Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Native Shrubs That are Generally Pest and Disease Free

There are great native gardening shrubs that work well in a landscape and are low maintenance. These shrubs typically take less water because of being native to the area. Also, these shrubs have a very low instance of pests or disease, making them truly low maintenance.

Rhododendron prinophyllum
Common Name: Early Azalea, Roseshell Azalea, Woolly Azalea
Synonyms: Rhododendron roseum
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This multi-stemmed azalea shrub grows 6 to 12 feet high and 6 to 12 feet wide. With light pink or purple flowers in clusters from May through June. Leaves are blue-green and smooth, turning purple in the fall.
Planting Guide: Rhododendron prinophyllum prefers shade and moist well-drained soil nearly neutral in pH.
Propagation: Early azalea is propagated by seed. Seed will need to be mixed with sphagnum moss and germinate under plastic over a 2:1 mixture of perlite to peat moss.
History: This is a very hardy azalea and can tolerate high pH soils.
Warnings: The instance of pests or disease is rare for this particular azalea.
Distribution: Rhododendron prinophyllum is found in AL, AR, CT, GA, IL, KY, ME, MD, MA, MO, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, TN, TX, VT, VA and WV.

Rhus copallinum
Common Name: Winged Sumac, Shining Sumac, Flameleaf Sumac
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 20 to 35 feet high, this large shrub can also be a small tree. Leaves are glossy and dark green, turning red-purple in the fall. Flowers are yellow-green and have a bloom season of July and August.  There is a dark red drupe for the fruit. These drupe clusters will stay through winter.
Planting Guide: Rhus copallinum prefers sunny locations and dry rocky soils.
Propagation: Winged sumac is propagated by division, semi-hardwood cuttings, and seed. Seed will need acid scarification for 60 to 120 minutes and then planted under an inch deep. Cuttings should be in fall or summer to root.
History: It is a source of winter food for many birds and small animals.
            The fruit can be made into a lemonade-type beverage.
Warnings: This is a relatively disease free plant.
Distribution: Rhus copallinum is found in AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, WV, WI and DC.

Fallugia paradoxa
Common Name: Apache Plume, Ponil
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This many branched shrub grows 2 to 6 feet high with gray-white branches. Leaves are yellow-green and deciduous with white flowers that look like apple blossoms. Plumes of pink are the fruit. It is a slender plant. Bloom season is from May through December.
Planting Guide: Fallugia paradoxa should be planted in partial shade and dry sandy soils. It is both cold and heat tolerant.
Propagation: Apache Plume is propagated by seed, sucker division, and layering. Seed should be sown fresh or, if dried, will need stratification for 30 days in cold temperatures.
History: Makes a good forage plant for animals and also is used as a nesting site.
            It has been an herbal remedy by making a tea for indigestion or boiling roots for coughs. Leaves steeped and used as a rinse was a hair growth remedy once as well.
Warnings: This has a low instance of pests or disease.         
Distribution: Fallugia paradoxa is found in AZ, CA, CO, NV, NM, OK, TX and UT.


Acacia constricta
Common Name: Whitethorn Acacia, Mescat Acacia, Mescat Wattle, Whitethorn
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Whitethorn acacia grows 9 to 15 feet high in a multi-trunk form. Leaves are segmented and green and will be deciduous in the dry months. Flowers are small and fragrant, either white, yellow or orange. Red beans will grow 2 to 4 inches long. Bloom season is between May and August. Stems will have a reddish color on the young growth.
Planting Guide: Acacia constricta prefers dry soils and sunny conditions. It is fine in sand, loam, or limestone soil.
Propagation: Whitethorn acacia is propagated by seed or by root division. Seed should be untreated when sown. Collect when seeds are firm and dark brown, in late summer or fall.
History: This is a natural attractor of butterflies and birds thanks to the nectar and the seeds it produces.
Warnings: There are no known issues with this shrub.
Distribution: Acacia constricta is found in AZ, MD, NM, TX and VA.

These four shrubs can work in many situations where a flowering shrub, native to the United States, can add a bit of color and texture to the landscape. Always check your soil type and pH before planting any garden plant to make sure that it will complement the land and not fight with it.

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