Green Ribbon Native Plant® - Shrubs

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2003 - Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

The oakleaf hydrangea is a deciduous, mound-forming shrub that grows to a height of 4 to 8 feet with a wider spread.  This coarse, irregular plant provides all-season interest.  In summer it has large panicles of white flowers that turn pinkish and eventually tan as the season extends into autumn.  Plants that get plenty of sun will turn red to purple in autumn and, in winter the cinnamon-colored, exfoliating bark stands out against the stark landscape.  With proper placement in shrub borders, mass plantings, or as foundation plants, the oakleaf hydrangea will become a favorite in any garden. 

Oakleaf hydrangeas prefer moist, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade.  They are susceptible to deer damage despite the toxicity of many of the parts of the plant.

2004 - Pinxterbloom Azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides)

The pinxterbloom azalea is a native, deciduous azalea that occurs naturally here at the Arboretum.  These shrubs spread via underground stems and can grow to be 8-10 feet tall.  They are extremely adaptable, growing in partial to full shade and in a variety of soil conditions from dry, sandy soils to moist stream banks.  The pinxterbloom is most attractive in the spring, when it is adorned with trusses of 6-12 narrow, fragrant, white to pink flowers. 

To see the Arboretum’s collection of pinxterbloom azaleas, follow the Woodland Walk in early May when they are at their peak.

2005 - Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)

One of the few deciduous hollies, winterberry holly produces an abundance of persistent red berries that provide a splash of color throughout winter. 
Commonly found in both wooded areas and swampy areas, this holly will grow 6 to 10 feet tall in an upright, spreading manner.  They grow best in moist, poorly-drained soils and in full sun to partial shade, though plants in sunny areas produce more berries.  These berries only form on female plants and require male plants for pollination.  So for best results, be sure to plant a male nearby.

Winterberry hollies are great plants for massing in wet soils or prominently along borders where the berries can be viewed during the winter. They are easy to maintain and have few insect and disease problems.

2006 - Dwarf Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)

Dwarf fothergilla, a member of the witch hazel family (Hamamelidaceae), is a hardy plant native to the coastal plains.   In the wild, it is often found around bogs or ponds and has interesting features through three seasons of the year.  In spring, it has fragrant, white, bottlebrush-like flowers that bloom in April and May.  After the flowers appear, the dark green to blue-green summer leaves emerge.  Autumn might be the peak season for the dwarf fothergilla as the leaves change to red, orange, maroon or yellow, often all on the same plant!

It is a multi-stemmed, suckering, thicket-forming shrub that grows only 3 to 5 feet tall, a trait that makes it perfect for grouping.  Fothergillas are slow growing and require little pruning. They prefer moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils and have the best flowers and fall color when planted in sunny locations.

2007 - Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

The Virginia sweetspire is a deciduous to semi-evergreen, 3 to 5 foot tall shrub commonly found in swamps, wet woodlands and along woodland streams of eastern North America.
It has slightly fragrant white flowers in May when few other plants are flowering.  Its medium to dark green summer leaves change to yellow, orange, reddish purple, scarlet, and crimson in autumn.

Sweetspire grows best in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist, fertile soils where it spreads to form a mass.  It also tolerates drought and is adaptable to different pH levels.

2008 - Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)

The bottlebrush buckeye is a wide-spreading, suckering, multi-stemmed shrub making it an excellent plant for shrub borders.  With its long, bottlebrush-like panicles of white flowers, there are few summer flowering plants which can rival this species.

If transplanting, do so in early spring into a moist, well-drained soil that has been adequately prepared with organic matter.  It is best planted in full sun or partial shade and rarely needs pruning.  It prefers acid soil but is adaptable. 

2009 - Strawberry Bush (Euonymus americanus)

The strawberry bush is a fairly uncommon native shrub most noted for its bumpy, raspberry-red seed pods that hang on the ends of the stems and open to reveal smooth, orange seeds.  Other striking features are its green bark and acute branching angles that provides interest throughout the year.  Strawberry bush grows 6 to 8 feet in ten years and its habit is loose and open becoming fuller with pruning and exposure to the sun.  They make wonderful woodland plants as they thrive naturally along shaded streams, in river bottoms or in moist open woods across the eastern U.S.

It has been reported that the bark and fruits are very toxic and should not be eaten.  Despite its potential danger, Native Americans once used the roots to make a tea for stomach and urinary problems.  Wild turkeys, wood thrushes, eastern bluebirds, yellow-rumped warblers, and northern mockingbirds consume and disseminate the seeds.

2010 - Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)

Summersweet is a name that truly conveys the virtues and beauty of this native shrub. This deciduous plant grows to an oval shape with a with a height of 3-8 feet and a spread of 4-6 feet. It features fluffy, bottle-brush like spikes of fragrant white, rose or pink flowers which bloom for 4-6 weeks from mid to late summer and attract a variety of nectar gathering insects. The flower spikes give way to dark brown seed capsules which persist into winter, providing continued interest. It has glossy, dark green leaves which turn a brilliant yellow in the fall.

Summersweet makes an excellent, trouble-free shrub which masses well in planting displays in lawns or shrub borders although it will require regular watering until the plant becomes established. It can be easily grown in moist, acidic soils in full sun to part shade and is recommended most for perennial borders or foundation plantings and works especially well in wet areas such as low spots, stream banks or water edges.

