Posts

Chaste Tree, Shrub

Our Favorite Summer Flowering Shrubs

Louis Ratchford, Merrifield Plant Specialist

It’s midsummer and if you are like most people, when you think of blooming trees and shrubs you are probably thinking of crape myrtles and hydrangeas. Both of these iconic summer plants are beautiful, but there are many other summer blooming trees and shrubs to consider!  Each of these 7 gorgeous trees and shrubs make a wonderful addition to any summer garden. Now is a great time to plant any of these summer-bloomers, so come visit one of our locations to find the perfect match for your garden!

Buddleia, Butterfly Bush, Shrub

Butterfly Bush

As the name implies, this shrub is a butterfly’s best friend! Watch your Butterfly Bushes attract these pretty pollinators to your outdoor space as they bloom consistently throughout the summer with purple, blue, pink, red, white, or even yellow flowers (these ones are harder to come by). Typically, this shrub will grow 6-8 feet tall, but there are dwarf varieties available which max out at around 3 feet.

Chaste Tree, Shrub

Chaste Tree

The Chaste tree’s purple, cone-like flowers remind me of the Butterfly Bush. Similarly, it flowers consistently throughout the summertime, with nice colorful blooms lasting for many weeks. As the plant matures and grows larger in size—up to 12 feet or taller!—it acquires a multi-trunk sculpture and takes on a beautiful tree-like form.

Abelia 'Kaleidoscope', Shrub

Abelia

If you are looking for a bush that will always bring color to your garden for multiple seasons of the year, abelia is the right choice. It has long-lasting summer blooms, flowering for about 1 month. Even as colder months approach and the flowers start to fall off, it still keeps its brilliance! The parts left over from the white flowers, known as sepals, have the appearance of little red flowers— a perfect look for fall. The ‘Radiant’ and ‘Kaleidoscope’ abelias are known for their variegated foliage, which keeps your abelias looking wonderful even after the blooming season passes!

Trumpet Vine 'Morning Calm'

Morning Calm Trumpet Vine

This vining plant is a wonderful addition to any garden. Morning Calm is a unique kind of trumpet vine. It has trailing vines with orange flowers that bloom on the ends of the stems, following the vine as it trails downwards, creating a beautiful cascade of orange flowers. It takes on the personality of a grape plant with its large woody stem structure. There are also native varieties of trumpet vine available.

Rose of Sharon Hibiscus, Shrub

Hibiscus – Rose of Sharon

These easy-to-grow flowers will add a gorgeous tropical feel to your garden. There are both tropical and perennial varieties of hibiscus, and each flower consistently for at least 3 weeks. You can choose from a selection of pink, purple, yellow, blue, and white colors. Some varieties of the hibiscus are sterile, so if you are looking for a beautiful non-reproductive plant, the hibiscus is a great choice.

Hydrangea

This is an already popular plant, but for good reason! Add this colorful flower to your garden for a beautiful, timeless look. Note that there are many varieties of the hydrangea, with a more extensive list in our full hydrangea blog post.

Here are my favorite picks:

Macrophylla

The macrophylla, more commonly known as the big leaf hydrangea, falls under the endless summer series of hydrangeas, which bloom off of both new and old growth! It has coloring that is dependent on the pH level of the soil it is planted in. A more acidic soil will result in a blue flower, and a more alkaline soil will produce a pink flower. This variety is happiest in part-sun to shade.

Panicle Hydrangea, Shrub

Panicle

Depending on the cultivar, the coloring on the panicle hydrangea starts off as lime green and undergoes a transition from white, to light pink, to dark pink and finally to a beautiful maroon shade as it matures. This one is a more sun-loving hydrangea, preferring full-sun.

Oakleaf

Known for its cone-shaped flowers, the oakleaf hydrangea petals turn from white to pink as it matures. It has a nice woody structure with distinctive peeling bark and, in the fall, develops attractive red foliage.

Kodiak Orange Diervilla, Shrub

Kodiak Orange Diervilla

An exciting new addition to Merrifield Garden Center! Commonly known as the bush honeysuckle, the diervilla kodiak orange has beautiful red stems and will grow to be approximately 3-4 feet tall. It develops a bright orange foliage in the fall, is shade tolerant and adaptive to most soil types. My favorite aspect of this plant is that it is deer resistant!

And don’t forget – my favorite perennials for summer color!

