Woody Ornamentals

Soil care for ornamental trees, shrubs, and vines is essentially the same as for fruit and nut tree* You're ing in more expensive plants that can't be moved once they mature, so it pays tot reat them well. Investigat^i potential problems with drainage and pH before you buy plants so you have plenty of time (ideally six month» I or more) to make any corrections. You won't be able to correct drainage after you plant. Also remember thatanjH soli improvement should extend over a large area. When soil is improved in just the planting hole, pampere^V roots won't venture out into the unimproved soil beyond. To encourage roots to venture out, make planting holes! wider at the top than at the bottom and roughen up the si das. ' . J^^^^^H


Most trees, shrubs, and vines aren't heavy feeders, so an annual topdressing of compost will keep them happy. Trees growing in lawns get fed automatically every time you topdress or fertilize the lawn. New transplants may appreciate some fertilizer the first few years, until their root systems grow large enough for them to forage for nutrients.

Heavy Feeders

Some of the flowering ornamentals are heavy feeders, especially hybrids and those bred for abundant blooms or a long season. Feed deciduous types such as roses and clematis when new growth appears in the spring. If they are rebloomers, feed again as each flush of blooms ends to encourage more blooms (but stop by midsummer where winters are cold). Feed flowering evergreens such as azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons immediately after bloom and again in mid- to late summer. If you've built up your soil and are giving these plants compost every year, you'll need less fertilizer than the labels recommend H^M

Good drainage and balanced nutrients will help woody plants survive harsh winters.

Good drainage and balanced nutrients will help woody plants survive harsh winters.

Woody Plant Combinations


Increasing Winter Hardiness ' ' ^j^B

Two soil characteristics can have a great effect on the winter hardiness of trees and shrubs: drainage and nutrient balance. Poor drainage is more apt to kill dormant and evergreen woody plants than temperature extremes. A combination of both is especially deadly.

One nutrient, nitrogen, reduces winter hardiness while another, potassium, increases it. Too much nitrogen causes lush, tender growth that's more easily damaged by cold. If you live where winters are cold or have any trouble with winter hardiness, stop fertilizing all ornamentals (even heavy feeders such as roses) by midsummer. This gives plants plenty of time to harden off tender, new growth before cold temperatures arrive.

Making sure your soil has adequate levels of potassium will improve overall winter hardiness, especially for newly transplanted trees and shrubs. (Phosphorus helps, too.) Unless soil tests show higher than medium levels, add a little greensand as a good slow-release source of this nutrient. You won't need to reapply it for several years. Give new plants a short-term boost with a foliar feeding of liquid seaweed late in the growing season; seaweed can increase winter survival of woody ornamentals.

Watching Soil pH for Acid-Lovers yli^^H

Acid-loving evergreens will be quick to let you know when their nutrient balance is off by developing yellow leaves (chlorosis). The best way to prevent this is to test the soil pH periodically and amend as needed before any symptoms show. Use acidic mulches such as pine needles and acidifying fertilizers to help keep soil acidic.


Woody Ornamentals


Master Gardening Tip mmmmm

Don't Overlook Native Trees and Shrubs

Try to choose ornamentals that prefer the conditions your garden has to offer. You'll be rewarded with better looks, fewer pest problems, and in dry climates you won't have to water as often. If all or part of your yard contains difficult soils, you also won't have to work so hard to change them. When a plant is naturally adapted to your soil and climate, or to very similar conditions elsewhere, it has a head start over plants adapted to different soils and climates.

Books and entire nurseries specializing in native woody plants are much more common now than they were a generation ago. so it's much easier to find information as well as plants. You may be able to get design ideas, as well as information on sources, from public gardens near you.

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Suggested Woody Plants for Various Soil Types

Most shrubs prefer the same evenly moist, relatively fertile, well-drained, slightly acidic soil that other plants like. If got such soil, you can grow many common shrubs (such as roses) that aren't listed here. These are alternatives for more challenging conditions. Ask your Cooperative Extension Service or local landscape professionals about varieties and species particularly suited to your area.

Soil Type I Shrubs


Perennial Vines



Azaleas and rhododendrons (iRhododendron spp.)

Camellias {Camellia spp.)

Enkianthus (Enkianthus campanidatus)

Gardenia (Gardenia jasmi-noides)

Heaths and heathers {Erica, Calluna spp.)

Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica)

Leucothoes {Leucothoe spp.)

Mahonias {Mahonia spp.)

Mexican orange (Choisya ternata)

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Acacias {Acacia spp.) Barberries (.Berberis spp.) Bottlebrushes {Callistemon spp.) Butterfly bushes (Buddleia spp.) Cypress (Cupressus spp.) Daphnes (Daphne spp.) Forsythias (Forsythia spp.) Junipers (Juniperus spp.) Pyracanthas (Pyracantha spp.)

Australian tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum)

Hemlocks {Tsuga spp.)

Magnolias {Magnolia spp.)

Oaks {Quercus spp.)

Pines {Pinns spp.)

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Shadbushes {Amelanchier spp.)

Sourwood (Oxydendron arboreum)

Spruces {Picea spp.)

Stewartias {Stewartia spp.)

Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

Catalpas (Catalpa spp.)

Flowering ash (Fraxinus ornus) (and most ashes)

Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria pamculata)

Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)

Sycamores (Platanus spp,)

Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans)

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)

Clematis (Clematis spp.)

Hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta)

Passionflowers (Passiflora spp.)


American arborvitae (Thuja occidental is)

American elder (Sambucus canadensis)

Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus)

Chokeberry (Aroma arbutifolia)

Clethra (Clethra alnifblto)

Cranberry (Vacamum macrocar-poti)

Red cap eucalyptus (Eucalyptus erythrocorys)

Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea)

Salal (Gaultheria shalion)

Spice bush (Lindera benzoin)

Many viburnums (Viburnum spp.)

Winterberry (Hex verticillata)

Bush cinquefoils (Potentilla spp.) Cotoneasters (<Cotoneaster spp.) Junipers (Juniperus spp.) Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos spp.) Oleander (Nerium oleander) Rock roses (Cistus spp.) Most sumacs (Rhus spp.) Warminster broom (Cytisus praecox) Most shrubby herbs

Amur maple (Acer ginnala)

Bayberries (Myrica spp.)

Beauty-bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)

Ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.)

Chinese photinia (Photinia serrulata)

Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum)

Junipers [Juniperus spp.)

Rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa)

Sumacs (Rhus spp.)


Alders (Alnus spp.)

liald cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)

Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

Green ash (Fraxinus pennsyl-vanica)

Larches (Lam spp.)

Pin oak (Quercus palustris)

Poplars (Populus spp.)

Red maple (Acer rubrum)

River birch (Betula nigra)

Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Willows (Salix spp.)

Acacias (Acacia spp.)

Cottonwoods (Populus spp.)

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.)

Japanese pagoda tree (Sophora japonica)

Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)

Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)

Ailanthus (Ailanthus altissima)

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Gray birch (Betula populifolUi)

Japanese black pine (Pinus thufibergiana) Mugho pine (ftnus mugo var. mugo)

Osage-orange (Maclura pomífera) Sassafras (Sassafras aJbidum) Siberian elm (LUmus pumila)

Perennial Vines

Virginia creeper (Parthenonsw quinquifolia)

Crimson glory vine (Vitis cbignetiae)

English ivy (Hedera helix) Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans)

Wisterias (once established) (Wisteria spp.)

English ivy (Hedera helix) Grapes (Vitis spp.) Persian ivy (Hedera colchica)

  • adequate drainage
  • J f)fonts may need regular watering until established

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