2011 - No selection

2012 - Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

The mountain laurel is an ericaceous evergreen shrub with delicately ornate white to pink flowers. In addition to being one of the harbingers of spring and summer with its late May bloom time, the mountain laurel is Pennsylvania’s official state flower.  These shrubs grow 4-10 feet tall with a typical spread of 4-5 feet. Along with the attractive flowers and evergreen foliage, mountain laurels also have very interesting form with a gnarled trucking pattern and dark bark that can be considered ornamental in its own right. While mountain laurel is an evergreen shrub that provides year-round interest with its form and foliage, it is not densely evergreen, and is typically used more as an accent than a screen.

The native range of the mountain laurel extends across the Eastern United States from Maine to Mississippi. They enjoy rocky, acidic soil that is moist with good drainage, but will also tolerate drier soil. Although wild mountain laurels can be found in the native woodland in large groves that sweep across deeply shaded hillsides, they are not aggressive and will not likely seed around your garden.  Mountain laurels will grow in sun or shade and are fairly low maintenance.  Pruning dead branches and removing old flower heads will give the plant a more tidy appearance, but is not necessary. While many wild birds use Mountain Laurels as a source of food, this plant is poisonous to humans.

2013 - Rosebay Rhododendron
(Rhododendron maximum)

The Rosebay Rhododendron is an evergreen multi-stemmed shrub with dark green foliage and clusters of white flowers. These shrubs grow wild in many mountain habitats where they can form dense thickets that can be up to 30ft tall. A more typical mature landscape size, however, is about 10-15ft tall and 7-10ft wide. The dense growth and evergreen foliage of these rhododendrons make good borders or screens in a landscape. The growing habit is fairly irregular which gives the plant an interesting structure. Because of this unique structure, branches from this plant are often cut and used to make furniture. Rosebay Rhododendrons also have clusters of white to pink flowers that can be made up of as many as 25 flowers, each about 1” across.

Plant this rhododendron in partial to full shade in areas with moist but well-drained soils. While the flowers provide a brief show in spring, the real landscape benefits of the Rosebay Rhododendron can be found in its deep, evergreen foliage creating an ideal backdrop for some of the showier plants in the home landscape.



2014 - Plantainleaf Sedge
(Carex plantaginea)

Plantainleaf or “Seersucker” Sedge is a shade tolerant evergreen ornamental perennial from the Cyperaceae or Sedge family that is valued for its long broad leaves that pucker at the ends like ribbon. Its size ranges from one to two feet and it has a clumping habit. This grass- like woodland plant adds a unique foliage texture to the natural garden or any shade garden. Its native range is from Canada south into Alabama and west to the Mississippi River. It grows best in moist woodland soil that is high in organic matter and in part to full shade.
Hardy to Zone 5, Plantainleaf Sedge is almost always evergreen here in southeastern Pennsylvania. The leaves grow from a basal rosette and can reach a length of 12” with a width of 1 ¼” and have an arching habit. They are bright green, have a prominent midrib down the center and have visible venation. While this plant is grown mostly for its foliage it also has fairly attractive flowers (or inflorescence as they are called on grass-type plants) that bloom in April. The flowers are reddish-purple and appear to float above the brightly colored foliage. This sedge will spread and form colonies in time, but not aggressively. These plants are easily divided and transplanted into other parts of the garden. Along with all its other desirable attributes, this diverse perennial is also deer proof! It is very attractive when planted along paths where it can be appreciated for its striking features. Plantainleaf Sedge makes a wonderful addition to the woodland garden.  




2015 - Chokeberry
(Aronia arbutifolia)

Chokeberry is an attractive multi-stemmed deciduous shrub that maintains great horticultural interest throughout the seasons.  Beautiful corymbs of showy white flowers appear in April, and the leaves change to a bright red color as fall arrives.  The glossy red fruits ripen in the fall and persist well into winter.  These fruits are edible, but so incredibly tart that they may cause you to choke, rightfully earning this shrub’s common name as Chokeberry.  Even the birds wait until it frosts for them to sweeten.  Although it can withstand part shade, plant the Chokeberry in full sun for best fruit production.

Chokeberry is a member of the Rose family and grows from Maine south to Florida, and west to Texas.  It is hardy in zones 4-9, reaching 6-10 feet high while spreading 3-6 feet, developing into a vase shape in maturity.  This shrub tends to sucker and form colonies.  It can tolerate a wide range of soil types and it can withstand relatively wet conditions, as it often grows near wetlands.  Currently there are differences in the accepted scientific names.  The plant is sometimes referred to as Photinia pyrifolia, although here at Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens we accept and use Aronia arbuitfolia as its official name.




2016 - Wild Blue Phlox
(Phlox divaricata)

Wild blue phlox or woodland phlox is a slow-growing herbaceous groundcover belonging to the Phlox plant family Polemoniaceae. At maturity, wild blue phlox can reach 12-18 inches in height and 8-12 inches in spread. The opposite, narrow leaves are slightly pubescent just like the stem. One subtle feature to observe is that the leaf tips tend to be blunt. The flower of P. divaricata blooms April through May. The five petaled flowers are shallowly notched. The flowers of wild blue phlox are cross pollinated by bumblebees, swallowtail butterflies, skippers, and moths.

As the common name implies, woodland phlox is native to the deciduous woods which explains why P. divaricata likes to grow in rich, moist, well-drained, average soils with part sun to light or dappled shade. If planted in dense shade, wild blue phlox will not be as floriferous. And that would be a real shame because the fragrant, lavender flowers attract hummingbirds, too. For more flowers, cut back after the first bloom to allow a second flush of flowers to emerge. Wild blue phlox makes an excellent addition to a naturalized perennial garden or to a rock garden. Wild Blue Phlox does not tolerate drought conditions. Additionally, wild blue phlox can be susceptible to powdery mildew, but moist, well-drained soil and good air flow should be able to prevent the fungus from affecting the plant.






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