Tag Archive for: Asheville Nursery

4 of Our Least Favorite Perennials in Asheville (2023)

 

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1. Stachys byzantina (Lambs Ear.) Admittedly, Lambs ear has some appeal. It’s easy to grow, spreads fast, and takes any soil or full sun slope you throw at it. If only it looked as good in the landscape as it does in a pot at the nursery. It tends to flower and rot up if we get a lot of moisture, leaving you with a patch of rotting foliage with lackluster flowers jutting out of it. The spreading factor can also be a double-edged sword, with it popping up in areas you don’t want it to. If you need groundcover there are better options, and if you want flowers there are much better options.asheville perennials, asheville flowers, wnc perennial flowers, wnc native flowers

2. Helenium  (sneezeweed). This flower may be a case of user error because it doesn’t seem to do well for us in pots. It’s been a frustrating plant to grow, with blooms that aren’t bad but are outshone by other species like echinacea or aster.

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3. Solidago (goldenrod). If you like goldenrod the best thing to do is probably to ask a neighbor with a pasture to dig some up. This stuff is everywhere. Lanky, scraggly, and all over the place in Western North Carolina. It’s easy to grow, we’ll give it that.

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4. Eutrochium fistulosum (Joe Pye Weed.) This might be the most controversial native Asheville perennial on this list. It has a lot of fans and is a decent draw for pollinators like butterflies. We find it leggy and blah as a flower, and even a bit underwhelming for us in the pollinator category. We had it in a patch next to some Agastache and the Agastache won hands down for the bees. To attract butterflies we much prefer milkweed, gaura, or butterfly bushes.

Conclusion

So there you have it, four of our least favorite Asheville perennials for the 2023 season. With a few exceptions, we find it best to avoid plants with the word weed in their name, they tend to get that for a reason. Do you disagree or have a cultivar to recommend? Drop it in the comments or let us know in an email. We’d love to change our minds!

“The best time to prune is when you remember to do it.”

That saying is basically true, particularly for large woody plants that have been in the ground for a few years. That’s because most of us forget to prune until branches are slapping us in the face when we mow.

The best time for plants is winter/early spring before they begin to leaf out for the season. It’s December now in Asheville and we’ve had a couple of hard freezes (27 or lower), so the leaves have fallen off of most deciduous plants. At this time of year, it’s definitely time to prune whenever you get motivated to do it.

Single-stem trees are probably the trickiest plants to prune, it’s a bit of an art and a science. If you keep a few things in mind, and get a few under your belt, it’s not so daunting. Here are 3 basic tips for pruning trees the first year or two after planting.

  1. Cut off branches growing lower than 2′ at minimum.  3′ is probably even better if it is a medium to large tree. This keeps things tidy and clean at the base.
  2. Thin out congested areas by cutting away a few of the smaller branches to create space.  This will depend on the size and type of tree.  Some species, like the cherry in the video below, tend to put on a lot of new growth in the season and need heavier thinning.
  3. Cut away small branches that are crossing (or about to cross), growing in towards the center, or growing down towards the ground. You are looking to create an open, vase-like shape to encourage airflow.

If you are interested in learning more about pruning,  “The Pruning Book” by Lee Reich is an excellent resource. Youtube is full of great videos on the subject as well, though not so much this one:

Shrubs are the backbone of the garden, with evergreens providing the base and deciduous flowers the pizazz.  Here are some of our favorite deciduous shrubs we’ve grown this year.  These are in no particular order and were chosen based on three criteria:  Beauty, usefulness in the landscape, and ease of growth for zones 6-7 in Western North Carolina.  This area is known for its diverse plant life, heavy clay soil, and yo yo spring weather.

Be sure to check out our other lists as we look back on our favorite plants of the 2023 season!

1. Buddleia, Miss Molly

Breeding of butterfly bushes has come a long way.  Most of the newer varieties have a much better growth habit than the older, wilder varieties and don’t self-seed all over the place.  You can now enjoy these very long blooming plants almost anywhere you like in the landscape.  Miss Molly barely edges out the Pugster series because of the beautiful Fuschia blooms and almost as compact of a growth habit.  If you want something even more dwarf, look to the Pugster series, also from Proven Winners.  We’ll be growing a lot of these in 2024!

2. Callicarpa X, Pearl Glam

Pearl Glam is an improvement in almost every way to American beautyberry.  We love its dark foliage, which keeps it interesting from the minute it wakes up in spring.  Long blooming in the summer, then beautiful berries in fall.  It’s also much more compact, growing just 6′ or so, and easily pruned if needed.

3. Calycanthus X, Aphrodite

Like Pearl Glam above, Aphrodite is a big improvement over the straight native species.  The blooms are much larger and it just keeps on re-blooming well into summer.  We haven’t noticed much scent on this one, but it’s a beauty, and a fast grower too!

4. Hydrangea paniculata, Little Quick Fire

We love panicle hydrangeas of all kinds for growing around Asheville, NC.  They bloom late spring to fall on new wood and don’t seem to be bothered by much of anything except the occasional deer.  Little Quick Fire is an interesting variety out of the many on the market today.  The blooms aren’t as big and showy individually, but it’s unique to the species as they have a nice bronze/yellow fall color.  It won us over this year.

