Five Landscape Superstars that are Guaranteed to Add Sparkle to Any Yard
Landscape shrubs are a lot like movie actors. The “extras” fill space, but they are hardly noticed. The “stars” are dramatic, and they bring flair to their landscape roles. And then there are the “superstars”—the rare beauties that command attention because they are distinctive, colorful and impossible to forget.
Most yards seem to be filled with shrubs that are dull, boring “extras.” During the growing season they are green, and they do a nice job of filling in the bare spots next to the house or fence. But they tend to be so boring that everyone refers to these shrubs as “bushes.”
The stars are the plants that are most familiar. Rose bushes, lilacs, azaleas and other flowering shrubs are widely recognized as landscape stars. Sadly, many landscapes have no superstar shrubs at all. There is nothing to command attention, and there is certainly nothing in the yard that takes your breath away.
Here are five shrubs that can claim the title of superstar. Place these impressive shrubs in the right location and they will be the topic of conversation with the neighbors. Who knows, putting a superstar plant in the right place might even stop traffic.
Many hydrangeas are landscape stars. Hydrangeas make terrific foundation plants, and you can add a little “bling” to your house by placing one near your front door or by your back patio where everyone can watch its spectacular display of colorful flowers.
Cherry Explosion Hydrangea takes these deciduous shrubs to a new level. Like most hydrangeas, this new variety has a rounded growth habit with dark green elliptic leaves that provide the perfect backdrop for its showy flowers. But it’s the flowers that make Cherry Explosion Hydrangea a superstar. Cherry red is a perfect color to liven up those dull areas of a garden, and nothing delivers with as much punch as this new variety. The super hardy macrophylla is covered with cherry red florets (one of the brightest reds available in any hydrangea) surrounding a profusion of tiny light pink star-like flowers in the center. The flowers cover the shrub from top to bottom.
Chery Explosion does well in a variety of conditions, but it likes protection from the hottest afternoon sun. Like most hydrangeas, the color is highly influenced by the soil. If the soil is too acid, the flowers will turn lavender.
Not to be outdone by the flowers, the foliage puts on a nice show too. Forrest green most of the year, the leaves turns a lovely burgundy in the fall with the onset of cooler weather. Cherry Explosion only grows to 3-4 feet high and makes an impact throughout USDA Zones 4-9. Plants in 1-gallon containers sell for $29.75 from www.naturehills.com.
There’s no better way to get early spring off to a colorful start than with a forsythia bush. The bright yellow flowers which cover every stem of the plant are a sure sign that warmer weather is just around the corner.
Forsythia Show Off® Starlet is an especially prolific bloomer. It has a compact, upright habit that reaches 2-3 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Its dark green lance-shaped leaves turn a delightful shade of bronze in the fall.
Show Off Starlet is air pollution tolerant and deer resistant. It prefers a good, loose soil and is very adaptable. Prune after flowering if needed. If you wish to maintain a smaller plant, remove a few of the oldest stems at ground level.
Yes, the name is a mouthful, but Oso Happy ‘Candy Oh!’ Rose is a genuine landscape superstar. ‘Candy Oh’ is an easy-to-grow landscape rose that keeps producing red flowers throughout the growing season
This sweet shrub rose reblooms all summer and into fall—even without deadheading the spent flowers. During the summer, the plant is covered with large sprays of candy-apple red flowers. The single-petaled flowers look like wild roses, boasting red petals with a yellow center. Oso Happy ‘Candy Oh!’ Rose has a dense, mounded habit and is very low maintenance.
Cold hardy throughout USDA Zones 4-9 and disease resistant, this is a perfect choice for adding color to perennial borders or foundation plantings. What could be better than a rose bush that looks this good and needs no special care? Plants sell for $28.90 from www.naturehills.com.
Pink PinnacleTM Vitex is an ornamental shrub that looks right at home next to a front porch or as a specimen shrub in the backyard. Wherever it’s planted, Pink PinnacleTM Vitex is a star in the summertime when long pink flower spikes cover this shrub. The long panicles of delightful pink blossoms gradually open from the bottom and extend outward above the vibrant, green foliage. Simply clip off the spent blooms and the floral show will continue all summer long.
As the season progresses, the flowers yield to dark berries that give the shrub an additional decorative touch. Even the foliage is beautiful, with green compound palmate leaves. Each large, aromatic leaf consists of several 2 to 4-inch leaflets that feature silver-toned undersides.
Pink PinnacleTM Vitex reaches a mature size of 4 feet tall and wide. It has a compact, rounded habit with a slightly bushy nature. With its similar bloom to lilacs, Pink PinnacleTM Vitex is an excellent choice for lilac-lovers who reside in warmer climates (where lilac trees would struggle). It’s even insect and disease resistant, and deer tend to pass it by.
This tough shrub thrives in full sun throughout USDA Zones 6-9. It is moderately drought tolerant and grows best in well-drained soil. A 3-gallon plant sells for $55.95 each exclusively from www.NatureHills.com.
Lilac bushes are well-known for producing stunning displays of lilac flowers. What makes ‘Bloomerang’ Purple Lilac Tree a landscape superstar is the tree form and the repeating blooms that come in the spring and then again throughout the summer.
That’s right—two seasons of bloom, not just the spring flowers that most lilacs are known for. This lilac tree does go through a rest period during the heat of the summer, but the wait is worth it. As temperatures start to cool down, the tree becomes covered once again with lilac flowers. Bloomerang’s fragrant flowers continue until the first frost. This tough plant is very cold hardy—it thrives in USDA Zones 3-7. Trained into a tree form, this compact beauty makes a great ornamental tree for any landscape. It works great as a specimen plant where it commands attention, or use it as a foundation plant near the house. Because of its tree form, it can also be used in a large container on a patio. Plants sell for $139.95 from www.naturehills.com, but order early before they sell out.