Exciting Stone Fruit Hybrids

on Thursday, 23 January 2020. Posted in Edible, Trees

Pluerrys, Pluots, and Nectaplums – Oh My!

Flavor Punch PluerryPluerrys, Pluots, and NectaPlums combine the flavors of your favorite stone fruits in new and exciting ways. These hybrid stone fruits have been growing in popularity over the past few years, probably because they are so darned tasty! In fact, all of the varieties carried by Shooting Star are frequent taste-test winners.
 
 In general terms: NectaPlums are nectarine-peach-plum hybrids, Pluerrys are plum-cherry hybrids, pluots are apricot-plum hybrids – just imagine the flavor possibilities! Note: hybrids are the result of cross-pollinating two different varieties of a plant, producing an offspring - or hybrid - that contains some of the traits of each of the parents. Hybrids are the result of a natural process - not to be confused with GMO's!
Spice Zee NectaPlum is the only self-fruitful one of the bunch; the others require a pollinizer in order to set fruit – generally another pluot or a Japanese plum (Santa Rosa, sometimes Burgundy). 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean taking up more space in your yard with a second tree. Many backyard orchardists are now planting multiple fruit trees – sometimes up to four - in a single hole – which means you could plant a Pluerry, a few Pluots, and a Plum in the same space that one tree would take. In addition to saving space, planting multiple trees in a single hole tends to have a dwarfing effect on all the trees – making them easier to harvest. For more information on this technique, check out Dave Wilson Nursery’s Backyard Orchard Culture article here. Here are some of the varieties Shooting Star currently has available in bareroot.

spicezeeSpice Zee NectaPlum: A white-fleshed, nectarine-peach-plum hybrid. Skin is dark maroon at fruit set, and turns pale pink when ripe. Fully ripe, this fruit is unparalleled in flavor and both nectarine and plum traits are easily detectable. Tremendous purplish pink bloom in the spring, followed by a flourish of red leaves which mature into lush green in mid to late summer. Self-fruitful. Very productive.

 

Flavor Punch Pluerry: Small to medium (golf ball size) fruit with orange-red exterior and bright orange interior. Firm texture with unique sweet tropical punch flavor. Late season harvest, September into October. Requires another Pluerry, Plum or Pluot as pollinizer.

 

sweet treat pluerrySweet Treat Pluerry: This taste-test favorite is a complex interspecific hybrid, predominantly of plum and cherry, combining the sweetness of a cherry with that summer fresh plum zing. Much larger than a cherry, this precocious and prolific variety will hang on the tree for over a month, and the colorful fruit make Sweet Treat a true ornamental. Pollinizer required: Burgundy or Santa Rosa plum, or Flavor King Pluot.

 

flavorqueenFlavor Queen Pluot: Exquisite plum/apricot hybrid with candy-like sweet, wonderfully pleasing flavor. Greenish-yellow skin, amber-orange flesh. Prolonged harvest in mid to late summer. Pollinized by Flavor Supreme Pluot or by a Japanese plum (Burgundy or Santa Rosa).

 

flavorgrenadeFlavor Grenade Pluot: Elongated green fruit with red blush. Crisp texture, explosive flavor. Hangs on the tree for 4-6 weeks. Late summer to early fall harvest. Pollinized by Flavor King Pluot or Santa Rosa plum.

 

flavorkingFlavor King Pluot: Unique plum-apricot hybrid with sensational bouquet and sweet, spicy flavor. Reddish-purple skin, crimson flesh. Harvest mid to late summer. Naturally small tree. Pollinized by Flavor Supreme Pluot or Santa Rosa plum.

 

Geo Pride 2011Geo Pride Pluot: Red-skinned, yellow flesh plum-apricot hybrid. Balanced acid and sugar to predominantly sweet with unique plum-apricot flavor. Medium-sized, very heavy production. Harvest early summer, just ahead of Flavor Queen Pluot. Pollinized by Flavor Supreme Pluot, Santa Rosa plum. Good pollinizer for other plum and Pluot varieties.

Sarcococca

on Friday, 10 January 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Fragrant Sweetbox

Sarcococca ruscifolia

Dark and shady places - like the north walls of a home - can be extremely challenging sites to plant. Sarcococca, or Sweetbox, is an ideal shrub for low-light situations like this. Thriving in everything from part sun to deep shade, Sweetbox is an attractive, broad-leafed evergreen with glossy dark green leaves that provides a good backdrop for airier ferns and flowering shade perennials. 

