Ornamental Characteristics Of Shrubs

By The Old House Web

Ornamental Characteristics Of Shrubs


A long season of bloom can be developed by planting various types of shrubs. The time any shrub remains in bloom varies from a few days to several weeks. The sequence of bloom of several different shrubs remains the same. Use the sequence of bloom to develop a planting with a long blooming period. Weather can shorten the blooming sequence so all shrubs bloom within a shorter time period. Most landscapes have lots of flowers in spring, few in summer.

Some shrubs bloom on wood produced the current growing season. The other type of shrub forms a shoot in the spring, lengthens it in summer, then form flower buds during the fall. The flower buds are carried through winter and opened in the spring.

A summer flowering shrub blooming on current year's wood, produce more new growth if pruned in early spring. More new growth should give more flowers. A spring blooming shrub is pruned right after the flowering.

Cold temperatures can kill flower buds carried through the winter. A shrub fertilized heavily with nitrogen may not flower well. Nitrogen promotes the formation of leaves and branches but not flowers.

There is a sequence of fruiting just as there is a sequence of blooming. The fruiting sequence is not the same as the blooming sequence and may be disrupted by birds feeding on the fruit. Shrubs with showy flowers may have insignificant or non-ornamental fruit. Shrubs with inconspicuous flowers may have very showy fruit.

The same factors that prevent flowers prevent fruiting. It is possible to have flowers but lack pollination, hence no fruit. Cold, rainy weather during full bloom prevents bees from pollinating the flower. Frost may kill the blossoms resulting in failure to set fruit.

For shrubs such as holly, yew, and bittersweet, the plant is either male or female. Since fruit is only produced on a female plant, it is necessary to grow a female plant. To insure pollination, a male plant must be grown. Usually one male plant pollinates 2 or 3 female plants. A plant with this flowering habit is dioecious.

On some plants, flowers are either female or male but occur on the same plant. Plants with this flowering habit are monoecious. Most flowering shrubs have flowers with both female and male parts.

Brightly colored fruit make a better show than dull colors. A number of shrubs have black or dark purple fruit that often go unnoticed.

The time fruit is ornamental should be a consideration. Fruit persisting into winter provides color in the winter landscape.

A Shrub may produce beautiful fruit but too few to be noticed, so their ornamental value is low.

Within limits, the larger the fruit the more ornamental it will be. Large fruit can be a problem to clean up. Don't plant shrubs with poisonous berries near public walkways. Some shrubs produce fruits eaten by birds. This may be a reason for selecting a particular shrub.

Foliage color, other than green, can occur in fall, in spring, or from spring to fall. Spring only foliage color fades to green or off green by summer. Colored foliage shrubs can be less vigorous than the same plant with green foliage. Shrubs with variegated leaves may not be as vigorous as the same species with green leaves. Shrubs with colored foliage may need different light intensity.

Sunlight is necessary for good fall color development or summer foliage coloration. For example, barberry cultivars with purple leaves in the sun, have green leaves in the shade.

Winter color is provided by evergreens or shrubs with colored bark.

There are two types of evergreens, needled and broad-leaved. Needled evergreens are useful as background plants and some broad-leaved evergreens are exceptional flowering plants.

Bark is another ornamental feature. The bark may be highly colored or have interesting texture.

Select shrubs hardy enough to survive the winter.

Avoid shrubs with serious pest problems. The large selection of available shrubs makes it unnecessary to use those with serious pest problems. Most shrubs are attacked by pests during their lives but most can be easily controlled or ignored. Shrubs to avoid are those with serious pest problems every year.

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