, chinese fringe flower, day lillies, dynamite crape myrtle, chiffon azalea, nandina, and boxwood.

Thanks,

John

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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

I will ask my female counter part. she is much more in her area of expertise.

Arktrees

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 12:36AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

One of my favorites (that I can't grow) is Hydrangea serrata 'Blue Bird'. I would requiring pruning to keep it to size.

You're going to struggle finding a plant though. Hot afternoon sun, the size and blue flower are working against you.

What about getting a season long blooming perennial that is blue?

Or perhaps a white/pink flowering H. paniculata would be much much more sun tolerant. There are a couple dwarf varieties that stay about 3-4' so again pruning would be needed.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 8:40AM
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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)

Not a shrub, but how about a reblooming form of Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica)? Should be exceedingly happy in the conditions you've described.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 8:43AM
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j0nd03

Ha! I knew my tree forum friends wouldn't let me down ;)

VV - that surely is a pretty plant through pics on the net. I have not yet seen an iris flower in person that I liked, though. The only experience I have with them is seeing a few different varieties at the local big box store. I will show the wife pics and see what she says.

whaas - are the blue flowering varieties more sensitive to sun/heat? Bluebird is a very nice selection and I almost ordered one before I made the topic. I also like limelight but is gets way too big. I don't mind a little pruning but I don't want to fight a bush that gets 8'+ to keep it around 3-4'

You mentioned H. paniculata. Are they more tolerant to sun as a species? And I suppose the all white flowers are the best for full sun?

Ark - Look forward to the suggestions

All - As you can tell, I know NOTHING about these things lol

John

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 9:21AM
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Cher(6 SW OH)

If you like Limelight, they have out a new one similar which is Little Lime or even another supposedly smaller than that which is Bombshell (I believe). I don't have the smaller ones but have a couple Limelight, which are fantastic. Not blue, but my paniculatas are all in full sun. Of course I'm north of you so you would need comments for your zone.
Cher

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 9:48AM
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esh_ga

Dude - consider some native shrubs in the future! ;)

With just 2-3 feet in width, you might consider perennials as suggested above by the Iris. If you are only familiar with bearded iris then you might be pleasantly surprised by some of the others (like Siberian). The native Iris virginica is blue and tolerates wet.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 11:17AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Check out the link below in the perennials forums...it will give you plenty of blue/purple options.

The blue flowering types aren't more sun intolerant its just that the Hydrangea species that offer blue flowers aren't as sun tolerant especially out by you.

I do like Little Lime Hydrangea (but not blue!). It still has the dried flower heads on it as of today. Gives some nice winter interest.

Here is a link that might be useful: Purple and Blue Perennial Suggestions

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 5:01PM
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j0nd03

Alright... we have given up on hydrangea in this spot. I am open to any and all perennial suggestions as well as small shrubs. Does not necessarily have to be blue flowering now. That should open up the suggestions a bit.

Whaas - there are a many, many suggestions in your topic. I am going to sit down with the wife tonight after the little ones go to bed and check them out together.

Esh, I looked the native iris up. I think my description might have been a little deceiving. It is not extremely moist in this spot most of the time, just the few times I have to run the soaker hose in the summer/fall per year.

Chohio - thanks for the personal account. If nothing else, these might be better fit for a new bed...

We are going to make a new bed on the east side of the house that will include hydrangea as well as other stuff. I will make a new topic after I measure the dimensions and get a ph test.

John

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 7:54PM
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esh_ga

John - if you still want blue then Iris virginica would work - it doesn't HAVE to have wet, but it is ok with wet. Another idea might be Amsonia tabernaemontana, goes by the common name bluestar. The species Amsonia hubrichtii has good fall color. Mix that in with a little Scutellaria (skullcap) and you'd have blue flowers in summer as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bluestar

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 9:59PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

(this is arktrees' SO speaking)

I second the suggestion of the various types of Amsonia. Pine Ridge Gardens in London, AR offers four varieties, three of which are listed as Arkansas natives. They are really stunning in a group planting and you get more than one season of interest. Butterflies like them also, so you can get some "floating flowers" to boot. A little slow to establish but pretty easy to care for; just cut back in the early spring to make room for new growth.

I like the Siberian Iris option also, although most of the ones I am familiar have a short flowering season. The slender, grass-like foliage is very pretty for the rest of the summer even without the blooms, so not a total loss. I have a Siberian Iris called "Ceasar's Brother" mixed with some Louisiana Iris in a full west facing bed that isn't particularly wet and they both do great. I love the selections from Zydeco Louisiana Iris Garden in Metairie, LA. You can mix different selections together to get a variety of heights, bloom times, and colors. The Siberians and Louisianas are also much more resistant to the pests and diseases that can afflict the bearded iris and are very tolerant of soil conditions.

The Sea Holly, Eryngium x zabellii 'Big Blue', is pretty spectacular looking and might work as long as your spot isn't super wet or in heavy clay. I don't have any personal experience with this one, but it sure looks cool. Eryngium planum 'Blue Glitter' is similar one, but shorter.

