Flowering Bushes or Shrubs - Knowledgebase Question

Wayne, NJ
Question by margeminn
February 13, 2006
We have to redesign our backyard due to some renovation.
We are looking for some LOW bushes or shrubs some flowering...pretty much care free and will stay green during the winter months. We are in zone 6 with part sun about 4 hours. Right now we have perennial plants but die back in winter and the yard looks bare. We would like
the yard to look good all year round if we can.

Any suggestions..
Thank you for your time.

Answer from NGA
February 13, 2006


There are far more nonflowering evergreens than flowering, so you may want to consider using these along with deciduous shrubs (possibly with berries or colorful bark for winter interest) and if you wish, perennials for summer color. This would broaden your possible choices to include evergreens such as junipers, yews, and many dwarf conifers. Many of these are slow growing and relatively low maintenance. No plant will be completely care-free however, and all will need care and watering during their first year while they become established.

Unfortunately you did not mention at what time of day the sun hits your planting site. Morning sun is fine for most flowering evergreens such as azaleas or rhododendrons, but afternoon-only sun is very harsh and not ideal for these broad leafed plants. You might be able to grow Pieris, another spring bloomer, in some afternoon sun depending on your soil conditions and whether or not the plants will be up against a building -- winter sun and heat reflecting off a building on the west side is not the best location for most evergreens.

I should mention that your zip code places you in zone 6A, the coldest part of zone 6. Depending on the microclimate where you are planting, it may actually be as cold as zone 5. Wind is extremely stressful on evergreens, so you will need to keep that in mind as well.

It is very difficult to make specific plant suggestions long distance. I would suggest you work with your local county extension and/or professionally trained nursery staff to analyze the growing conditions where you want to plant (sun exposure, wind, soil type, soil moisture, space available) and identfy shrubs that would thrive there, then select the ones you like best from those. They should be able to make more detailed suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of your site and your overall design goals. You might want to do this type of research now before the spring planting season arrives and they become terribly busy. Good luck with your project!

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