DISCOVER SOME OF THE BEST PLANTS FOR LONG ISLAND GARDENS
Stewartia is summer flowering tree and a multi-seasonal plant with four seasons of interest, interesting bark, fall color and flowers. Any time you have multiple seasons of interest, it’s a good thing. Stewartia will take sun or shade, once established, and it doesn’t get too big. It’s nice for a residential landscape.
SUMMERSWEET CLETHRA ALNIFOLIA
This native shrub will adapt to most situations — sun, shade, wet soil, dry soil. It’s sweetly fragrant flowers bloom in August in either pink or white, depending on the variety. It’s also very good for pollinators and good for birds. They, too, have multiple seasons of interest, with flowers, green foliage in summer, fragrance and yellow foliage in fall. They are extremely adaptable and work well with perennials, shrubs and trees, and as foundation plantings or in perennial borders.
Flowering dogwood can be an underrated native. The whole key to growing American dogwood is site: They need air circulation and light; I recommend an eastern exposure for morning sunlight and afternoon shade. They like high shade and don’t like to be crowded in. Flowering dogwood is another four-season plant, and it’s an important one for birds and pollinators.
WINTERBERRY HOLLY “Winter Gold”
Winter Gold stands out from a distance and is easy to grow. It’s not deer-resistant, though. It’s easily found in the wild uneaten by deer, but in a garden setting, it seems to attract them, at least in the summer. Winterberry holly thrives “best in part sun or full sun conditions, can handle wet or dry soil and is very adaptable to soil fertility. It grows in swamps as well as dry, sandy situations, too. I can grow in deep shade but will not get berries. There are male and female plants, and to get fruit at least one male pollinator must be planted for every 10 female Winter golds.
This nonnative is beautiful all year round, but it needs a protected spot, especially from winter winds. It’s available from mail order, but you do see it in garden centers now and then. The early spring bloomer is “very fragrant” with beautiful sculptural form and color. Its branches are golden, rusty brown. It stands out and quite striking. This large shrub, tops out at 6-7 feet. Edgeworthia also has “gorgeous foliage” and is a great four-season plant. It’s good for a part shade-part sun situation. It prefers a good, rich soil, adequate moisture and would not like a drought or hot, dry, sunny condition.
Hollies are great and If you don’t have a deer problem, there are many you can grow. But the great thing about the American native holly is the deer don’t bother it. American Holly does grow wild but can be difficult to find in a retail garden center. It can take some shade but can also grow in full sun. It’s slow-growing but ultimately can get to be 15 feet tall or more, so you have to give it more room. It is very adaptable wet or dry, and would prefer sandy soil over heavy clay soil.
It’s a native fern and is deer-resistant. It has an ethereal, airy quality with delicate green ferns on black stems. Other plants can grow up through it — especially bulbs. It’s a great companion for anything in the plants garden. It does well with bleeding hearts and anemones. This fern will take anything but sunlight and likes moist, well-drained soil.
If winters are mild hellebores may go from one season to the next. They can take dry shade. The foliage is nice; it’s clean and green and strong, and is a staple for the shade garden. They also make beautiful cut flowers and are deer-resistant. It is recommended to growing Hellebores with ferns, especially maidenhair, Epimedium (barrenwort), cinnamon fern and Anemone, especially ‘Honorine Jobert,’ which is a beautiful white, late-flowering plant
Brightly colored butterfly weed is a butterfly magnet, attracting many kinds of butterflies to its colorful blooms. Monarch butterfly larvae feed on its leaves but seldom harm this native plant. It is slow to emerge in the spring, so mark its location to avoid accidental digging before new growth starts. If you don’t want it to spread, deadhead faded blooms before seedpods mature. It is sometimes called milkweed because it produces a milky sap when cut.
Goldenrods are very common wildflowers throughout New York and North America. It is difficult to describe only one, because there are over 50 species of Goldenrod in North America and most of them are very similar and hard to tell apart. All Goldenrods are late bloomers, flowering in late Summer into the Fall. Most species have spectacular displays of bright yellow flowers. Flowers are clustered on long stalks. Most Goldenrods have long, narrow leaves. Some species’ leaves have smooth edges and some are toothed.
