6 Bulletproof (and Beautiful) Native Shrubs

Aphrodite sweetshrub, calycanthus, shrubs in Asheville, asheville native shrubs
‘Aphrodite’ Sweetshrub

“Mt. Airy” Fothergilla

Pronounced ‘father gil a’, this is a slow to medium growing shrub that gets 5-6’ tall.  It produces fragrant, white, bottlebrush-shaped flowers in early spring and the leaves turn brilliant colors in the fall.  Loves full sun but will take some shade.  While something nibbled the flowers of one of ours this spring, we haven’t had any other trouble with pests, disease, or grazers the rest of the year.

“Ruby Spice” Clethra

This beautiful plant is covered in fragrant pinkish-red blooms about mid-summer.  A fairly slow-growing, upright, suckering shrub that eventually gets about 8’ tall, Clethra is a great choice for part shade woodland gardens or wet areas, but is adaptable almost anywhere.  The leaves turn yellow in the fall.  Full sun to shade.

“Alice” Oakleaf Hydrangea

This is one of our favorite informal “filler” type shrubs.  Alice grows large (around 8’) and fast and makes the space feel lush and wild.  Large white flowers appear for most of the summer, fading to pink as they age, followed by red fall color on the leaves.  Maybe not the most spectacular in the fall, but they do have good character and some color as the season winds down.  Sometimes the leaves persist well into winter for those of us in the Asheville area.

Deer seem to enjoy the leaves almost as much as we do, so if you get deer you might want to get a more established plant, or just keep your eyes peeled with a large broom.

Also, check out some of the more compact cultivars;  Ruby Slippers and Snow Queen.

“Vernal” Witchhazel

Witchhazel is best known for its odd bloom times, but it’s a great plant almost all year.  The vernal variety (meaning spring), is technically native to the Ozarks, but we like it because it is a little more compact and shrubby than the common witchhazel (8-10’ tall fully grown vs. 15-20 with the common variety) and produces fragrant blooms in late winter/early spring vs. the fall. They are all easy to grow with excellent foliage and yellow fall color.  Nothing seems to faze witchhazel (even deer).  Full sun to part shade.

American Beautyberry

Beautyberry is a member of the mint family, so that should tell you it’s almost impossible to kill.  They produce neat little purple berries in mid to late summer on new wood.  They tend to get leggy so feel free to trim back periodically for a bushier plant.  A great native for slopes.  Full sun to part shade.

Carolina Sweetshrub

This is one of our favorite compact natives.  The leaves look almost tropical at times and they keep a compact, tidy shape without much pruning at all.  Flowers are a fantastic deep red and have an unusual banana-like fragrance, but usually it’s not that strong. ‘Aphrodite’ is a more recent cultivar with bigger leaves and larger flowers that rebloom in the summer.  Sun to shade and resistant to deer too.

For a list of what we have growing this year at the nursery, check out our inventory page!