If you are looking for a smaller plant for summer color, I always love the classic perennials Coneflower, Coreopsis, and Black Eyed Susan. These beautiful plants allow gardeners to add bright color to their gardens in the summer even if they do not have room for a tree or shrub.

Bigleaf Hydrangea, Shrub

Our Hydrangea Picks for Summer Blooms

If you are looking for something to brighten up your summer landscape, hydrangeas are the perfect plant! These beautiful plants bloom in bouquets of large white, pink and blue blossoms. In any garden, hydrangeas can turn a green summer landscape into a show of vibrant flowers.

Here are our hydrangea picks:

Annabelle Hydrangea, Shrub

Annabelle

‘Annabelle’ is a native hydrangea that features stunning white flower clusters up to 12 inches wide. The flowers appear in late spring to summer, often continuing into fall. Strong, straight stems hold up the huge flower heads.

Endless Summer Hydrangea, Shrub

Bigleaf

Arguably the most recognizable of all hydrangeas, bigleaf hydrangeas are in full bloom from June through July. The flowers are come in two shapes – round and softball sized (mophead),

or flat topped and delicate (lace-capped).

With many of these varieties, the blooms tend to be blue in acidic soils and pink in more alkaline soil. Gardeners can change the colors of pink and blue flowers by altering the pH of the soil, but white flowers cannot be changed by altering the soil.

Our Bigleaf Hydrangea Picks

  • ‘Nikko Blue’ – Gigantic, blue flower clusters demand attention in the summer garden
  • ‘Pistachio’ – this dazzling variety features unique lime green and hot pink flowers.
  • Repeat bloomers – these recent introductions will continue blooming throughout the summer. Our favorites are ‘Endless Summer’, ‘Blushing Bride’, ‘Twist-n-Shout’ and ‘Penny Mac’.
Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing Hydrangea

This sprawling, woody vine can reach 30-40 ft. and becomes covered in white, lace-cap flowers up to 10 inches in diameter in the late spring and early summer. It can tolerate part to full shade and climbs up any structures it is places against, or when unsupported, as a mounding, sprawling shrub.

Japanese Hydrangea Vine

Similar to the climbing hydrangea, the Japanese hydrangea vine blooms a little later in the season and has heart-shaped flowers. One of our favorites is ‘Moonlight’, with silver, blue-green leaves and fragrant, white, lace-cap flowers.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Native to the United States, Oakleaf is named for its dark green, oak-like leaves. It produces large creamy white or pink blossoms. This hydrangea provides four season interest with deep mahogany-red leaves in the fall and exfoliating bark in winter.

Limelight Hydrangea, Shrub

Panicle Hydrangea

One of the last hydrangeas to bloom each summer, gardeners prize panicle hydrangeas for their gracefully arching branches and clusters of white flowers.

Our picks

  • ‘Pee Gee’ – This cultivar features prolific, showy blooms and can grow very large – 10-20 feet in height and width. Sometimes it can be trained into a small tree.
  • ‘Tardiva’ – This recent introduction flowers late, in August and September
  • ‘Limelight’ and ‘Little Lime’ – These compact cultivars feature unique light green blooms.
  • ‘Vanilla Strawberry’ and ‘Strawberry Sunday’ – The flowers mature to a strawberry color.

Caring for your hydrangea

Selecting the right location will make growing beautiful hydrangeas that much easier. They thrive in partial sun and moist, well-drained soil. Morning sun and afternoon shade with good air circulation is idea. Allow enough room for your hydrangeas to grow – 4 ft. by 4 ft. for compact varieties and 6 ft. by 6 ft. for larger varieties.

Mandevilla, Tropical, Annual

Say Hello to Summer with Tropical Plants

Tropicals instantly evoke a sense of serenity with their ability to make us dream of white sand and blue water. This summer, create your own vacation hideaway at home by adding tropical plants to your outdoor living space. If you have a tropical plant already, now is the perfect time to take it outside for the season. Here are a few plants that you can enjoy both inside and out this season.

Boston Fern

Boston Fern

If you are looking for beautiful foliage, look no further than the Boston Fern. This popular fern’s trailing, flat fronds make it an excellent addition to any hanging basket. Native to the forest floors of the tropics, these plants thrive in cool places with high humidity and indirect light. The key to keeping your fern healthy is to keep it moist, mimicking its natural environment as closely as possible. Feed your fern a diluted amount of Jack’s All Purpose fertilizer during the summer, then provide it the standard dose of fertilizer when it goes back inside for the winter. When indoors, keep it away from wood stoves or fireplaces, which dry out the air and deprive your plant of the humidity it loves.