5. Hydrangea arborescens, Incrediball Blush

Native hydrangea arborescens are often thought of as ‘snowball bush’ down here in the South.  We especially like Incrediball, and this one, Incrediball blush.

6. Clethra, Ruby Spice

Clethra is a great native plant that’s easy to grow, versatile, and doesn’t take over your garden.  Fragrant summer blooms that the pollinators love and brilliant yellow fall color too!

Illicium, Star Power Scorpio

7. Illicium, Star Power Scorpio

A fantastic shrub for shade.  Illicium is normally a little touchy here because of the cold, but the Star Power series was bred to be hardy down to zone 6.  If you have a lot of deer, or tougher areas with a lot of moisture, Star Power Scorpio would be an excellent choice.

Don’t forget to check out our other 2023 favorites!

Oh, and an honorable mention, Fizzy Mizzy Itea.  This is a really cool breakthrough for our native sweetspire, with a compact habit and blooms that stand up above the plant.  We are looking forward to growing more of that one.

 

Here are ten tips for planting fruit trees in Asheville and Western North Carolina.  Although our climate is excellent for growing many types of fruit trees and shrubs, there are quite a few challenges involved.  We have a lot of disease pressure, spring is a yo-yo with the weather, and the soil is about as heavy as it gets.  That said, this area grows a lot of fruit, especially apples.

If you haven’t made the trip to some of the orchards around Hendersonville, do yourself a favor this fall and check it out.  They produce some of the best apples I’ve ever had.  I’m always sad when the last one is gone and I have to start buying grocery store apples again.

Henderson County is the number one apple producer in the state, producing 85% of the apples grown in NC and over $22 million annually in sales*.  The apple festival in Hendersonville every year is so packed that it’s hard to move in the streets. Even the kinds you think you don’t like so much are fantastic when you get them in season straight from a local orchard.

Even more fantastic is going out the back door and picking them straight from your own trees.

Here are 10 things you should know before planting fruit trees in Asheville and WNC:

  1. Standard rules apply as for growing most other things, only more so.  Fruit trees like lots of sun, rich, well-draining soil, and space for air to circulate freely.  This probably means that you need to amend and break up your soil when you plant, keep it mulched, and prune your trees yearly.
  2. If you buy bare-root, plant them in mid to late spring after the danger of a hard freeze has passed.  For container-grown plants you can plant anytime from fall to spring.  Avoid the summer, when the heat can stress them.
  3. Be very careful about online shopping, especially if it seems like a deal.  Shipping soil gets very expensive, so if it’s not, that means not many roots.  Not good.  Best case scenario is that you have to wait to get fruit for 3-5 years.
  4. Look for disease-resistant rootstocks and varieties.  Geneva rootstock tends to be resistant to fireblight, the worst nasty for apple trees. Geneva rootstock will give your roots some protection, but you still have to keep an eye on the tree and cut out those areas if necessary.  Best case for apples is a resistant variety on Geneva rootstock, like Empire or Liberty.
  5. Pay attention to growers in your area.  If they are growing a type of tree most likely you’ll be able to grow it too.
  6. Watch out for Junipers!  Upright Junipers (native red cedar) host cedar-apple fungus, which requires both apple (or another plant in the rosacea family) and a Juniper to complete its life cycle.  If possible, keep your apples a few hundred yards away from any upright Junipers.
  7. If you want some extra insurance against the nasties, spray with a fungicide, especially the first season or two while it’s getting established.  Immunox is the easiest to use and most available to homeowners.  Start with the program right at bud break in March/Early April and follow the instructions for your particular plant.
  8. Look for later flowering varieties, especially if you are up in the higher elevations.  Those late frosts can really hurt your feelings.
  9. Fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer in early spring.  Slow-release is much more expensive, but it’s by far the safest, easiest way to make sure your plants get enough nutrients the entire growing season.
  10. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  If your livelihood doesn’t depend on your trees and fruit being picture-perfect, don’t worry too much about a blemish here and there. Most of the issues that pop up don’t do lasting damage to the tree.  The biggest issue is usually a late frost, which you can’t do much about anyway.  If the frost gets those flowers, remember that at least the plant gets to put more of its energy into getting nice and established for the next year.

Conclusion:

Fruit trees and shrubs take a little extra effort to thrive in Asheville, but it’s well worth it.  Choose disease-resistant varieties if possible (especially fireblight), site them well, and give them lots of love at planting time.

Fruit plants are an investment.  Don’t spend all that money on plants and then skimp on the soil amendments and effort to plant it right.  Use a soil conditioner to break up the soil nice and wide around the plant, sprinkle a little fertilizer all around the canopy (if it’s in spring), and tuck it in with at least 3” of a good fine bark mulch.

*Henderson County Chamber of Commerce

For a handy dandy chart on apple diseases;  click here.

We get two big fruit deliveries from Central TN, the nursery capital of the US- one in spring and one in fall.  Click here to see our current inventory.