Shrubs. How to pick a shrub that will thrive in our area? It can be a difficult task when you are at a nursery with thousands of choices for the open spaces of your landscape. Some people might say that they don't even know the real difference between a tree and a shrub when looking at a plant in your local garden center. Well, size alone doesn't reliably distinguish trees and shrubs. Better distinguishing characteristics include aspect and use. One description of shrubs that seems obvious, but is helpful is from Sunset Western Garden. Sunset describes shrubs as "carrying their foliage to ground level, revealing little or none of their branch framework." Esentially, a tree, you can walk under, while a shrub you must walk around. Shrubs are the skeleton of your landscape and provide a transition between tree canopy and ground level. Shrubs don't have to be boring. They can provide visual interest in their foliage and their flowers and fruits.
When choosing a shrub, it is a good idea to think about several key components:
1. Sun requirements.
There are shade loving shrubs, sun loving shrubs, and those in between. To encourage the shrub's survival, make sure you know the sun or shade hours of the area you are planting.
2. Deciduous or evergreen.
Deciduous means it will lose its leaves, and evergreen, means it will keep foliage all year. We have several suggestions for all types of shrubs, but our blog post today will focus on evergreen shrubs.
There are certainly top performing shrubs for our area that you should know about. Some evergreen options with fall interest are as follows; Arbutus Marina, Camellia Sasanqua, Escallonia, and Plumbago. Our favorite for the area are Camellias. The Camellia Sasanqua 'Yuletide' variety is a classic. The 'Yuletide' variety has a profusion of small, single, bright red flowers on a dense, compact upright plant. The blossoms especially stand out because of the dark green, glossy foliage of the Camellia plant. This shrub is a perfect choice as a colorful hedge or screen, an espallier or a border shrub. It performs best in filtered sun and with regular watering.
As we get closer into Winter there are other evergreen shrubs with Winter interest. Some of those shrubs would be other Camellia varieties, Coleonema (Breath of Heaven), Irish Heather, Winter Daphne, Erica, & Azalea Kurume hybrids to name a few. Winter Daphne is prized for its beautiful rosy pink flowers and has a lovely light fragrance. A wonderful choice against a wall or near a patio or deck where the fragrance can be appreciated.
If you are looking for non-flowering evergreen shrubs, then we have two suggestions that give dynamic foliar interest year around. Both bring graceful texture and color to any garden space and are hardier varieties. First is Nandina 'Filamentosa' which is from the low maintenance Nandina family and is an excellent choice for mass plantings. It is a delicate thread leafed cultivar growing 2'-3' tall. Coprosma 'Karo Red' and 'Tequila Sunrise' are other great evergreen options. The most alluring part of Coprosma is its jewel like foliage-highly glossed and brightly colored in distinct colors each season.
Living in Sacramento, we are fortunate enough to be in a zone where summer daytime temperatures are high, sunshine is almost constant during the growing season, and growing seasons are long. However, it is important to remember that shrubs can be affected by frost damage and some varieties are more tender like: Plumbago, Escallonia, and Coleonema. Anytime the temps are to drop below 40 degrees, frost cloth would be in order. Frost cloth is availalbe in many sizes, but the standard is 10X12 sizes and is available at most garden centers including Green Acres. Frost cloth is more beneficial than using a plastic sheet or a blanket because it allows both light and water to penetrate and is more breathable than the other options mentioned.
Hopefully, you now have greater knowledge about some of our favorites shrubs for the area. Happy planting and please click here to see our locations, browse our website for more information or download our free Planting Guide below!