Articles in Category: Trees

Pistachia chinensis

on Tuesday, 31 August 2021. Posted in Fall Color, Trees, Drought Tolerant

Chinese Pistache Tree

Pistache2smPistache trees deserve more use in the Rogue Valley - they thrive in our hot, dry summers, provide long lasting fall color, and have interesting leaf texture.

Chinese Pistache are used a lot as street trees in the hot valleys of northern California, giving us a clue to how they well they would work here,especially in urban situations.  Being a Zone 7 tree, the Rogue Valley usually doesn't get cold enough to cause any problems for the Pistache. Placing it in full sun, in well draining soil will help it survive any cold snaps.

pistacheThese trees provide a spectacular fall color show of reds, oranges, crimsons, and yellows. Chinese Pistache will tolerate regular irrigation but are also relatively drought-tolerant and require no summer watering once established. The form of Pistache is not very uniform when young but they get a nice, dense canopy with age.

Being a slow growing tree - on average they will be about 25-30' tall and wide - but much older specimens can reach 50' tall.  Pistache are prone to verticillum wilt if you have it in your soil (not overwatering will help avoid this problem) but are resistant to oak root fungus. This is one of our best choices for a drought tolerant shade tree that can be used in many situations. 'Keith Davey' is a named variety that is a fruitless male and has red-orange fall color. The straight species, if it is a female tree, will form blue to black berries. 

Vitex agnus-castus

on Tuesday, 20 July 2021. Posted in Good for Screening, 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!

Amelanchier

on Wednesday, 16 June 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Fall Color, Edible, Trees, Shrubs

Serviceberry or Juneberry

Amelanchier Autumn Brilliance flower

For those of you who are not already familiar with Amelanchiers - aka: Serviceberry, Juneberry, Saskatoon (they have a LOT of common names), let this serve as an introduction to what might well become your new favorite shrub/small tree!

Serviceberries are one of those rare plants that provide year-round interest here in the Rogue Valley. In the spring, this charming member of the Rose family is covered by clouds of white flowers that are a big favorite with pollinators.

Summer brings truly delicious blue-black berries (hence the name Juneberry) that taste like a cross between a blueberry and an apple, and are as popular with birds as they are with humans.

The fall color of Serviceberries – especially ‘Autumn Brilliance’ – rivals maples for color and intensity. And even when they drop their leaves, the branching pattern of Serviceberries provides nice visual interest in the winter garden.

They’re also relatively carefree and easy to grow, and do well in full sun to light shade with average water. Most Serviceberries are somewhat drought-tolerant at maturity, and will only need deep watering once or twice a month during the summer.

Shooting Star Nursery regularly carries three varieties of Amelanchier:

 Autumn Brilliance plant crop edit'Autumn Brilliance': We are absolutely in love with this plant! It works well as either a small single-trunked tree or large multi-trunk shrub, reaching about 15’ to 20’ tall and wide at maturity. As the name suggests, ‘Autumn Brilliance’ puts on a truly spectacular show of color in the fall. 

Spring Flurry edit‘Spring Flurry’ has more of an upright tree form (28’ tall by about 20’ wide) than Autumn Brilliance’. It has a strong, dominant central leader and is a great choice for a small street tree: low maintenance, abundant spring flowers, and nice fall color too.  is generally available in tree form. 

Our native western serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) is a bit smaller than the two cultivars listed above - generally reaching about 12' by 6' at maturity - and can be found growing right here in the Rogue Valley and surrounding areas. They bloom and fruit about a month later, are easy to care for, and are excellent wildlife-friendly plants: the berries are heavily visited by a variety of pollinators, birds love the berries, and the plants also provide nice nesting sites for songbirds.

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

Lagerstroemia indica & hybrids

on Thursday, 09 July 2020. Posted in Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Crape Myrtle

Lager1 editHigh summer is the season of Crape Myrtles. While many perennials have begun to fade; and blooming shrubs and trees are few and far between, Crape Myrtles are just hitting their stride. From July through September, their lively show of crinkly crepe paper-like flower clusters in an array of whites, pinks, reds and purples are the perfect anecdote to a drab border. Not only do they deliver in bloom, but most varieties also boast fantastic fall color with fiery oranges and reds, in addition to tints of yellow and purple.

Even though we are on the northern edge of their winter hardiness range, Crape Myrtles are ideal plants for our hot summer climate. They thrive in full, hot sun and well-drained soil, and do best with deep, but infrequent soaks once established. Crape Myrtles bloom on new wood, so late winter or early spring is the best time to prune.

Natchez2 editRanging in size from dwarf shrubs around 3-5 feet tall and wide, to 20-foot-tall trees, there are endless possibilities for fitting Crape Myrtles into a landscape. Although naturally occurring as large shrubs, they are often pruned as trees or multi-stemmed specimens, which are the ideal forms for exposing their exquisite bark. With some age, their peeling cinnamon colored outer bark reveals a smooth and burnished surface, adding sophistication to their winter silhouette. This feature is truly the Crape Myrtle's saving grace due to the fact that they are notoriously late to leaf out in the spring. So be patient, because they are well worth the wait come the dog days of summer!

Without a doubt, the Crape Myrtles is a superior solution to the small tree challenge, offering three seasons of interest in a vibrant, heat and drought tolerant package.

Here, sorted by color, are some of the varieties we carry: