A new year... a new planting season just ahead... and some new plant
ideas to bestow a fresh new look to your landscape.
At this time of year, we find ourselves seeking out things that are new
and different. Several readers have contacted me at
firstname.lastname@example.org and asked for plant suggestions that are a little
out of the ordinary. Today, I'll include a few of the suggestions
that I sent to those readers.
What is "new and different" to one person is "been there, planted
that" to another, but I hope that one or two of these will turn on a
cartoon light bulb over your head!
Tennessee White Iris
This is quite an unusual plant. It is an almost iridescent white
crested Iris that was discovered in a patch of regular Iris cristata
Alba and singled out for cultivation. The Tennessee White has a fast
growth rate, is hardy in zones 3 to 9 and can be planted in full sun,
partial sun or shade.
When planting, bear in mind the scale of surrounding plants as the
Tennessee White Iris will only reach a height of 10" to 12" with a
spread of about 12" at maturity. At the end of the season, you can take
them up and divide them for a larger display next season. They are not
easy to find but well worth the effort if you want something unusual
and quite spectacular. Send me an e-mail if you need some shopping
If you like the sight (and sound) of hummingbirds, the Pink Weigela
acts like a hummingbird magnet when in full bloom. This is certainly
not a "new" flowering shrub, but is being re-discovered by
landscapers in many parts of the country. Cheryl and I have planted
several and they are consistently covered in blooms through the spring
and even re-bloom in the summer.
Leave them alone and they can reach 10 ft high and spread to 10 ft
wide. However, when kept trimmed, a row of Pink Weigela make a
delightfully colorful privacy hedge. They're quite fast growing and
do fine in zones 3 to 9 in full or partial sun or shade.
Plant Fothergilla Hamamelidaceae and you'll have an interesting
reminder of early American history. This shrub was named after Dr. John
Fothergill, a friend of Benjamin Franklin and a supporter of the
Colonial cause in England in the 18th century where he specialized in
growing American plants.
When in bloom, the Fothergilla's dense, spiky white stamens resemble
a bottle brush. In spring, the foliage ranges from blue-green to deep
green and in fall, you're treated to colors that range from yellow to
orange to scarlet.
The Fothergilla is best suited to zones 4 - 8 and prefers acid,
well-drained, moist soil. At maturity, you'll see heights ranging
from 3 ft to 6 ft.
I am often asked about trees that are suitable for screening, so
here's one you might consider. The Eldarica matures to that familiar
"Christmas tree" conical shape and can reach heights of 25 ft to 50
ft or more, with a spread of 25 ft to 40 ft.
It has a pleasant, fresh fragrance and is tolerant of marginal soils
and tough climates in zones 3 to 9. It will do fine in hot, dry
climates as well as colder climates and is drought, heat and wind
tolerant once established.
And lastly, a tree that would be better planted in the Southwest, as
the name implies. This fairly fast-growing cypress will top out at
around 35 ft with a spread up to 20 ft and displays dense sprays of
bright blue-green foliage. This tree is ideal for planting in zones 7,
8 and 9 where it will tolerate hot, dry conditions.
So there you have it. A few suggestions, some of which might be
familiar and some might be new to you. As always, I'm happy to
provide more information or maybe come up with some specific
recommendations that suit your particular needs when you send me an
The Plant Man is here to help. Send questions about trees, shrubs and
landscaping to email@example.com For resources and additional
information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, go