April Plant of the Month: Blue Mist Shrub
Be prepared for a wave of blue flowers throughout mid-summer and into the fall when you plant this easy to grow shrub, or sometimes referred to as woody perennial, in your garden. It makes for a most excellent border, low hedge or accent plant. It’s compact, low maintenance, drought-resistant and deer resistant!
Butterflies go crazy for this plant’s showy flowers and soft silvery foliage, as do hummingbirds. It is a fast-growing, a repeat bloomer and an overall WINNER in the garden.
It works well planted in well-drained soil with a sunny location and definitely requires pruning in late winter to maintain shape and guarantee to bloom (particularly after a harsh NJ winter like the one we just had).
Its growing habit is generally 2’ high by 3’ in width (depending on the variety you choose) and is hardy from zones 5-9.
May Plant of the Month: Raspberry Shortcake- A Thornless Dwarf Raspberry
A wonderful new raspberry variety from the Brazel Berrie company that you can plant in a container (therefore preventing it from spreading and taking over your entire garden), it puts forth an immense amount of mid-summer fruit, has a wonderful mounded shape and looks fantastic cascading out of your favorite pot.
It has a medium-sized berry, which children will love picking because there are no thorns and sweet vanilla essence. Hardy in zones 5-9 and because of its shape no staking or trellising is necessary.
July Plant of the Month – Alice Du Pont Mandevilla
Mandevilla Alice Dupont is a fast-growing tropical vine with an abundance of bright pink, trumpet-shaped flowers. Easy to grow and maintain.
Ideally suited as a focal point in a planter or on a trellis or railing and happy to be exposed to the full sun around a pool or patio.
The soil needs to by moist but not wet and be sure to remove spent blooms to encourage new growth. They do love to spread so trim to keep control of the plants wandering nature.
In New Jersey, these are definitely considered an annual and they will not survive frost or freezing conditions but what a stunning addition to any backyard placement!
August Plant of the Month – Franklinia Altamaha Tree
Franklinia Altamaha, commonly called the Franklin Tree, was discovered growing along the banks of the Altamaha River in Georgia in 1765 by Philadelphia botanists John and William Bartram.
William returned to the river in Georgia in 1777 and collected seeds that he was eventually able to propagate and have to produce flowering trees in 1781; all Franklinia trees known to exist today are descended from these seeds collected in 1777 and are named after John Bartram’s good friend Benjamin Franklin. The tree has been extinct in the wild since the early 19th century.
It is a beautiful somewhat small tree (growing 15-20’ tall and 10’15’ wide) with large creamy white blooms that do not appear until late summer or early fall. It puts on a show of orange and deep red leaves in the fall. It is slow-growing and tolerates many variations of sun and shade.
It does not like to have its roots disturbed so transplanting an established tree is not advised, but once it is happily established in well-drained acidic soil that is enhanced with plenty of organic material it will provide many years of landscape pleasure.
September Plant of the Month: Iceplant- Putting on a show in late fall!
An exceptional drought tolerant, sun loving perennial ground cover plant, that even though it is small in stature, typically 4-6 inches off the ground, the blooming capacity is wonderful and perpetual running from early spring up until fall frost. It can thrive in the poorest of conditions as long as there is plenty of sun and good soil drainage.
Perfect in a mass planting beside a hot pool patio, driveway or a bare spot that never seems to allow something else to grow; stunning when used on a slope or bank and useful for anchoring soil and avoiding erosion. The flowers are incredible! They are richly colored and the foliage is plump and attractive. It is a good idea to pamper the plants the first year but then just let it go wild! Most varieties are hardy in zones 4-10.
October Plant of the Month: Virginia Sweetspire- Itea Virginica, “Henry’s Garnet”
Virginia Sweetspire is indigenous to eastern North America and can be grown in zones 5-9. Grow Virginia Sweetspire shrubs in full sun to partial shade and in a soil amended with peat moss to encourage good soil drainage.
Superior flowering, compactness and fall color will be achieved in full sun. Because of its dense mass of leaves they work perfectly in a shrub border or foundation planting. Because of its extensive root system it is very well suited to planting areas where soil erosion is trying to be avoided.
Prune back any dead wood in the spring but be sure to leave “old” wood as it is essential for spring bloom. Although it has mildly fragrant flowers in the spring this hardy shrub is most valued for its outstanding fall color.
November Plant of the Month – Christmas Cactus
The Christmas Cactus is a popular houseplant that puts on quite a show! It is a succulent plant that originally came from the jungles in South America growing prolifically on trees and rocks and thriving in the humid environment.
They prefer diffused or low light, which is low maintenance and drought tolerant because they prefer to dry out completely between watering. When the buds are set to be sure to keep your plant protected from cold drafts by placing it somewhere protected. This will avoid the buds from dropping off and you losing your long-awaited bloom cycle. After the holiday season, when all the blooms are spent, let the plant rest for a month or so and then prune away all the faded blooms to encourage new growth.
December Plant of the Month: The Classic Holly
Evergreen Hollies are available in many varieties, in fact, there are more than 400 species available and they are so versatile that they most likely will survive in any part of your landscape. Some have specific soil requirements so check on that before you purchase, but they all love acidic soil and are favored for their drought tolerance. They are hardy in zones 2-12 and can be used in so many ways to accent your property.
Whether you need an attractive border or hedge, symmetrical presence in a foundation planting or just enjoy the colorful red berries against a winter backdrop the Holly can do it all.
One note on those red berries, be sure to purchase a male and female plant to insure an abundant show of color and then sit back and watch as the birds in your yard enjoy the food and the shelter from winter snow.