YOUR GARDEN: Kym Pokorny

Ten great shrubs for water-wise gardens


Kym Pokorny

Hotter-than-usual temperatures and longer stretches between measurable moisture this year mean plants need more water from the end of a hose.

Choose plants that require less water and you’ll save time and money and help sustain Oregon’s water supply, said Amy Jo Detweiler, a horticulturist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service.

Detweiler recommends these 10 plants for water-wise gardens:

• Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa): A compact deciduous shrub that grows about three feet tall and five feet wide and sports sunny yellow flowers from June until frost. Best in full sun, but will tolerate light shade. Hardy to Zone 2.

• Flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum):  Hummingbirds and butterflies flock to this large shrub that gets about 10 by five feet. Long clusters of dark pink flowers drip from branches in May and June. Give it full to partial sun. Hardy to Zone 5.

• Globe blue spruce (Picea pungens “Globosa”): A small conifer with striking silver-blue foliage that grows slowly to five to six feet. Plant in full sun for best color. Hardy to Zone 2.

• Manazanita (Arctostaphylos): A large genus of evergreen shrubs that run from two to 12 feet. Interesting in all four seasons with often twisting, mahogany bark and hanging clusters of bell-shaped white to pink flowers in late winter to early spring. Hummingbirds love it. Hardiness varies by species and cultivar. Check your local nursery for those appropriate in your area.

• Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius): Domes of white flowers in early summer show beautifully against the mid-green foliage of this six- to 10-foot deciduous shrub. It has the added attractions of peeling bark and superb fall color. Birds, bees and butterflies love the blooms. Two cultivars of note are “Dart’s Gold” with chartreuse leaves and “Diablo” with purple foliage. Hardy to Zone 2.

• Spirea japonica “Little Princess”: Clusters of pink flowers in summer prove irresistible to birds, butterflies and bees. A compact, mounding deciduous shrub that tops out at about three feet tall and six feet wide. Plant in full sun. Hardy to Zone 4.

• Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): Fragrant, grayish-green foliage distinguishes this three- to five-foot tall shrub that needs full sun. Spires of airy, lavender flowers bloom midsummer to fall and are good candidates for bouquets. Hardy to Zone 4.

• Serviceberry (Amelanchier): Here’s a shrub that has it all: showy white flowers in early spring, edible purple-red berries that attract birds and stunning red and yellow fall color. Wants full sun to perform its best. Grows six to 10 feet tall depending on the species. Hardy to Zone 2.

• Snowberry (Symphoricarpos): In spring, small, bell-shaped blooms appear at the end of branches on this five-by-six foot, deciduous shrub. The best part, though, are the white berries in fall. Birds love the berries. Bees, hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. Plant in full to partial sun. Hardy to Zone 3.

• Wayfaring tree “Mohican” (Viburnum lantana “Mohican”): Flat-topped clusters of white flowers come out in spring and are followed by fruits that start out pink, turn to red and then to black. This seven- by eight-foot, rounded deciduous shrub turns deep purple in fall. Give it full to partial sun. Hardy to Zone 3.

To learn more, consider taking WaterWise Gardening: Choosing the Right Plants, an online course offered by OSU’s Professional and Continuing Education.

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