Articles in Category: Shrubs

Edible Figs

on Wednesday, 16 September 2020. Posted in Edible, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Fig trees

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 here at Shooting Star Nursery, 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 generally includes dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties like Olympian, Little Ruby, Stella, and Black Jack (perfect for small yards); Pacific Northwest specialties like Desert King; and old favorites like Brown Turkey and Peter’s Honey.

 blackjack 2012What 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?

Here are a few of the varieties we generally have in stock:

Black Spanish - Dark purple skin w/sweet amber flesh, reliable & productive, naturally dwarf
Brown Turkey – Medium-large fruit, sweet purplish/brown skin w/light pink flesh
Chicago Hardy – Medium fruit, brown to violet skin w/strawberry pink flesh, excellent flavor
Desert King - Large, green skin w/strawberry flesh, can bear 2 crops
Little Ruby – Medium fruit, reddish-brown skin w/ruby flesh, prolific bearer, dwarf variety
Olympian - Super hardy, purple skin w/red flesh, very sweet, dwarf variety
Peter's Honey - Deliciously sweet, yellow/green skin w/amber flesh, likes hot/protected exposure

Rhamnus californica

on Friday, 18 September 2020. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Native, Evergreen, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

California Coffeeberry

Coffeeberry

Coffeeberry is a great candidate for that hard-to-fill niche of an evergreen native shrub that also attracts birds and pollinators; is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and fire resistant; and even makes a good hedge or screen. In fact, it may well be the only plant that fills that niche!

Coffeeberry is a west coast native; occurring from southern Oregon all the way south into Baja California. It gets its common name from its fruit: berries that change from green to red to almost black over the course of the year. The flowers are inconspicuous (although pollinators notice them just fine) but the birds definitely notice the colorful berries.

Rhamnus makes a great hedge, usually growing at a medium rate to 6-8' tall and wide, with the potential to get larger in more wooded areas. The named variety 'Eve Case’ has broader and brighter, green foliage and will stay a bit more compact at 4-8' wide and tall. Its leaves are long and pointed and are a matte green with a paler underside.

Coffeeberry prefers full sun but can also be happy in part shade or a more wooded garden. In the Rogue Valley, it can tolerate the heat and most soils, although it prefers a sandy, well-draining soil. This is truly a drought-tolerant plant - once established, it can survive on no irrigation. To keep it more fire resistant, though, we recommend giving it a deep soak every two weeks during the summer months. We have found Coffeeberry to be deer resistant in most situations, especially once established. Deer may have a tendency to chew the new growth, but will leave plants alone when they get some size on them.

If you are new to growing native plants, this is a great plant to start with. Try it out to see how easy, attractive, and sustainable native plants can be in your garden!

Edible Figs (Copy)

on Wednesday, 16 September 2020. Posted in Edible, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Fig trees

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 here at Shooting Star Nursery, 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 generally includes dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties like Olympian, Little Ruby, Stella, and Black Jack (perfect for small yards); Pacific Northwest specialties like Desert King; and old favorites like Brown Turkey and Peter’s Honey.

 blackjack 2012What 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?

Here are a few of the varieties we generally have in stock:

Black Spanish - Dark purple skin w/sweet amber flesh, reliable & productive, naturally dwarf
Brown Turkey – Medium-large fruit, sweet purplish/brown skin w/light pink flesh
Chicago Hardy – Medium fruit, brown to violet skin w/strawberry pink flesh, excellent flavor
Desert King - Large, green skin w/strawberry flesh, can bear 2 crops
Little Ruby – Medium fruit, reddish-brown skin w/ruby flesh, prolific bearer, dwarf variety
Olympian - Super hardy, purple skin w/red flesh, very sweet, dwarf variety
Peter's Honey - Deliciously sweet, yellow/green skin w/amber flesh, likes hot/protected exposure

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Dark Knight'

on Wednesday, 05 August 2020. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Dark Knight Bluebeard

caryopteris-closeup-plant-o

This late summer bloomer goes by several common names - Bluebeard, Blue Spirea, Blue Mist - so we usually stick to calling it Caryopteris! Caryopteris is an easy, deer resistant, drought tolerant (but also tolerant of moist soils), and long blooming addition to your garden border. The plant in the photo is 'Dark Knight' which is a darker shade of periwinkle-blue from the common 'Blue Mist' variety. Both varieties put on a show with hundreds of flowers from July to frost, attracting honeybees and butterflies from all around.

20200827 105726A low maintenance plant, Caryopteris can be kept at 2-3' tall and wide with a spring pruning but will get larger if left unpruned. We find that our winters do some tip pruning anyways so it is best to clean them up in spring when you see new leaves emerge and pruning right above them, which can sometimes be as low as 6" from the base. They quickly recover into a nice mounded shape, looking dense and uniform. So they are great for the maintenance person that loves to come in and hedge trim everything!

With its aromatic, lance shaped leaves, this shrub has proven to be quite deer resistant. The leaves have a blue/silver tinge that look great with other silvers like Artemesia or contrast with purple foliage like smokebush. We find Caryopteris to be drought tolerant because of its very deep taproot but can look lusher with regular water in well draining soil. Full sun is best and they will tolerate reflected heat.

Vitex agnus-castus

on Wednesday, 22 July 2020. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Chaste Tree

Vitex edThis drought tolerant Mediterranean native absolutely thrives here in the Rogue Valley! Vitex needs consistent heat in order to bloom profusely, and our long hot summers give them exactly what they like. From mid-summer into early fall, Vitex is covered with long spikes of flowers ranging in color from soft lavender to dark blue. The blooms slowly open from the base to the tips, eventually reaching up to 12 inches long and lasting at least 4 to 5 weeks; attracting bees and hummingbirds from far and wide.

VitexFlipSide editVitex’s fragrant leaves are very attractive in their own right. Their shape is similar to a lace leaf Japanese Maple; and are a lovely shade of soft blue-green. Most varieties are gray-green underneath, but Flip Side features a dark purple reverse – making them truly stunning in a breeze. As an extra bonus, the fragrance helps make this plant quite deer resistant.

One of the fun things about Vitex is that you can grow it into whatever form you like, multi-trunk or single trunk tree, or a large, broad shrub. The straight species, and varieties like Shoal Creek get about 10-15’ tall and wide. Varieties like Flip Side and Delta Blues are smaller – maybe 8-10’ tall and wide at maturity. Vitex bloom on new wood, so they take very well to a severe pruning, even all the way back to the ground if needed. We have also seen them be used successfully in large containers against hot walls and parking lots.

Vitex grow slower with drought conditions and grow fairly rapidly with regular water and richer soil, but will tolerate both conditions well. We have been very impressed with the cold hardiness and drought tolerance of these shrubs as well as their many uses. Vitex are one of the few choices for a small tree or large shrub that thrives in the heat and has lovely blooms late in the season!