Joe’s Journal, Spring Edition – Spring Shrub Planting
Spring is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs! Plants purchased from local nurseries are offered as container-grown or dug (ball & burlap) plants. The advantage of container grown and B&B trees and shrubs is that planting can be extended throughout the growing season, which would not otherwise be possible with bare-root plants. What follows are shrubs we have been plantings this spring!
Shrub Plantings This Spring:
- Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)
- Elderberry (Sambucus nigra, ‘Black Lace’)
- Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa, ‘Iroquois Beauty’)
Highbush Blueberry Cultivars (Vaccinium corymbosum)
- Blue Crop
Although highbush blueberries are self-fertile, planting more than one cultivar increases fruit set. Choose varieties that bloom at the same time.
Plant blueberries in acidic soil rich in organic matter. Soils should be moist but well-drained. Plant in full sun or in partial shade. Keep well mulched.
‘Blue Crop’ has attractive dark green foliage that turns red in fall. Blooms late (in May), an advantage in places that experience spring frost. Berries ripen mid-season (mid to late July). Grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide.
‘Duke’ blooms in May, but fruit ripens early (early to mid- June). Grows 5 to 7 feet tall and wide. Yellow-orange fall color.
‘Jersey’ blooms in May, berries ripen mid- to late season (late July). Foliage is dark green turning red in fall. Grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide.
Elderberry (Sambucus spp.)
Plant in full sun to partial shade. It prefers humus-rich, moist soil. Grows 6 to 8 feet high and as wide. Attracts butterflies and birds. Grown for its edible fruit. It spreads by root suckers. Prune in later winter, removing dead or weakened stems, and shorten one-year stems to control size.
‘Black Lace’ is a cultivar of Sambucus nigra, with deeply pigmented cut-leaf foliage. Blooms are pink, berries are blackish-red. Flowers on older wood.
‘Bob Gordon’ a native cultivar of Sambucus canadensis, with large pendant berry clusters. It has high fruit yields, ripening mid-summer. Grows 8 to 10 feet tall and wide.
‘Marge’ is self-fertile, a cross between Sambucus canadensis and S. nigra. Large berries, and vigorous grower. Flowers on old (second-year) wood. Upright, non-suckering habit.
‘Wyldewood’, native S. canadensis flowers have a lemon scent in mid-summer, followed by large clusters of purple berries. May be pruned to the ground in late winter or early spring.
Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
The common name refers to the tartness of the fruit, which is very high in anthocyanins. The specific name melanocarpa is a reference to the dark fruit. Plant in full sun or partial shade. It tolerates a range of soil types, and will grow in moist to boggy soils. Spreads by root suckers. The best fruit production is in full sun.
‘Morton’ (syn. ‘Iroquois Beauty’). Grows 2-3 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide.
How to Plant Container Grown Shrubs
- Dig holes wider than deep – most roots grow within the top 12 inches of soil
- Remove from its container by inverting and giving the shrub a quick jerk
- Slice any circling roots, if pot bound, to encourage new rooting outward for optimal root establishment
- In heavy (clay) soils, plant “proud”, that is 2-4” higher than how it grew in the container
- In well drained soils, plant at the same height as it grew in the container
- When planting on a slope, use the mid-slope to determine the depth to plant
- Backfill soil, firming in place as you go
- Form a bowl around the plant to retain water
- Water in well to settle soil
- Top-dress with 2” of compost
- Mulch with 4” of woodchips
This technique should carry you through planting any kind of spring shrub.
Join us next week when we talk more about pesky diseases of some plants.
~ Signing off for now, Joe