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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, July 21, 2018 1:00 am

Add color for late in summer

Ricky Kemery

Question: My landscape is not as vibrant as it was earlier in the season. What shrubs or trees can I add for additional summer interest?

Answer: Finding plants that flower during the summer can be tough. One of my favorite summer flowering shrubs is panicle hydrangea. These shrubs can provide fantastic summer flowering interest. Panicle hydrangeas don't require the fuss that many fancy hydrangeas like mopheads and lace caps require. The spear-shaped flowers are large and numerous.

Panicles are cold hardy, and since they flower on new wood, just require a shearing in the spring to 12-24 inches in height. “Pink Diamond' is one of my favorites. “Limelight” is a large shrub with lime green to white flowers. “Quickfire” is a newer selection with reddish to white flowers.

Historic homes could use “Annabelle” hydrangea. Its large white round flowers are great for fresh and dried arrangements. This native hydrangea was commonly used in the early 1900s by homeowners.

Bluebeard (Caryopteris sp.) is a small shrub that butterflies absolutely adore. The deep blue flowers emerge in late summer and keep right on blooming through fall.

Kerria (Kerria japonica) is a medium-sized shrub that reaches 4-6 foot in height. This shade preferring shrub produces yellow clusters of single or double flowers from June through October.

Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) takes a while to establish; but eventually develops into a large shrub (8 feet in width by 8 feet in height) that is covered with white bottlebrush shaped flowers in July.

Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) often can struggle in northern Indiana landscapes. They must be planted in a sheltered area – away from harsh winter and late spring desiccating winds. This smaller tree provides beautiful foliage all season long. Many other Japanese maple cultivars – especially the cut leaf varieties – scorch and wither away in the Midwestern weather.

Another spectacular summer tree is Tricolor beech (Fagus tricolor). This tree can be very difficult to establish. It must be placed perfectly-in an area with moist rich soil – protected against the summer heat and sun. The purple, pink, whitish with green foliage makes this a spectacular specimen tree to show off to friends and neighbors.

Indiana University graduates would recognize a Golden Rain tree (Koelutaria paniculata). Several large specimens exist on the Indiana University campus. This tree is covered by large yellow flower clusters in August. The tree also produces interesting seed pod clusters that persist into the fall. The tree can produce seedlings near the tree. Since the tree is so rare, dig up the small trees and give them to a friend or neighbor.

Many of my favorite summer-flowering shrubs and tree can be difficult to find in the trades. Sometimes one might have to utilize the internet to find unusual summer flowering trees and shrubs. Some local nurseries can special order unusual trees and shrubs.

The Plant Medic, written by Ricky Kemery, appears every other Saturday. Kemery retired as the extension educator for horticulture at the Allen County branch of the Purdue Extension Service.