Here we highlight a few of the more popular native shrubs. Some of these are compact selections, making them suitable for smaller spaces while still providing wildlife and pollinator value.
A sturdy adaptable shrub that tolerates clay and wet sites. Currently in stock is a dwarf form called ‘Tiny Wine’. Dwarf cultivars can be useful in the landscape to provide habitat that otherwise might go missing due to size constraints. Deer resistant and juglans tolerant, it supports pollinators and butterflies. Full sun preferred.
Yes, it’s a native shrub! Some birds, especially hummingbirds, use the fuzz to line their nests. The plant is dioecious, which means there are male and female plants. The male plants have the fuzzy catkins and we have a nice crop of them. It’s early blooms provide one of the first-of-the-season nectar sources for pollinators. The insects, in turn, provide a smorgasbord for songbirds. Pussy willow also hosts several species of butterflies. They prefer full to part sun and tolerate flooding. They are recognized as of special value to native bees.
Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’
Itea provides nectar for bees, pollinators, and butterflies. They closely knit branches and suckering nature provide nesting habitat and protective cover for birds and small wildlife. Can take part sun to full sun, likes moist soil. Itea are deer resistant and drought tolerant and have fragrant flowers and good fall color. Little Henry stays to about 3′.
Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur’
Winterthur grows to only about six feet (the species can get to 20′). Spring blooms, fall color. White flowers spring, pink-purple berries in the fall. The selection “Winterthur’ will have a stronger berry set if you also plant a straight species. Full to part shade, moist to wet soil.
Viburnum trilobum ‘Wentworth’
Provides nectar for many native bees, moths, and pollinators. The berries are eaten by birds late in the winter season. Some people use them in various concoctions, but don’t blame us if it makes your tongue curl! The twigs and leaves are eaten by white-tailed deer. ‘Wentworth’ is a naturally occurring compact selection of the species, making it useful in a smaller landscape. Named after the farm of O.E. Wentworth near Lancaster, New Hampshire where the original plant was found. Yellow-red fruits become a brilliant scarlet-red and are not only very attractive, but good for making preserves. Fruits are slightly earlier ripening than other trilobums. Grows 10-12′ tall and wide. May have the best red fall color of any American cranberry. Sun to part shade, grows 8′-12′, space 5-7′ apart. White flowers spring, fall color, fall and winter berries.
Aronia melanocarpa ‘Low Scape Mound’
Low-growing, mounded habit, perfect for edging and groundcover, this cocmpact form of black chokeberry tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. White flowers in spring; Dark purple fruit and brilliant fall foliage. Sun to part sun, adaptable to soil. Provides nectar for many pollinators, the leaves are the host for several moth and butterfly species, and the berries provide food for birds and small mammals.
This popular small tree is an iconic pink spring bloomer. It provides nectar for early pollinators. It thrives in shade to part shade and can tolerate moist to wet soil. The pollen and nesting material it provides is of special value to native bees. Some people add the flower buds to salads. It can grow in clay soil.
Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice
This shrub tolerates wet sites and thrives in sun to part shade. It attracts birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Ruby Spice is a pink selection. The species is white. These fragrant flowers provide a bounce to the hot and humid summer garden. The shrub will sucker and reach a height of about 3′-8′ and tolerates clay soil and is of special value to native bees.
Ilex glabra ‘Shamrock’
Inkberry Holly, an evergreen shrub, prefers sun to part sun and can tolerate clay soil. If you are lucky enough to have both a male and a female inkberry holly, the female will set small black berries which provide food for birds. Shamrock is a female clone which has a more compact habit than the species and grows to about 5 feet. For berries, you must also plant a male inkberry. We grow inkberries from seed and when we identify one as male we immediatley offer it for sale so that those with female plants can look forward to providing berries for the birds. Males are available only on a limited basis.
Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ and ‘Winter Red’
Winterberry hollies are a wonderful shrub for the winter garden. These deciduous shrubs lose their leaves and proudly hold their berries on bare branches, an offering to winter songbirds. Depending on the weather and the abundance of other food sources, birds may snap up the berries by December or leave them till February. Winterberry hollies prefer moist soil, will tolerate clay, and prefer full sun to part shade. Winter Red reaches about 6′ and Red Sprite stays at about 3′. There is some question on whether the berries of Red Sprite are able to be eaten by birds. Winter Red must be pollinated by Southern Gentleman and Red Sprite must be pollinated by Jim Dandy.
Leucothoe axillaris / Leucothoe fontenesiana ‘Girard’s Rainbow’
Also known as dog hobble, these suckering, multi-stem broad-leaf evergreen shrubs can form attractive thickets. They require rich, moist, acidic well drained soil and good air circulation to avoid fungal issues. They mature slowly to a height of 4′. The fragrant blooms emerge in May. The leaves of leucothoe axillaris are a deep green while the leaves of Girard’s Rainbow emerge with a mixture of white, pink, and green maturing to green.