Since you said it doesn't have to be blue, you might look at Garden Phlox, Phlox paniculata. Blooms from midsummer to frost, comes in a variety of colors and can be anywhere from 18" to 4' tall, fragrant and a butterfly magnet. Looks for the selections specifically resistant to powdery mildew, like "David", as they can be prone to it.

Hardy geranium, or Crane's Bill, can be nice if you want a low mounding type of plant. They are super easy, bloom profusely in late spring/early summer and then are a pretty pile of greenery until frost when the leaves sometimes turn burgundy before going dormant.

I am also always a big fan of butterfly bush, if you still want a shrub. They have pretty colors and a graceful arching shape, smell like lilacs, bloom from late spring until frost with deadheading, and it is easy to keep the size in control with pruning. We have a Buddleia davidii "Black Knight" on the south side of our house and I adore it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 11:25PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

John,
One thing to add from what my S.O. wrote that you might find of interest is American BeautyBerry Callicarpa americana. The flower is not the showy part of these plants, it is the very bright fruit of fall is where they shine. These plants can be pruned back as needed each year to keep them from overgrowing a spot. They are also native to our area.

Arktrees

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 12:15AM
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j0nd03

After looking at pics of the Amsonia in flower and fall and checking out Eryngium x zabellii 'Big Blue', my socks are halfway across the room!

I decided to go with Amsonia 'Blue Ice' and I am going to add some yellow, purple and pink native coneflowers in as well (Echinacea purpurea 'Baby Swan Pink' and Echinacea paradoxa) just to make esh happy ;) all from Pine Ridge.

I would have liked to add big blue but it is a little hard to come by.

Ark, we actually have beautyberry in the woods behind the house. I LOVE the look in the fall but can't sell the wife on something that doesn't flower in this space.

Thanks for all the input!

John

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 11:34AM
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j0nd03

Also, if anyone wishes to see a beautyberry understory forest, please visit Chamberlyne Country Club in Danville, AR. Literally it IS the groundcover throughout the woods. They also have MASSIVE q. phellos throughout the course and have the two largest q. pagoda I have ever seen both located next to each other in the fairway blocking a green. Very nice place they have down there.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 12:16PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

John,
No biggie on the Beauty Berry, just knew they look nice and were very tolerant, so wanted to make sure it was brought up.

Sounds like you have some good choices. The SO has E. paradoxa, and has been very happy with it. Also E. purpure of various sorts. One we have really liked was "Tiki Torch" as it is VERY intense in coloration.

One other thing has crossed my mind. Along you ditch/channel, you might look at the Louisiana Iris there. That's what she has done. Multiple varieties of different heights, colors, and flower times. Just a thought.

Arktrees

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 1:15PM
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j0nd03

Ok no more suggestions please ;) I just bought 2 Tiki Torch coneflower plants on amazon from Hirt's Gardens for a totally different bed to replace Physostegia virginiana 'Crystal Peak' that the gophers ate. Probably for the best. Give my wallet a break for a while, ok?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 2:00PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

LOL, Wasn't trying to hurt your wallet, just had a thought. :-P I bought the Louisiana Iris the SO has for her birthday a few years ago. Told her to go to Zydeco Louisiana Iris Garden and pick out what she wanted. She picked out a half a dozen, and they shipped in August a couple months after her b-day. I'm very lucky that she is easy to please like that. Of course being with me, easy to please is a basic requirement. LOL

Arktrees

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 2:44PM
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j0nd03

"Of course being with me, easy to please is a basic requirement" lol I'm sure that is the truth for many of us here, myself included

Holy moses, some of those irises are stunning at Zydeco! And of course the most outrageous blue one is $35 per :O Wife did find 3 others she really likes...

Can... not... afford... to dive... into perennials... yet.

You guys (Ark in particular) will have me landscaping the whole 7 acres!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 3:33PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Happy to be of service. What friends are for. Proud to say I'm doing my part to stimulate the economy. :-P

Arktrees

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 5:03PM
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esh_ga

Iris are easy to share among gardeners - easy to divide, tolerant of shipping.

The story of Louisiana iris is an interesting one. A hot hybrid mass of different species that have become their own series.

Here is a link that might be useful: History of Louisiana iris

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 5:24PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

(arktree's SO again)

Some of my Louisiana's may need dividing by next fall, if you are interested. What I have from Zydeco is Sinfonietta (much brighter than the catalog pic), Black Gamecock, Cherry Cup, Southdowns, and a couple of other red ones that I can't recall the names of. Oh, and one called Jack Attack from another source.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 11:01PM
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j0nd03

Sorry, I missed this post.

Arktrees SO, when/if you divide just let me know and I will locate where I can put whatever you can discard.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 1:33PM
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suel41452

I have been absolutely amazed how well my "Endless Summer" blue hydrangea has done in full sun, heat & drought here in Roanoke, VA where the summer's have been brutally hot & dry for the last few years, records were set!
Probably because I planted it in half-shade for the first few yrs. it was slow to "get going" & took 3-4 yrs. to get a bloom. Moved it to full sun, and frankly fully expected it to croak because I never watered it. It thrived!!! And now at @ 2 ft. it blooms very well! I really love it now! I don't think they get over 4 ft.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 11:03AM
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