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New and Underused Shrubs and Vines

Our woodies buyer, Miri Talabac, shared her favorite new and (mostly) underused shrubs and vines with customers recently, and they were so helpful, we decided to share them with readers of our website.  Our blogger Susan Harris has added some of her own thoughts on some of these great plants.


The ‘Marshy Point’ varieties have blooms in two different colors.


I ditto Miri’s wish to see more deciduous azaleas in our area.   My neighbors have that orange and it’s scrumptious!  Several are native to our region.


Caryopteris are one of my favorite shrubs, and they bloom late in the season when not much else is blooming.  They’re deer-resistant but favorites of  butterflies and bees.  Also, topping off at about 3 feet, they’re a great size for smaller gardens.  The new variety on the left has gold leaves, so make a good show all season long, whether in bloom or not.


I’m determined to add a flowering quince to my garden this year.  There are thornless types available, and some that bloom more than once.


This one’s unknown to me but it has my attention.


I’ve brown a beautyberry in my curbside garden for years and passersby on foot or in cars stop and ask me about it.  Show-stopping!  I pair it with Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ because they bloom at the same time.



Miri says these Edgeworthias are really fragrant.  Their blooms are orange or yellow.


For drama, you can’t beat hardy bananas.  And in our region they can stay in the ground all winter, with a little mulching over.  They do need full sun, though.




Butterfly bushes are now available in a variety of sizes, including some that are as short as 1-2 feet tall, and some are sterile, so won’t produce seedlings.


Note that the ‘Bloomerang’ variety is so named because it blooms repeatedly.  They’re also super-resistant to mildew – yay.   More great disease-resistant varieties include the cutleaf lilac  and older dwarves like ‘Miss Kim’, ‘Tinkerbelle’, ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ and ‘Sweet Treat’.   ‘Sweet Treat’ is an improved ‘Miss Kim’, in the sense that it is even more disease-resistant.



Fothergillas are happiest in the part shade of woodland edges, so perfect for sun-challenged gardens.



Loropetalums have fabulous color, and they’re evergreen. That’s right, evergreens that flower like crazy in part shade. Also, plenty of small-size options that grow no taller than 3 feet.  Miri says they’ve “exploded onto the market” and they’re certainly on my to-buy list.


Deer don’t bother Enkianthus.  (Okay, unless they’re starving.  So let’s say they’re deer-resistant.)


Leucothoe is a beloved evergreen shrub for shade in our region.  Most gardeners ignore its unappetizing common name.  They’re also usually ignored by deer – the ones in my deer-infested woods were never even nibbled at.


There are sooo many great holly varieties on the market these days.   I recently bought some ‘Blue Prince’ and ‘Blue Maid’ for screening.  They’re fast-growing to about 10 feet tall.

This ‘Cherry Bomb’ is spineless, and self-pollinating, so you don’t need more than one.  The ‘Castle Spire’ and ‘Castle Wall’ are a terrific size for small gardens, just 8? by 3?.


They’re native to our region and delicious.




Another native, edible shrub that’s becoming very popular lately.  Miri says they’re selling so fast, she can hardly keep them in stock.  Oh, and they’re deer-repellent.


Another native tree that’s perfect for suburban and urban gardens.  Gorgeous right now, in full flower.



Cryptomeria is my absolute favorite conifer, and I recently bought three ‘Yoshinos’ for fast screening.  They’re soft to the touch.




My second favorite conifer is anything in the pine family.  Also soft to the touch.


Arizona Cypress is very deer-resistant.



And here’s my favorite vine.  Native to our area, evergreen, and blooms like crazy.  I recently bought one to hide most of a storage shed, which it will do all year.


Posted by Susan Harris.

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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