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  • Early Blooms Get the Party Started!

    Many of the early blooming shrubs at Shrub Source are newer varieties of old favorites. Flowering quince, lilacs, azaleas, and forsythias factor into many a childhood memory. These are some of the first shrubs to bloom after a long winter. They welcome spring, indoors as forced branches and outdoors when they burst into color. These shrubs have the flowers that serve as centerpieces for Mother’s Day celebrations and graduation parties.

    If your garden doesn’t kick into gear until June, chances are good that you need a few early flowering shrubs to extend the season. Here are some of our favorites.

    Fantastically Fragrant

    Viburnum Spice Ball

    In warmer areas, Spice Ball Viburnum blooms as early as mid to late March. This is a specimen shrub to plant near your front door or back porch so that you can enjoy the wonderful scent of the flowers when it is in bloom.

    Unusual Beauty

    Calycanthus

    Calycanthus is a lesser-grown shrub, but one that everyone should make some room for, if possible. Dark burgundy flowers appear in greatest numbers during the spring, but the shrub will sporadically re-bloom throughout the summer. When not in bloom, glossy green leaves serve as an excellent foundation, screening, or backdrop plant in the landscape.

    Spring Cheer

    A few of the early bloomers are excellent for forcing. You can cut branches from these shrubs in February and bring them inside to put on a spectacular floral display long before the snow melts outside.

    Two of our favorites are forsythia and flowering quince.

    Older varieties of forsythia were huge and rangy, but newer varieties, such as Show Off™ Starlet are more compact growers. This one is also absolutely covered in blooms each spring.

    Forsythia Show Off Starlet

    Double Take™ Pink Storm Flowering Quince always gets lots of appreciative glances when it shows off hundreds of rose-like blooms when everything else in the landscape is still deep in winter slumber. Plus, the Double Take™ series are thorn-less. It cannot get any better than this.

    Double Take Pink Flowering Quince

    Don’t Forget Roses!

    Oso Easy Italian Ice RoseWe are big fans of the Oso Easy™ roses for their, you guessed it, easy care attributes. These are some of the latest of the early bloomers, but they fill the gap nicely between extreme earlybirds such as forsythia and the summer blooming hydrangeas and crape myrtles. These roses will also re-bloom throughout the summer. For unusual color in the garden, plant Oso Easy™ Italian Ice (pictured, yellow center with pink blushing petals), Oso Easy™ Cherry Pie (bright pink single flowers), and Oso Easy™ Paprika—with bright orange blooms.

     Maintenance Considerations

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    Most of these plants are fairly low-maintenance, but timing on what little maintenance that's required is crucial. Here are some tips to keep early-flowering shrubs looking great!

    • Prune right after the plants are finished flowering in the spring. Early bloomers set flower buds for next year during the summer. If you prune them hard in late summer, you'll cut off all of the flowers. If you make no other change to your gardening habits, MAKE THIS CHANGE!
    • Fertilize after blooming. Most of the spring flowering shrubs will push new growth immediately after flowering. (Pruning can make this new growth bushier and fuller.) Fertilize shrubs with the proper fertilizer at the same time that you prune. (Azaleas, rhododendrons, and hollies all benefit from Holly-tone or holly fertilizers.)
    • Water shrubs after pruning. Whenever you do something that could stress a plant or require it to use more reserves than usual, it's a good idea to water it. (That is, unless you're having higher than usual rainfall.) So, after pruning and fertilizing, make sure to water!

    Following these tips will help you keep your early bloomers looking gorgeous!

  • Evergreens: Never-Ending Beauty

    ilex_berry_poppins If this winter has helped you realize nothing else, it’s that a few evergreens can go a long way in the garden. While the rest of the garden is barren and covered with snow, evergreens provide a respite for your eyes and a promise that everything else will, eventually leaf out.

    There are more reasons to plant evergreens beyond the fact that they have color when nothing else does. Here are some reasons why you’re going to want to make room in the garden for some new plants this year.

    Welcoming Wildlife

    ilex_berry_heavy_gold

    Development and construction have eliminated much of the naturally existing cover that wildlife, from birds to mammals to reptiles, rely on. You can make a big difference in the health of wildlife populations by planting trees and shrubs in the garden. While some birds need taller trees for nesting, a lot of favorite songbirds derive more benefit from eye-level cover from shrubs. Birds that have access to shelter will fledge (raise to maturity) more chicks. So, it’s not just food (in the form of berries) that shrubs with winter interest can provide. These plants also provide a welcoming home.

    Enjoyment Indoors and Out

    “Winter interest” doesn’t have to mean green leaves. The berries on deciduous hollies such as Berry Heavy ®, Berry Heavy® Gold, Berry Nice®, or Berry Poppins® are beautiful, in part, because they are the stars of the show, with no leaves to distract from the bright color.

     

    basketPorch pot with Evergreens

    The red twigs of Cornus Arctic Fire ™ make stunning and statuesque arrangements without any other flowers. They can also serve as the structure for more elaborate creations.

    Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 4.29.45 PM

    You can use branches and twigs from these and other, evergreen, plants to make porch pots and floral arrangements all year long.

    Privacy and Screening

    Less exciting, but no less important is the important function evergreens have in creating natural privacy and screening. While putting up a fence is a faster way to block out your neighbors, a beautiful row of Thujas is nicer to look at.

    When planting a privacy screen, it’s better to go for Evergreens than deciduous shrubs, even shrubs with dense canopies, because you’ll lose some of the screening benefits in the winter when the shrubs lose their leaves. American Piller Thuja is one of our favorite evergreen shrubs for screening.

    Thuja-American Pillar

    You can plant close together and hedge the plants or allow them to grow to their natural conical shape.

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