tennesse drought resistent plants

My yard, which was never in great form, is a complete disaster with this extended dry hot weather. I'm in Nashville, TN, Zone 7, clay soil with cruddy subdivision fill dirt over it, and the other areas limestone with cruddy subdivision fill dirt. Azaleas do poorly for me, even when not stressed by so much dry, and I've given up on most of my azaleas. For a partly shady area, (foundation planting), who's got suggestions for something that is more likely to survive abuse, like something a bit more native? Up to 3 feet tall would be fine, as the height difference between the azaleas and the mountain laurels looks a little silly. For the record, my crape myrtles, despite being wacked by our hard late spring frost, are doing great, without any watering (sunnier area), and the mountain laurels (same area as the azaleas) are also doing well, although I have watered them a bit recently.
Next and last question - I have some oakleaf hydrangeas by the side of the house (even shadier area) that are always abused from lack of water (much more inconvient location to water), so they are scraggly and poorly filled out. I want to keep them however, as they look so nice when doing well. When should I prune them to encourage a bushier growth? If it started to rain soon, would it be awful to prune them then, because we will have lots more warm weather to follow?
Thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Azaleas are not native to TN. They do much better near the coast east. They need a damp acid soil to thrive. TN has a dry alkaline soil. It takes a lot of work to keep them alive in TN. They're not worth the effort and expense.
For a partly shady area, (foundation planting), who's

I have various hollies doing well in partial shade. If your soil is really poor you'll have to amend it if you want anything to do well.

Are you fertilizing these plants? Soil amendment would also work wonders. Also, use soaker hoses.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Manelli Family wrote:

I wouldn't generalize too much about TN soil. It is a pretty large state and there are a lot of different conditions. For example one need only walk through some areas in GSMNP where the trail is a tunnel through massive rhododendrons for miles on end to estimate how well rhodies and azaleas grow. My soil locally is relatively acidic. Dry is another matter -- this year we are _very_ dry but that is not an entirely normal state of affairs.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yes,... perhaps in the mountains in the Eastern part of the state. Nashville is as you know the in the middle of the state. Our soil in this region is dry heavy sticky gladeville clay, and alkaline. It's not very fertile. It's sits over limestone. Rhodies and Azaleas suffer from chlorosis here and desiccation in the summer. If you want these mountain plants to grow and thrive here you have to add sulfur, sand, compost and peat moss to the heavy clay soil to make it permeable and acidic... and water, water and water some more. It's not worth the effort here in middle TN. I have one old azalia left and when it goes that's it.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I agree about the azaleas, the reason I'll leave the last few in is because . . . they aren't dead yet. But to be more specific to my original question, what flowering low-lying shrub would be good to fill in the other spots?
mwright

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Well, there are other forms of Hydrangea that would probably work although most of them really want moisture and fair-to-good soil. Since Hydrangeas bloom on new wood pruning in Autumn or Winter or even very early Spring is fine. I've pruned back overgrown Hydrangeas (unknown variety but transplanted from my family's PA homestead and very old) back to ground level in Winter and within a few years they were back to 3 feet tall and blooming beautifully.
There are a number of native plants which might work in your situation although they might not qualify as "shrubs". For reference, you might look at http://www.sunlightgardens.com which is a grower of native plants a few miles up the road from me. They specialize in natives of the eastern US and you can probably get some ideas there.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

One which is likes shade or morning sun (according to one of my books) is oak-leaf hydrangea: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=HYQU3 Native to southern TN and south, but sometimes grown in cultivation north of there.
Someone also suggested Callicarpa americana. That's a pretty plant (well, based on the photos; we don't have one yet). http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol AM2 Native range is similar (southern TN and south), although not quite identical. In cooler climates (zone 6 or so) it will die back to the ground in winter, but come back from roots. Comes back quickly after pruning. Drought tolerance is not clear from my books but I'm guessing it would come back pretty well after most kinds of trauma.
I don't know, these are just a few possibilities among many.

That looks like a great place to browse.
Not everything in their catalog is native, but most are. And for the most part they are pretty good at telling you where the plant is from.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It's really quite an adaptable species... prefers neutral to slightly alkaline pH, loam or fairly well drained clay, does best in dryish soils though it'll put up with moist but not waterlogged, drought-tolerant once established, blooms on new growth. Sun to partial shade. Pretty good wildlife plant, too.
Maybe not quite as easy to grow as dandelions, but close. <g>
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
First, the biggest problem during drought is over watering. Just moisten soil enough to provide water to the absorbing, non-woody roots which are in the upper four inches of soil.
Proper mulching can help you with water. If you are interested in information on nurse logs which have the potential to become water reservoirs please let me know. Proper mulching: Mulching - http://home.ccil.org/~treeman/sub3.html and http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/M/ Look up "Mulch"
Your question about pruning is a good one. You could prune them after the flowering. It would be wise to prune to the proper targets. Then there are two times when small mistakes can make serious problems. When the leaves are forming (flushing) or when the leaves are falling. proper pruning site. If I get a chance I will prune a hydrangea and add it to the web site. http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/tree_pruning
Further, no time is a good time to improperly prune.
--
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

About the only thing I can think of offhand is Callicarpa americana, beautybush, though it'll grow more than 3 ft over time. Not difficult to prune, though.
Peonies might work for you, too, but they're not natives.
Remember, even drought-resistant plants need to be watered until they're well established.
However, if your clay is expansive, you might be better off putting in drip irrigation around the foundation, to keep the soil (and your slab or basement) from heaving with changes in soil water content. This is pretty commonly done in Texas, but I have no idea if it's a good idea in your part of the world or not.
A commercial site that talks about this: http://www.foundationwatering.com/canwesolve.aspx
Your soils extension folks and/or the civil engineering folks should be able to tell you if this is something needed in your area.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 19 Aug 2007 00:04:15 -0000, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Crepe myrtles will take almost any level of abuse short of a Ford F350. Azaleas, not so much. Your soil doesn't sound very azalea-ish. One shrub I can think of that would fit your criteria, and needs very little care, is nandina. There are dwarf and low-but-not-quite-dwarf varieties. Perennial grasses could be mixed in. Vitex would also work, I think. I'm in Mississippi, so I'm a little hotter and about as dry this summer. These things work here. Also, mulch is your friend. 3-4" of pine bark mulch, or pine straw, can make a big difference.
Harry
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Aug 24, 6:42 pm, Harry Boswell <hboswell_AT_kudzufiles.com> wrote:

Good post Harry. These are all good suggestions. They all do very well in Northern CAlifornia, where summers are _always_ hot and dry. Mulch is indeed very necessary. Emilie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.