Planting Taller Shrubs behind Shorter Ones

prairiegirlz5May 23, 2010

I need the voice of experience please. I know that a plant's growth habit is a range of heights (like 4-6') and widths.

Here's the problem. I want to plant clethras behind hydrangeas. Will the clethra be taller, as desired?

I have one Ruby Spice and another that was labeled RS but turned out to be white! The spot I have for them is in part to full shade. It is close to the hose, which drips when I water, so they should get plenty of extra water. Would you add a third cultivar? If so, which one?

I want to plant these behind an existing hedge (three plants) of Neon Flash spirea. These will be replaced eventually with hydrangeas, hopefully in a similar size, like Annabelles, or a dwarf, like Dharuma. Any suggestions?


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ademink(z5a-5b Indianapolis)

The hydrangeas will be taller than the clethra, in my experience.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 4:20PM
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Thanks ademink, that's what I needed to know!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 5:33PM
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Clethra can get tall in wild situations (I've seen 7 or 8 feet) usually when they are in a wet shady area. In a landscape situation they usually don't get that tall. Also if you're in zone 5 you may get tip dieback every year which could limit their height.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 10:57AM
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thanks jimmy~I'm going to keep the spirea there for now, they get just enough sun to flower once. I may put Ruby Spice off in the corner. It does get tip dieback, and chlorosis, and is not my favorite shrub right now. Eventually, I'll replace the spirea with hydrangeas, or something taller. Possibly layering a couple of shrubs, any suggestions for mostly shade with alkaline, clay soils?

I wonder if I prune the clethra down hard if it will get fuller at the bottom? I think if I could get it to grow low and spread out, that would work for me too. I just want every inch of ground covered.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 5:42PM
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I had another brainstorm. If I leave the spirea for now, would viburnum Summer Snowflake look good as a background shrub? Several sources I have consulted say this shrub will be 6-8 feet H x W, all the way up to 10 x 5 feet. They're about the same height as the spirea now.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 10:27AM
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