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus Fern

The Asparagus Fern is not actually a true fern, but a member of the lily family. Its trailing foliage is perfect for containers and hanging baskets. This fern’s needle-like fronds and produce white flowers and red berries when situated in ideal conditions. Just like the Boston Fern, keep this fern moist to keep it happy and place it far away from your fireplace or wood stove during the cool months! Feed it a diluted amount of all purpose fertilizer during the summer to help its foliage show better and then the recommended amount when your fern goes back inside for the winter.

Citrus Plants

Lemon Tree

Keep a slice of tropical paradise in your home with a potted citrus plant. Fragrant flowers and delicious fruit we all love make this plant is one that will delight all year. There are many varieties of citrus fruits, though the most popular ones are lemons (Meyer and Ponderosa varieties), limes, and oranges. Bring your citrus plant outside for the summer to provide your plant with more sun and to allow for pollination. The best month to transition your plant outdoors is May, and the best time to bring it back inside is toward the end of September. Let the plant slowly acclimate to the new light and the space when transitioning indoors and out. To encourage health and beauty in your plants, fertilize every 7-10 days with a citrus fertilizer like Jack’s Citrus Feed.

Medinillas

Medinilla

Native to the Philippines, medinilla has been prized as an exotic houseplant by European nobility for hundreds of years! This tropical features dramatic, drooping pink blooms that last about 3 months, and a grape-like cluster of lavender flowers which bloom for a shorter time. When caring for your medinilla, water it well all the way down to the bottom of the pot and then let it dry ¾ of the way before watering again. Check regularly to find out how long this takes. These plants enjoy at least 4 hours of sun each day, but dislikes direct light.

Mandevillas

Mandevilla

Mandevillas with their stunning pinwheel shaped flowers provide vibrant color year round. Native to the southwestern United States and Central America, they come in many wonderful colors as well as night illuminating whites. They are easy to care for, thriving in bright, indirect or filtered sunlight. Give your plant  a balanced, high phosphorus fertilizer (20-20-20 or Osmocote) once every two weeks in the summer to boost the blooms. It is a vine, so give it a trellis to climb up as it grows!

Creating a Garden-Fresh Arrangement

Peg Bier, Merrifield Plant Specialist

The windowsill in my kitchen was always adorned with a love bouquet—a gathering of flowers picked from my garden and delivered slightly crushed by the small, loving hands of my children and grandchildren. Today one of my greatest joys is a walk through the garden with scissors in hand discovering unexpected treasures that combine into a beautiful arrangement.

Like anything, there are techniques you can use to create these arrangements. But what I’ve learned over the years is that the most important thing is to just do it! If it brings you joy and happiness, that’s all that matters.

Here are a few steps you can follow to design a fresh arrangement with materials from your garden.

Step One: Source Your Container

Select a vessel to use as your container. Don’t worry if you don’t have a collection of pots laying around, a water pitcher or small bucket can work great! Prep your container by cleaning it thoroughly and placing a pin holder in the bottom or taping off a support grid with waterproof tape. Once your support is secure, add fresh, cool water and floral preservative.

Garden-fresh-arrangements-1

Step Two: Select Your Plant Material and Assemble Your Foundation

When you head out to your garden, select a combination of cuttings from plants such as annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, herbs and vegetables to bring in different textures and colors. Aim to pull a mix of three to six materials to vary texture, color and height.

Cut your base plants at varying lengths to build a foundation to support your arrangement. Here we used hydrangea blooms (a shrub) and fennel (a perennial) and varied the placement to alternate textures.

Garden-fresh-arrangements-2

Step Three: Layer in Flowers

Layer your flowers one variety at a time, beginning with the deepest and greatest volume to disperse color throughout the arrangement. Here we layered annual celosia and then brought in pops of color with verbena and rudbeckia.

Garden-fresh-arrangements-3

Garden-fresh-arrangements-4

Step Four: Add Your Focal Point

Finish your arrangement by placing your focal point flowers asymmetrically. In this arrangement, colorful annual zinnias become your focal point and provide the finishing touches.

Garden-fresh-arrangements-5

It really is as simple as that! You can create your own unique display by heading outdoors to your garden today. I hope you enjoy the process as much as the final result!