by Connie Oswald Stofko
Don’t hurry to plant shrubs in Western New York.
That’s one tip from Jen Weber, vice president and manager of Mike Weber Greenhouses, 42 French Rd., West Seneca.
We’ll give you more details on when to plant shrubs, as well as a suggestion for a tried-and-true shrub and a couple of shrubs that may be new to you.
When to plant shrubs
When people lose shrubs, it’s usually because they planted too early.
“Wait until Father’s Day,” Weber suggested. “The second week in June and on is okay.”
In May, the soil is still too cold.
“Don’t rush,” she said. “Shrubs are expensive.”
We’re well into warm summer weather now, so you can plant shrubs.
However, this year we’ve had extreme heat and watering can be a challenge. People will turn the sprinkler on, but not leave it on long enough, Weber said. Or the sprinkler will get the grass wet, but not water the shrub thoroughly.
Weber suggests getting watering bags for trees. Their garden center doesn’t carry watering bags, but she recommends them because the water goes to the roots where the shrub needs it. The bag releases water slowly so the shrub isn’t flooded.
The best time to plant shrubs is in October, Weber said. Even though the air is cold, the ground is still warm.
“I’ve never lost a shrub when I plant in fall,” she said.
Mike Weber’s Greenhouses won’t be offering shrubs then because they will be closed for the season “but other nurseries will be open,” Weber said. “I don’t want people to think they can’t plant shrubs.”
Here are some suggestions for shrubs that, as I write this, are in stock at Mike Weber’s.
Shrubs new to you, tried & true
Odd shape, but fragrant shrub
“This is kind of an odd one,” Weber said of Abelia mosanensis ‘Sweet Emotion’. Its growing habit “is kind of wild.”
Let’s start with this shrub’s good features.
First, it’s deer resistant.
‘Sweet Emotion’ is also fragrant.
“It smells so good when it’s blooming,” she said, “and it’s a really noticeable scent. You don’t have to stick your head into the shrub to smell the flowers.”
‘Sweet Emotion’ blooms in June, and the flowers are trumpet shaped, and colored white with a pink center.
The shrub is nice and round when it’s blooming. Then it starts to go wild.
“The branches get long and ropy and twisty, like Medusa,” she said, referring to the character in Greek mythology who had snakes for hair.
You can cut it back, and this shrub is perfect for people who like to shape their shrubs, she said.
‘Sweet Emotion’ likes full sun. It gets about five feet tall and five feet wide.
Pretty evergreen, low maintenance
“This is a really pretty shrub,” Weber said of andromeda Pieris japonica ‘Compacta’. “Everyone who walks by has to touch it.”
It’s a slow-growing evergreen that looks very similar to rhododendron, but smaller.
The flowers are different from a rhododendron, too.
“The flowers look like a waterfall of white teardrops,” Weber said.
It gets about five feet tall and wide.
It has a compact, upright growing habit. If you were put off by the wild growing habit of Abelia mosanensis ‘Sweet Emotion’, you may like Pieris japonica ‘Compacta’ better because it’s low maintenance. You won’t have to shape it.
Fan favorite shrub
Ninebark is a tried-and-true shrub.
“Everybody seems to love them,” Weber said. “They’re low maintenance and deer resistant. They flower, but you don’t have to deadhead them. They change throughout the seasons. Butterflies like them.”
And if you like like shaping your shrubs, you can do that.
Mike Weber’s Greenhouses currently has two varieties in stock: ‘Ginger Wine’ and ‘Tiny Wine’.
‘Ginger Wine’ ninebark
In the spring, ‘Ginger Wine’ ninebark starts out with orangish leaves that turn to a burgundy color. The leaves get more of a burgundy color when it gets hot out.
In June, the plant gets white flowers.
In autumn, the leaves get bright orange with hints of red.
In winter, the shrub loses its leaves, but you still have the structure of the branches to give interest to your garden.
If it gets more sun, the leaves will be more vibrant orange. In shade, the leaves will be more burgundy all year.
The leaves are quite small, and the shrub has a full, dense, compact growing habit.
It gets about four feet tall and wide.
‘Tiny Wine’ ninebark
This shrub starts out with burgundy leaves that turn greener with heat. In autumn, the hue will be closer to burgundy.
‘Tiny Wine’ ninebark also gets white flowers.
It gets about three feet tall and wide, and its shape is more of a pyramid.