The Q&A Archives: What to plant

Question: We live at 4900 feet elevation. During winter months, we do have temps at or below zero but not often, however, we do have considerable winds, even in the summer months. Our summer temps are usually in the mid-70s from mid-June to mid-Aug. We continue to have winds in the summer months. Any suggestions for shrubrey and perennials that would do good in this environment? Also, what is best for flower boxes and hanging baskets. We have a southern exposure for most of our yard.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Jessica McGee

Answer: Plants that are wind tolerant usually have flexible, strong branches that are not brittle. Wind tolerant plants often have thick or waxy leaves that control moisture loss from whipping winds. Native plants are often the best adapted to not only wind, but also soil and other climatic conditions.

In addition to using native plants, here are a few more wind tolerant plants:
Escallonia These evergreen shrubs are commonly seen in coastal areas, where they are often used as hedging. To bloom profusely they need fertile soil and full sun.

Olearia (daisy bush) These evergreen shrubs are covered with daisy-like flowers in summer. They enjoy well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Some types, for example O. macrodonta, make good hedges.

Tamarix This deciduous tree bears sprays of star-shaped flowers in summer. Particularly good in exposed coastal locations, they withstand strong winds.

Fagus sylvatica (beech) This deciduous tree has oval, wavy-edged leaves, which are pale green when young, then dark green in summer, and finally orange-brown in autumn. Clipped hedges retain their dead leaves throughout the winter.

Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) This deciduous, spreading tree bears fragrant white flowers in spring. These are followed by red fruit which turns black in autumn.

Agapanthus. Some (not all) are hardy. Look for locally grown plants.

Cistus. Rockroses are borderline plants in your area.

Echium fastuosum. Pride of Madeira is tender, but worth having in the garden, even if you must replant every year.

Fuchsia. (annuals) Small-flowered varieties are hardiest in wind.

Hemerocallis. Daylily.

Kniphofia (Tritoma). Red-hot poker.

Lantana. Use these as summer bedding plants.

Pelargonium. Common and ivy geraniums and Lady Washington pelargonium need winter protection. Store plants in basement or take cuttings.

Rosa. One rose, the fiery scarlet 'Sarabande', has proven to be outstanding in cold, damp wind. 'Sarakbande' is a low- growing floribunda with a heavy crop of semidouble flowers.

Tulbaghia violacea. Society garlic. Tender Annuals or short-lived perennials

Agrjostemma githago. The corn cockle is an unusual annual, easy to grow form seeds. From 1 to 3 feet tall, it has long-stemmed, cup-shaped lavender to purple flowers with deeper-colored veins. The variety 'Milas' has flowers to 3 inches across that are fine for cutting. Despite frail looks, it stands up well to wind.

Hope these suggestions are helpful!

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