Annuals or Shrubs? - Knowledgebase Question

Chicago, Il
Question by julesy
May 29, 2008
I manage a condo building in a busy area of Chicago. In front of the building is a 3 foot by 3 foot cement brick planter probably about three 3 feet deep as well. Last year I planted some annuals and it actually looked kind of wimpy next to the grand building. They also only get partial if any sunlight. This year I was wondering if it would be easier for me to just plant a shrub. Could you suggest one (possibly one that's colorful)? I really do not have a green thumb, and I'd like NOT to do this again next year.

Also what I would have to do to the dry soil that is currently in the planter before adding the shrub?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Julie Hernandez
Chicago, IL

Answer from NGA
May 29, 2008


I'd plant a shrub in the planter. Start by loosening the soil and adding a bag of compost, digging it in to a depth of 8-10". Then thoroughly water the planter to make sure the soil is moist before planting. After planting you'll need only to water once a week. Here are a few suggestions for medium sized shrubs:
Compact European Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum opulus 'Compactum'); very adaptable to sun or shade; flowers in spring; grows 4-6' tall.

Carolina Allspice (Calycanthus floridus), same as above except can reach 8'.

Glossy Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), same as above.

I mention these three shrubs because they are very adaptable and very hardy so you won't have much maintenance.

Best wishes with your planter!

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