Articles in Category: Attracts Pollinators

Redbud (Cercis sp.)

on Friday, 14 February 2020. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Deer Resistant, Trees, Drought Tolerant

Redbud editRedbuds are lovely small trees: sturdy and adaptable, with rosy-pink spring flowers. Their size – 20’ tall or less – also makes them an excellent landscape choice when you don’t have the room for a larger tree.

 

Redbud flowers appear in early spring, cloaking the bare branches in small sweet pea-shaped blooms. The flowers are followed by beautiful heart-shaped leaves in a variety of colors, depending upon variety (see below). In general, redbuds prefer full sun and well-drained soil, and are relatively drought tolerant when established. Redbuds are also pollinator friendly and even relatively deer resistant. The one place where they can get a little picky is that they don’t like to have their roots disturbed. When planting a redbud, avoid loosening the roots before transplanting – the less root disturbance they have, the happier they are!

 

Here are some of the redbud varieties Shooting Star generally has available:

 

Oklahoma 2‘Oklahoma’: Oklahoma is one of the most heat tolerant redbuds we carry. Intensely red-pink buds open to a bright magenta pink. New leaves have a coppery tinge that matures into a dark, glossy green. Mature trees can get to be 20’ tall by 25’ wide.

 

Cercis Merlot‘Merlot’: Merlot’s emerging foliage is a stunningly deep purple that contrasts beautifully with their bright rose-colored flowers. Mature leaves retain a bronzy purple coloring that turns bright yellow in fall. Mature trees are 18’ tall by 20’ wide, with a nice rounded canopy.

 

Cercis the Rising Sun'The Rising Sun': This redbud features lovely lavender flowers in spring, but its most striking feature is the color of its leaves. New leaves are a deep apricot color that fades into a soft yellow, followed by lime green. The Rising Sun is less tolerant than most other redbuds, and will benefit from a bit extra afternoon shade. Mature trees are just 8’ to 12’ tall, by 8’ wide.

 

western redbudWestern Redbud (Cercis occidentalis): This is our local native redbud. Anyone who has driven down I-5 into Redding in the early spring has noticed these tough beauties growing on the hillside. Western redbud is extremely drought tolerant and also tolerates heavy soils better than other redbuds. Slow growing; 15’ tall and wide.

Hamamelis x intermedia

on Thursday, 13 February 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Witch Hazel

witch_hazel

Witch Hazels are one of our favorite shrubs at this time of year, as they cheer up these late winter days with their bright fringey blooms, and repeat the show all over again in the fall with spectacular leaf color. 

 

Hamamelis Arnolds PromiseMost Witch Hazels have a nice open form that is sculptural even when bare in winter. Their vase-shaped growth habit also provides a nice opportunity to use other plants at their base. Flowers unfurl in February and continue through March, with the textured leaves emerging afterwards. The thick leaves provide a great contrast with softer leaved plants like ferns, Euphorbias, or Geraniums. 

 

Hamamelis JelenaWitch Hazels are not the first choice for a hot spot in your yard, even though you will read that they will tolerate full sun (and you will see them looking spectacular in downtown Ashland in full sun). However, they will be prone to leaf burn and you will be watering more often if they are placed in full sun. Morning sun or at least half a day of sun is best. They also look wonderful in a wooded shade garden, just make sure they get some bright light for the best flower production and fall color. 

 

HamamelisWitch Hazels do best with regular water; deep soaks throughout the summer months and with a fertile, humus-rich soil. They are also generally deer resistant - we have seen them untouched in Ashland - but try one out first to make sure. 

 

Here are some of the varieties we generally carry (check our current retail availability for details):

'Amethyst' - Rounded shrub, 8' to 10' tall. with reddish-purple flowers

'Arnold's Promise'- Vase shaped with fragrant yellow flowers and yellow fall color

'Diane'- Rounded form with red flowers and orange-red fall color

'Jelena'- vase shaped vigorous grower with very fragrant large copper-orange flowers and orange-yellow fall color

'Sunburst'- upright, with lemon yellow blooms up to 1 inch long, early bloomer and yellow-orange fall color

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!

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.

Baccharis 'Twin Peaks'

on Thursday, 14 November 2019. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

'Twin Peaks' Coyote Brush

Baccharis flower'Twin Peaks' is one plant that really took me by surprise in the Shooting Star display gardens. 

Coyote Brush is widely known as a sturdy, fast growing, drought tolerant, evergreen native plant. The straight species (Baccharis pilularis) tends to be a little rangy and weedy-looking, but the 'Twin Peaks' cultivar forms a dense, mounding shrub - generally reaching around 2' tall by 6' wide. These plants thrive in the hot sun and in a variety of soils; including clay soil if they are planted on a slope. In fact, they're frequently used to help stabilize slopes and banked areas. As an extra bonus, deer tend to avoid them. 'Twin Peaks' is attractive enough to use up close to your house as an evergreen shrub, but is also a great choice for planting in extremely sunny areas, areas with poor soil, and out away from regular irrigation.

Baccharis Twin Peaks smThe thing that surprised me about 'Twin Peaks'? While the flowers (shown above) are fairly modest and unassuming, these plants are one of the best pollinator plants we grow here at Shooting Star - and we grow a lot of pollinator-friendly plants! On a recent late fall afternoon, the 'Twin Peaks' in our display garden was not only covered in flowers, but hosted the most diverse assortment of pollinators I've seen on a single plant: honeybees, bumblebees, tiny solitary bees, skippers, butterflies - even a big bee fly! 

While 'Twin Peaks' is a truly low-maintenence plant, a light annual pruning in early spring will help keep the plants looking full and dense.