There are a handful of different species ranging from upright shrubs to slowly spreading groundcovers. They all have simple leathery leaves and are for the most part deer resistant, making this genus a true problem solver in a myriad of ways. Not to mention they bloom in late winter when most plants haven't even broken dormancy! 

Even though their small fringy flowers are not what you would consider showy, they amply make up for it with a powerfully sweet, vanilla-like fragrance that is sure to get attention. Add in red to black berries that lend a festive quality later in the year, and you've got a great four-season plant!

In return, this understated plant merely asks for moderately fertile soil with decent drainage and regular water throughout the hotter months. That is not to say Sweetbox wouldn't prefer rich, humusy and acidic soil, but it is quite adaptable once established. 

 

Here are some of our favorite types:

 

Sarcococca ruscifolia or Fragrant Sweetbox is the largest of the more common species reaching 3-6' high and wide with an arching habit and more rounded leaves. It is known to naturally espalier itself against a house and thus can be useful in tight spots and under windows. Its growth is slow to moderate and can easily be kept at 3’.

Sarcococca 'Fragrant Valley' is a compact yet vigorous selection growing to 18-24" tall and 3-4' wide. 

Sarcococca 'Fragrant Mountain' attains a slightly larger size at 2-3' tall and 3-4' wide, making it a great alternative to Skimmia japonica. 

All of these varieties are disease resistant and tolerant of drier soils and less than ideal conditions. Sarcococca species are great supporting cast members for the shady garden (…we can't all be stars...) - and a must have for lovers of fragrant plants!

Dwarf Fruit Trees for Small Spaces

on Friday, 10 January 2020. Posted in Edible, Trees

peaches editThere are few pleasures that compare to picking a sun-warmed homegrown peach, biting into it, and letting the sweet rich juice trickle down your chin. Sadly, that’s an experience that those of us with small yards don’t get to indulge in: full-sized fruit trees just take up too much space!
 
And that’s where dwarf and miniature fruit trees come in. These tiny trees are a great option for space-challenged gardeners who dream of having their own fruit orchard. In fact, many dwarf fruit trees – especially peaches and nectarines – can be grown in large barrels. Best of all, although dwarf fruit trees are small in stature – their fruit (and flavor) are both full-sized. Here are a few of the dwarf fruit trees Shooting Star currently has available in bareroot:
 
garden delicious 2010 1Garden Delicious Dwarf Apple: Self-fertile, 8’ – 10’ tall (smaller with pruning). This mid/late season apple has a superb flavor – sweet and crisp – and is a good keeper.
 
North StarNorth Star Dwarf Cherry: Sour cherry, self-fertile, 8’ – 10’ tall (smaller with pruning). Very productive, with large red fruits; great for pies and cobblers. North Star will often begin to bear in its second year.
 
NectazeeNecta Zee Miniature Nectarine: Self-fertile. A sweet, yellow-fleshed freestone. Heavy bearing and a frequent taste test winner - often referred to as ‘exquisitely flavored’.
 
garden goldGarden Gold Miniature Peach: Self-fertile and late blooming, so a good choice for colder areas. Garden Gold is a freestone peach with a great flavor, and ripens mid/late season.
 
pix zeePix Zee Miniature Peach: Self-fertile, yellow-fleshed freestone. Pix Zee is vigorous to about 6’ tall (smaller with pruning), and bears large, delicious, firm-fleshed fruit.
 
Dwarf fruit trees have the same general requirements as full-sized fruit trees: well-drained soil, and a minimum of 6 hours sun a day during the growing season. If you opt to grow yours in a large container, you’ll need to make sure to keep them watered regularly – especially during summer months. 
 
Interested in learning more about planting, pruning, and caring for your new bareroot fruit tree? Be sure to register for our February 15th ‘Bareroots Basics’ class!

Edible Figs

on Wednesday, 08 January 2020. Posted in Edible, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Fig trees

If you’re thinking of adding some new fruiting trees and shrub to your yard this year to create an edible landscape, figs are a great place to start!

figsFigs are native to the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East and thrive in our hot, dry summers. These rich, almost decadent-tasting fruits are also surprisingly undemanding, low-maintenance plants. They’re fast growing, begin bearing fruit at just two years old, and will often bear two crops a year. Few pests (including deer!) bother them. Figs enjoy well-drained soils and only require deep, infrequent watering once they’re established. They're also self fertile, and are actually pollinated on the inside of the fruit by a special wasp.

