Shrubs are incredibly versatile for southern gardens. They provide flowers and can also serve as a living fence or wall. If you’re thinking of adding some to your garden this year, you should make sure to choose ones that are well-suited to our southern temperatures.
Growing up to seven feet wide, Blue Pacific Juniper makes an excellent ground covered. It’s famous for its blue-colored foliage and loves lots of direct sunlight. Keep in mind: this plant likes to stretch its arms, so give it plenty of room. Plus, it’s non-toxic to pets, and since it is a member of the evergreen family, you can expect to enjoy the lovely blue-greenness all year long. Once established, they are deficient maintenance. They like well-drained soil, which means they will tolerate drought far better than other plants. You should fertilize them just a few times a year, preferably in the spring and summer.
Famous for its pink star-shaped flowers, it will quickly fill in an area, so you may need to trim it back as part of your regular flower and bed maintenance. It can reach heights of 15 feet and widths of about 10 feet. If cared for properly, you can easily get 20 years out of each shrub. It likes full to partial shade and does well in dry conditions. It also is not fussy about the soil’s pH level, which means less worry and maintenance for you.
This large evergreen shrub is capable of reaching 20 to 25 feet in height and width. You’ll enjoy many small white blossoms that are incredibly fragrant from about October through March, which means if you plant this with a summer-blooming shrub, you can have a plant blooming all year long. Plants may thin out if they experience some shade and tend to grow denser when in direct sun. You can use this plant to make a natural fence or wall. It likes well-drained soil and is fairly drought tolerant once established in the lawn, but they prefer ample moisture if you can give it to them.
Originally from Japan, camellia is beloved for its fragrance. It grows rapidly and will easily reach 14 feet in height and about 7 feet wide. The plant requires full sun to partial shade and well-drained soils with a neutral to acidic pH. It will grow in clay, loam, or sandy soils and is slightly salt tolerant. Once established, it will tolerate drought. This camellia blooms during the late fall and winter over a period of four to six weeks. Camellia works well as a privacy hedge.
Gardenias are cold-sensitive, which is one reason they are a staple of southern gardens – we don’t have to worry about the cold! It likes partial shade and moist but well-drained, acidic soil with plenty of organic matter. Make sure to water gardenias regularly, and prune even after flowering has ceased to remove dead blooms. They don’t do well with salt accumulation so make sure not to over-fertilize your gardenias.
Azaleas are the divas of the garden and can be quite fussy about their environment. They prefer slightly acidic soil – 4.5 to 6.0 is ideal. If soil is closer to the alkaline end of the spectrum, azaleas won’t be able to absorb enough nutrients. Azaleas prefer cool, lightly shaded sites. Full sun, which we have in spades in the South, can actually burn the leaves. Conversely, too much shade can deprive them of oxygen, resulting in poor blooms and weaker growth. They dislike clay soil, so make sure to use plenty of rich organic matter when planting your azalea. They don’t grow deeply in the soil, but they spread out, so make sure to allot more horizontal space. For the first year of its life, your azalea will need about an inch of water a week, either from rain or manual watering.
This deciduous shrub provides a fun and quirky addition to your garden and one of the many excellent plants for attracting butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds! It reaches heights of up to 12 feet and widths about 8 feet. It grows easily in moist, humus soils in full sun to part shade. It’s tolerant of flood conditions and shallow standing water, which Louisiana may experience during hurricane season. It does not like dry soil, so if we experience a drought, make sure this plant doesn’t go thirsty. Pruning is usually not necessary but may be done in early spring to help it keep its shape. If the growth is extensive, don’t be afraid to cut back the plant to make it more manageable. It will rebound just fine!
The butterfly bush is a beautiful, fast-growing shrub that blooms from summer to autumn. It is considered an invasive species since it originates in China and will expand quickly to kill other plants. Therefore, if you’d like to add this to your garden, make sure to keep it trimmed and isolated from other plants. It comes in various colors, such as pinks, purples, and white. Also called “summer lilacs,” butterfly bushes are low-maintenance, only requiring dead-heading and annual pruning in later winter. Add compost to the soil when planting and dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant’s container. Make sure to water thoroughly and give it full sun. One last note on the butterfly bush: despite its name, it is not a host for butterflies to complete their life cycle. It will provide food for adult, nectar-eating butterflies, but if you want to support the local butterfly population, make sure to plant things like milkweed to support the caterpillars too!
Don’t let your prized shrubs take a beating from our southern summers. Let the experts at TruGreen Midsouth help! In addition to providing lawn care services and weed control, we also have a tree and shrub care program designed to help your ornamental plants thrive even in the hottest conditions. We’ll work simultaneously to rid your shrubs of annoying pests and weeds while providing the essential nutrients they need to thrive. And we don’t just service Louisiana – TruGreen Midsouth caters to Mississippi as well! If you’d like to learn more, leave us a message online or give us a call.
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