There have been times when I feel like I might scream if somebody asks for another Indian Hawthorn, Red Tip or Ligustrum. Let’s face it, the old standby’s are capital B…BORING! I understand, the builder put them in and one died or the previous owner wanted low maintenance, but dang it, there are plants out there that are amazing! Plants that bloom all the time, don’t need much pruning and are evergreen. How about plants that smell amazing or draw in the hummingbirds. Your yard can be the one that stops traffic…the one that the neighbors talk about (in a good way). Here are a few plants that you won’t see everywhere (like Dwarf Yaupon).
Ixora are really versatile, they can be grown in full sun to near full shade. At most, mine get dappled sun most of the day and they still bloom. Full sun makes them absolutely covered in flowers with tight foliage. More shade and the foliage will be looser. After establishment, they are drought tolerant. The only draw back…they can suffer from frost damage, just throwing a frost cloth over them will end that. They can freeze to the ground at 30° (but pop back from that) and are dead at 20°…which we don’t get often. The come in red/orange, yellow and pink (which is the least hardy).
GRRR…why won’t this line up???
A terrific trio
Combine winter hardiness, 8+ months of flowering, fragrance, no pests, tolerant of full sun to part shade… into one plant then say it comes in different colors and we have a winner named Cestrum. The most common one is Night Blooming Jasmine. It’s not big on a showy flower, but packs a wallop is a fragrance to your garden at night. If you have one, your neighbors will be wondering where that amazing smell is coming from. If the wind is blowing just right, the people on the next street will be wondering too. Do not plant more than one, unless you have a HUGE yard and don’t plant it under a window you like to keep open, the fragrance can be over powering to some people. Plant it in a corner and just let it do its thing. It can grow to be over 8 foot tall, but pruning does not affect the flowering…wack away as needed, which is a great way to deal with stress.
Next up is Yellow Cestrum. Not as strong-smelling as NBJ (above), but attracts bees, butterflies and birds. This one also can grow over 8 feet tall, but will be fine if you prune it to keep it smaller.
Last but not least, is Red Cestrum (Cestrum newellii). It has a fuzzy leaf and Hummingbirds love it. It also makes an excellent cut flower. The ones here at the nursery are not blooming yet, so visit https://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/711/newell-cestrum.php for great pictures and more info.
This is one of my favorite tender perennials! It’s pronounced “able-mo-shus” and I wish this great little plant had a great common name. Abelmoschus is very closely related to okra, both are in the hibiscus family. Abelmoschus comes in a pink(ish) and a red form and grow up to 2 feet tall. They only become available when it really starts getting hot and grow quickly. Plant them in full sun, once established, they are drought tolerant. The seed pods look like fat, little okra, so collect some dried seed pods in the fall for next years crop.