Here in the Rogue Valley, figs tend to grow more as tall, multi-trunked shrubs than full-sized trees. That’s actually an asset for home gardeners, because it makes their fruit easier to harvest. Plants bear fruit primarily on year-old growth, and are most productive when pruned annually in mid-winter. A harsh winter in the first few years of being planted can cause a fig to have some branch die back.  They are quick to rebound from the roots though once warm weather returns. Give them as much heat as possible to enhance their ripening.

figleavesWe carry a good assortment of figs at Shooting Star and always try to carry varieties that are more likely to ripen in our shorter heat season, compared to several better-known types that perform better in California. Our selection includes dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties like Olympian and Black Jack (perfect for small yards); Pacific Northwest specialties like Oregon Prolific, Desert King, and Osborne Prolific; and old favorites like Brown Turkey and Latturula (Italian Honey Fig- yum!).  See our fruit tree description list for more details on skin color and ripening..

 

blackjack 2012Figs are one of those fruits that don't keep well at the market, so you are lucky to have your own crop. What can you do with the abundance of figs you’re already imagining harvesting? That’s where the fun really begins! Figs can be eaten fresh off the tree (make sure they are quite soft before picking), dried, or turned into a variety of tasty jams and preserves. But why stop there? Fire up your broiler or grill and try broiled figs stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Or make your own dolmas!  See what we mean about decadent?

 

FIG VARIETIES FOR THE NW:

Fig 'Black Jack'

large, sweet purple skin w/strawberry flesh, semi-dwarf

 

Fig 'Black Spanish' **

dark purple skin w/sweet amber flesh, reliable & productive, naturally dwarf

 

Fig 'Brown Turkey' 

Med-lrg, sweet purplish/brown skin w/lt. pink flesh, big

 

Fig 'Desert King'

large, green skin w/strawberry flesh, can bear 2 crops

 

Fig 'Lattarula' (Italian Honey Fig) **

large, lt. green skin w/ amber flesh, can bear 2 crops

 

Fig 'Olympian'

Super hardy, purple skin w/red flesh, very sweet, dwarf

 

Fig 'Oregon Prolific' 

vigorous, yellow skin w/ white flesh, great for Pac. NW

 

Fig 'Osborne Prolific'

Purple brown skin w/sweet amber flesh, hardy & productive, good in PNW

 

Fig 'Peter's Honey' **

deliciously sweet, yellow/green skin w/amber flesh, likes hot/protected exposure

 

Fig 'Scott's Black'

Thin purple skin w/red flesh, sweet, closed eye

 

Fig 'Vern's Brown Turkey'  **

Brown skin w/amber flesh, sweet/flavorful, can produce 2 crops a season 

 

Arctostaphylos 'John Dourley'

on Thursday, 02 January 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

'John Dourley' Manzanita

Dourley editHere at Shooting Star Nursery, we love our manzanitas!

Manzanitas are native, evergreen, drought tolerant, low maintenance - and really, really pretty. They’re also an important source of nectar for overwintering Anna’s hummingbirds; providing the rich, sugary nectars these birds rely on. In fact, manzanitas are outstanding plants for wildlife-friendly gardens, providing shelter, a late winter/early spring nectar source for a variety of pollinators, and late summer fruits that feed birds and other critters.

One of the earliest blooming manzanita varieties for Rogue Valley gardens is Arctostaphylos ‘John Dourley’. Ours here at the nursery are already blooming happily in early January! ‘John Dourley’ is a hybrid of two species of manzanita: A. pajaroensis x A. bakeri. They’re one of the most garden tolerant manzanitas around, thrive in either full sun and partial sun, and can even be grown in clay soils. Plants generally reach 2’ to 4’ tall by 4’ to 6’ wide – making them great candidates for a low hedge. New growth is coppery red, which is set off nicely by their cinnamon colored bark.

Like most manzanitas, ‘John Dourley’ requires little to no water once established. Most species of manzanita are also Verticillium Wilt resistant and also do well with water high in Boron (since they hardly need water!). If you are planting ‘John Dourley’ in clay soil, plants will do best planted on a mound or hillside.

Warning: manzanitas are a bit like potato chips – you might find it hard to just plant one! For more information on the other species of manzanitas we generally carry here at Shooting Star, check out this article on our website.