JOE PYE WEED
Joe Pye Weed is a very tall plant, up to 6′ in the best sun/soil conditions, but strong stems support the flowering plant so it rarely needs to be staked. These attractive stems are almost the same color as the dusty rose-colored flowers, which will bloom for many weeks in July and August, becoming absolute magnets for dozens of species of butterflies. Also called Spotted Joe Pye Weed, it is best planted in full to almost-full sun and rich, moist soils. It will spread so should be planted with caution in small landscape situations.
Fast-growing deciduous shrubs, beautyberries grow 4 to 8 feet tall and wide. Plant them in a natural woodland setting under tall shade trees or as an informal hedge along the perimeter of a property. Beautyberries have small, lavender-pink, lilac-like flowers in spring, followed by vivid purple or white berries in fall. The berries attract birds, as well as provide winter color. Although the berries are edible, they aren’t the most desired food of birds and often hang on the bush into late winter. The foliage turns an attractive yellow in fall.
Traditionally, Coleus have been terrific foliage plants for shade, but many of the new varieties are also quite tolerant of sun. Variations in light intensity can have a dramatic impact on leaf color and plant size. Their diversity of foliage color, leaf shape, and growth habit make Coleus a valuable container and bedding plant, especially in shade where summer color is scarce. All Coleus prefer evenly moist garden soil. Where the growing season is long, pinch the tips of the stems regularly to encourage branching and compact growth. If you grow Coleus in containers, we recommend that you incorporate a timed-release fertilizer at planting time.
At home in full sun or partial shade, in beds or containers, and by itself or combined with annuals and perennials, the BIG™ Series of begonias make a great addition to your garden. upright habit and well-branched stems that hold large, 2–3″ blooms above the leaves. An absolute knockout for summer color, and you’ll want to bring this one indoors for the winter, too. The genus Begonia offers some outstanding plants for foliage. They need bright, indirect light, well-drained soil, at least 50% humidity, and warm temperatures to be at their best. During the summers, they become one of the most stylish and exciting plants for a shady container.
BADA BING BEGONIAS
“Bada Bing” is a series of sun-tolerant wax begonias that bloom profusely from spring until the first frost of fall. The plants are available in a variety of colors, including white and shades of pink, scarlet and rose. “Bada Bing” begonias are compact plants suitable for planting in patio containers, hanging baskets, mass plantings or borders. Although the plants are often grown as annuals, “Bada Bing” begonias are perennial in plant hardiness zones 9 through 11.
The Encore azalea is a new series that blooms three times a year, with nice, large flowers. The first bloom is the heaviest. The second one is not as floriferous, but it’s still a nice show. And the third bloom is in late fall, and still it surprisingly still shows. Encore azaleas are available in different pinks, lavender, magenta and white. And it likes sun to shade. it goes well with Clethra.
Native to the Pine Barrens region, stiff aster thrives in a sandy habitat. It’s a somewhat low-growing, semi-evergreen aster that has beautiful nickel-sized flowers that bloom on a small shrub that’s really an herbaceous plant. Its foliage feels like sandpaper, and it has beautiful color, shape and texture that you can see and also feel.
PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS
Prickly Pear cactus is the only native cactus to Long Island. It produces a beautiful red, small fruit, you can use it to make jams and jellies, but you have to earn it because it’s full of seeds and it’s prickly. It grows on the dunes in really hot, sandy, dry sites, and doesn’t like to be cared for, so a lot of people like to put it near their mailboxes or where other things won’t grow. Also, it’s really good for planting in areas where you don’t want people to go; it’s a good plant to naturally redirect people.
AMELANCHIER (aka SHADBUSH)
Amelanchier is a woodland genus of shrubs and small trees, many with suckering growths creating small colonies. Their star-shaped, flat to saucer shaped flowers are usually white with some pink blushing. Leaves turn a nice yellow-orange in fall and are accompanied by fruit that ripens in summer and is edible in some species. Birds will feast on the berries if not picked soon after ripening.