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Flowering and fruiting native plants add beauty, vigor to tired garden

Discussion in 'Nature/Habitat/Garden Corner' started by OSimpson, Sep 11, 2016.

  1. OSimpson

    OSimpson Certified Master Naturalist

    Sep 24, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Flowering and fruiting native plants add beauty, vigor to tired garden
    Daily Press

    For years, I fought the urge to plant shrubs, trees and perennials in late spring to early summer.

    Even though garden centers lush with new varieties tempted me, I decided planting anything after March was doomed to die, given our increasingly hot and dry summers.

    This summer's record temperatures and dry conditions reinforce that feeling.

    Trees, shrubs and perennials planted now through late October still have warm soil and good growing conditions for root establishment. Winter's rain and spring's mild temperatures give them even more chance of surviving next summer's heat.

    I've also turned my attention to mostly native species in my garden. Gardeners at the Virginia Living Museum agree that native plants are the best choices because they have weathered the good, the bad and the ugly. They also provide food and shelter for local wildlife, especially bees, butterflies and birds. You also will find native varieties among plants featured at sales sponsored by groups such as the Peninsula Master Gardeners.

    The living museum's plant sale happens Sept. 17-18 and Sept. 24-25. Hampton Master Gardeners sponsor one Sept. 17; York/Poquoson Master Gardeners stage one Sept. 24.

    Must-have native plants

    Here are five native plants that will be among the many for sale at the Virginia Living Museum's fall plant sale Sept. 17-18 and Sept. 24-25:

    Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana

    Bloom time: June-July, August-October.

    Description: Pale lavender flowers, and hot raspberry pink fruit clusters that persist after the leaves fall; grows five feet tall.

    Needs: Sun to part shade, and average to poor, well-drained, medium-wet soil.

    Care: Flowers and fruit form on new growth, so cut back every few years after the fruit is gone to maintain size and good fruit set.

    Wildlife benefits: Birds, catbirds and mockingbirds especially.

    Eastern smooth beardtongue, Penstemon laevigatus

    Bloom time: May-July.

    Description: Large tubular, pale purple to almost white snapdragon-like flowers; grows one to almost four feet tall.

    Needs: Sun to shade and rich-average, well-drained/medium soil. Easy grower, even in poor soils. Spreads by seeds, so remove seed heads to prevent reseeding.

    Wildlife benefits: Butterflies and hummingbirds.

    Winged monkeyflower, Mimulus alatus.

    Bloom time: July-September.

    Description: One-inch pink-purple tubular flowers with yellow throats; grows one to three feet tall.

    Needs: Part sun and average/medium-wet soil. Will grow in areas that flood.

    Wildlife benefits: Butterflies, bumble bees; host plant for buckeye caterpillars, Chalcedony midgets, Baltimore butterflies.

    Late-blooming boneset Eupatorium serotinum

    Bloom time: August-November.

    Description: Tiny white flowers in fuzzy clusters; grows one to three feet tall. Deer resistant.

    Needs: Part shade, and moist sandy or clay soil.

    Wildlife benefit: Butterflies and birds.

    Green coneflower Rudbeckia laciniata

    Bloom time: July-September.

    Description: Large yellow daisy with domed green center; grows two to six feet tall.

    Needs: Sun-shade, and average, well-drained/medium soil. Grows tall in sun, shorter in shade. Cut back halfway before buds form to get shorter, bushier plants. Spreads by seed.

    Wildlife benefits: Butterflies and goldfinches.

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