auntbump(7B)May 2, 2010

I've read the leucothoe messages and no one has mentioned their "runners" - long stolons I hear can invade nearby garden beds. I have a bare spot in front of a white picket fence, beneath the high shade of a linden. My nursery suggested leucothoe but I don't want the kind with stolons and they did not comment on that. No book I have, and no data on Internet mentions this but my garden helper, very knowledgeable, says non-stoloniferous ones do exist.

I'm not happy about the foliage on this plant because it looks just like pieris, several big old ones are a big feature of my garden and bloom at the same time with a similar small white flower. One writer on this forum regards leucothoe as "back of the border" plants - in my location they would be prominent and I don't want them to look ratty.

Any suggestions about what I could plant there? I want something with a winter presence that can take shade. Previously in this location or nearby I had old rhodies that got leggy probably reaching for the sun.

If I am asking too much of one plant - winter interest, evergreen, different leaf and some kind of blossom, I'll just give up and plant box or evergreen and fill in with some hostas, which love me.

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How about sarcococca? The winter interest is the fragrant flowers and this plant thrives even in rather heavy and dry shade. The shorter species, S. hookeriana var. humilis, does spread by stoloniferous stems but quite slowly and is very manageable. Not prone to the fungal problems often associated with leucothoe

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 9:47AM
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Thanks for the suggestion, gardengal. I looked up sarcocca.

I can't quite get the idea of its habit from the pictures on line and in my books, but it appears to be more ground cover and less of a definite shape. I need some structure there rather than a hedge look or a low-growing ground cover. I may have to invent a new plant.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 10:26AM
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Skimmia japonica. It's rather wide than tall in my location (2.5x4.5' after 6 years) because tips of the branches sometimes got sunburns in a spring, but beside that it's absolutely perfect shrub for substantial shade location.
You need to plant male and female for the winter berries, however if you are looking just for spring flowers males are the ones who make a show.
If you interested in a berries only you may plant S. reevesiana in a close proximity to female S. japonica and it will polinate it while being a very small (1x1-2') plant by itself.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 8:45PM
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Thank you Ego45. My neighbor also suggested skimmia. I appreciate the tips on gender planting; I will be doing a "menage a trois:" three of them.

Should it be one male and two females, or the other? I am interested in both flowers and berries.

One would hope my nursery knows the gender of its plant material, but is there any way I can tell? I have several nurseries I can visit in my quest, but the knowledge of the help is sometimes lacking (the other day a nursery worker said veronica and salvia were the same thing).

I am new to this forum and appreciate it very much; hope I am not hogging too much space. I have come recently to realize that I need shrubs to balance out my perennial and herb beds and to add structure and winter interest, so I am gradually learning about them. And you are all helping.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 9:29PM
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Skimmias are typically sold clearly labeled as to male or female plants. The exception would be Reeve's skimmia (Skimmia reevesiana) which is hermaphroditic and self-fertile.

It's a bit late now, but if the plants are not labeled as to sex, you can tell from the flowers. Male flowers are larger and showier than the female flowers. Since I am not a big berry person, I grow only the males as IMO, they are much more attractive than the female plants. Females now may be beginning to show some berry development......at least the swelling of the old flower remains that will result in berries.

Skimmias require constantly moist (not wet) soil and even shade. Too much sun and insufficient water will result in mite problems.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 9:54AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Sarcococca is more likely to pop up away from the main clump than Leucothoe. Older plantings may be full-fledged patches.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 11:14PM
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I agree with Ron on sarcococca assesement to be much more stoloniferous than a leucothoe.

Re: S.japonica F:M ratio, 2:1 or 3:2 will result in a heavy berry production, for S.japonica: S.reevesiana you need 1:1, or better 2:3, for the same results.
Re: identification of M and F s.japonica could be done fairly easy in a late fall or spring by looking for the berries (F) or large flower clusters (M). All other times (June-August), if not labeled, it's anybody guess, because nurseries might slightly prune/shear them for the better presentation, but you may look inside the shrub for the hint to see if any residual berries left from the previous season.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 3:07PM
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