more skinny plants - Knowledgebase Question

Flossmoor, Il
Question by teenadorn
February 11, 2010
Any other ideas on good plants to use as a fence besides evergreens and junipers. We already have so many of those in our yard. The area between the houses have a lot of shade and moisture in zone 6. Thanks.

Answer from NGA
February 11, 2010


How about Summersweet Clethra (Clethra alnifolia), offering fragrant flowers, attractive leaves and interesting form. Its upright growth reaching 3-8 feet tall makes it appropriate for narrow spaces such as next to home foundations or in perennial borders.

Summersweet's finest attributes are its shade tolerance and its late season, long lasting and fragrant flowers. The flowers of white, pink or rose appear when few other plants are blooming in July through August. It has few insect and disease problems but thrives best in moist acidic soils.

Some of Summersweet's notable cultivars include 'Hummingbird' with its 3-4 feet tall low mound and abundantly produced white flowers. 'Rosea' has glossy leaves and pink flowers.

Witch Alder, Fothergilla gardenii, is a slow growing shrub only reaching 2-3 feet tall with a compact mounded habit. Another shrub with year around appeal, fothergilla has fragrant flowers of cream colored bottlebrushes. It is also flowering now before the leaves appear. It has magnificent fall color of yellow, orange and crimson and will grow in sun or shade. Fothergilla works in nicely with rhododendrons or as a foundation plant. 'Blue Mist' is a very attractive cultivar with blue green leaves.

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)is another popular small shrub with fairly dense growth, suitable for hedges. Barberry has a mounded type growth habit, red fruit, and tolerates shade. The cultivar 'Atropurpea' features red summer foliage, but needs full sun. The cultivar 'Crimson Pygmy' also has red summer foliage, needs full sun, and only gets about two feet tall.

Alpine currant (Ribes alpinum)also makes an excellent hedge plant and is a good choice for many landscape situations. Alpine currant will grow in shade and has a rounded type growth habit.

Compact European Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum opulus)will grow in shade areas. The cultivar 'Compactum' has a rounded form and white flowers which produce persistent red fruit. The cultivar 'Nanum' is good for a small, informal hedge, with a globe-like form. Unlike other viburnums, it rarely flowers or produces fruit.

Hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens)are popular flowering shrubs that do well in shade. The cultivar 'Annabelle' has white, clustered flowers and dense, mounded growth reaching about 3 feet in height. The cultivar 'Grandiflora', or Snowhill hydrangea, has smaller flowers and is less dense than 'Annabelle'.

Best wishes with your landscape.

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