perennials

ADDING FRAGRANT PLANTS TO YOUR LANDSCAPE

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Most of us are familiar with the wonderful sweet fragrance of an old fashioned lilac in the spring. A gentle breeze carries the fragrance through out a whole neighborhood.

 Would you like to add some other varieties of plants that add fragrance to your yard?

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Here are some Natural Plus favorites:

Trees:

All fruit trees (apples, pears, cherries, plums) have a wonderful fragrance in the spring when blooming. Plums are especially fragrant. 

Some other ornamental trees that give a sweet fragrance in spring when in bloom are flowering crabs, serviceberries, hawthorns, Japanese tree lilacs, fringe trees, and dwarf Korean tree lilacs.

Lindens are an upright pyramidal shaped shade tree with a heart shaped leaf. In June they produce very small yellow blooms that are barely visible unless you get up close to the tree. However, those blooms are very fragrant and you may be able to smell them from a half a block away.

 Shrubs:

Many shrubs are fragrant when in bloom. Some you may want to consider are: lilacs, (bloomerang lilacs rebloom to give a second set of fragrant blossoms mid-summer), mockorange (dwarf and standard size), snowberry, and elderberries.

Roses may or may not be fragrant. Newer hybridized varieties often have beautiful bloom colors and are more disease resistant, but have little fragrance. Older varieties such as rugosa roses bring back memories of fragrant rose gardens. One of our favorites is Purple Pavement.

 Perennials:

Most people are aware of the fragrance of peonies – a sturdy perennial that goes back generations. At Natural Plus we have a row of peonies that are over 50 years old and still produce hearty blooms every year.

Some other perennials that will add fragrance to your yard include:

Garden phlox (come in many colors), lavender (there is now a variety hardy for zone 4), iris, hyssop, astilbe, dianthus, most coneflowers, helleborus, bee balm, and sweet autumn clematis.  

Bulbs and Woodland Plants

Hyacinths (bulbs) and Lily of the Valley are spring bloomers that are particularly fragrant.

SUMMER PERENNIALS

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Summer perennials

The best of summer is now on display – flowers blooming around every corner. Summer perennials are showy and most are easy to grow.

Perennials grow and bloom, die back over winter, and regrow year after year. Planting perennials can save time and money as, unlike annuals, they don’t need to be purchased and planted every year.

Before planting perennials make sure you know their main characteristics such as height/width, sun or shade tolerance, bloom colors, and specific characteristics for planting.

Here are some of our favorite perennials:

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·      Daylilies – Stella De Oro (which bloom golden yellow) and Happy Returns (which bloom lemon yellow) are everywhere. They bloom most of the summer and take little care.  There are hundreds of varieties of other daylilies as well – from heritage varieties to new varieties that often re-bloom. Colors range from white to reds, yellows, purples, and greens

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·      Native perennials – Ditches are now full of natives that have been reseeded after decades of spraying. Some of those you are seeing are coneflowers, blazing star, butterfly weed, bee balm, and black eyed susans. These can now be planted in the home garden. New varieties are also available for some of these old faithfuls. New varieties have vibrant new colors and/or are dwarf varieties.

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·      Phlox – Phlox come in beautiful colors of purples, pinks, corals, and whites. Their downside is susceptibility to mildew. Newer varieties are resistant to mildew. Most varieties are quite invasive so plant in an area where they can spread.

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·      Hibiscus – Perennial hibiscus are a most showy summer perennial are very hardy. Plants grow to about 4 feet and blooms are the size of a dinner plate. Blooms come in a variety of colors – most are reds or pinks. Be sure to choose north hardy varieties.

·      Coral Bells – Coral Bells grow about 8-12”  and are mainly planted for their vibrant leaf colors. Colors include yellow, deep red, copper, and greens. Most are tolerant to sun or shade and are a nice filler in shade gardens or for borders in sun gardens.

·      Russian Sage and Hyssop – Both of these plants grow about 3 foot tall and have spikes of purple blooms. These are a butterfly favorite and make a wonderful background plant.

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·      Other perennials – There are hundreds of more perennials you can choose from. Some of these include balloon flowers, baby’s breath, beardtongue, coreopsis, etc.

Do your research before planting perennials and they will reward you with blooms and color for years.

 At Natural Plus we can help you plan a perennial garden if you need help.

Enjoy the beauty of summer!

PLANTING PERENNIALS THAT ATTRACT BUTTERFLIES

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 Planting Perennials that Attract Butterflies

 Almost anything that blooms in the summer will attract butterflies.  The most difficult part of planting to attract butterflies is narrowing down the choices. 

To get started ask yourself these questions and choose the plants that best suit your area: 

·      How tall do you want the plant to get?

·      Does your area have sun, shade, or part sun, and what direction does it face?

·      Do you want an evergreen or leafy plant?

·      Do you have any special wishes for the plant – color, blooms, etc.

Choosing native plants is always a good option.  

Some common perennials that are butterfly favorites include

·      Butterfly weed (Asclepias) -  Bright orange blooms, grow app. 2’

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·      Blazing star (Liatris)- Spikes of lavender blooms, grow app. 2’

·      Cone flowers (Echinacea) – Come in multiple colors and sizes

·      Black Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) – Bright yellow with brown centers

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·      Bee Balm (Monarda) – Come in multiple colors and sizes

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·      Cardinal Flower (Lobelia) –Bright red blooms, grows 3’

·      False Sunflower(Heliopsis) – Bright yellow flowers, grows 3’

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·      Hyssop (Agastache) – Blue violet spikes , grows 3’

·      Phlox – Come in multiple colors and sizes

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·      Sedums – Come in multiple colors and sizes

PLANTING TO ATTRACT BIRDS

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There is nothing more delightful than seeing the spring and fall migration of birds, a robin’s nest with blue eggs, the bright yellow color of goldfinch, or the bright blue of an indigo bunting.

There are some things you can do to attract these beautiful birds to your yard.

Birds have 3 basic needs to survive – habitat, food, and water. With farm fields becoming bigger and bigger it is more important than ever that farmsteads, farm windbreaks, and urban homes provide these basic needs.  No matter where they are, any trees, shrubs, or perennials that you plant are good for birds. Adding a source of water is also helpful to attract birds.  

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Evergreens are especially important for winter habitat. Eastern Red Cedars are native to Iowa. Many other evergreens such as junipers and yews also provide habitat and berries for winter food.

All shade trees provide habitat and shelter. Many of the smaller ornamental trees are excellent sources of berries. During the fall migration cedar wax wings especially like berries from serviceberries. Other ornamental trees that provide berries include crabapples, hawthorns, mountain ash, and fruit trees –especially cherries.

There are many shrubs that also provide berries. Some of these include viburnum, dogwood, elderberry, coralberry, aronia, and cotoneaster.  There are many varieties of viburnums. One of our favorites is called “Blue Muffin”. These grow about 5-7 feet tall and have beautiful clusters of bright blue berries. Aronia (Chokeberry) produce an edible berry which is considered an antioxidant. These can be harvested and made into jams and other products if you can beat the birds to the berries.

Perennials can also provide habitat and food sources. Hummingbirds,  warblers and other varieties of birds enjoy both blossoms and seeds. Planting natives is always a good idea.

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Anything you plant will encourage birds to your yard. Add a water source and your yard will become a favorite stopping spot for them.  As always, be mindful of sprays, pesticides, and herbicides and avoid these as much as possible