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Shrubs and Small Trees for Coastal Virginia –

The Underutilized, Underappreciated, and Unusual

Virginia Beach Master Gardener – Advanced Regional Training – 3/15/2019

Shrubs

Abelia chinensis – Chinese Abelia

  • fragrant white flowers in summer; extremely attractive to butterflies; attracts hummingbirds as well; semi-evergreen to deciduous
  • 5-7’ tall and wide with an informal arching habit
  • full sun to partial shade in moist well drained soil; drought tolerant

Acca sellowiana – Pineapple Guava

  • dramatic and unusual late-spring flowers have pink to white petals and showy red stamens; evergreen foliage is a soothing silvery blue-green
  • delicious edible fruit in late summer; multiple plants produce better fruit set
  • 6’ tall and wide with a rounded habit
  • full sun is best for flowers and fruit, but will tolerate part shade; tolerant of coastal conditions and sandy soil

Aralia spinosa – Devil’s Walkingstick

  • Virginia native
  • frothy white flower clusters in summer attract nectar seeking insects; dark purple-black fruit in fall is attractive to fruit-eating birds; attractive deciduous foliage can have nice fall color; common name comes from thorny stems
  • usually grows 10-20’, but can be larger; clump-forming
  • full sun to partial shade in moist well drained soil; tolerant of less than ideal situations

Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’ – Strawberry Shrub

  • evergreen with the unusual habit of fruiting and flowering at the same time, usually in December; this year’s white flowers produce next year’s red edible fruit; attractive cinnamon colored bark
  • 6’ tall and wide or more with an upright habit
  • full sun to fair shade in moist well drained soil; drought tolerant

Baccharis halimifolia – Saltbush

  • Virginia native
  • fleecy white clouds of flowers in late summer; deciduous
  • 5-12’ tall and wide with a multi-stemmed irregular habit
  • full to fair shade; tolerant of regular salt flooding, and marshy soils, will also grow in other poor soils

Callicarpa americana – American Beautyberry

  • Virginia native
  • pale lavender flowers in summer produce clusters of bright purple fruit early to mid-fall; foliage repels mosquitoes
  • 3-6’ tall and wide
  • full sun to moderate shade in moist soil

Calycanthus raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ – Raulston’s Allspice

  • showy red flowers in late spring; a cross between our native Calycanthus and a Chinese species
  • 8’ tall and wide
  • full sun to light shade in moist well drained soil

Ceanothus americanus – New Jersey Tea

  • Virginia native
  • fragrant white flowers in late spring to early summer are very attractive to pollinators; turkeys and other birds enjoy the seeds; deciduous
  • 3-4’ tall and wide with a rounded habit; slow to establish
  • full sun to partial shade; must have well drained soil; large root system makes them drought tolerant, but difficult to transplant once established

Cephalanthus occidentalis – Buttonbush

  • Virginia native
  • creamy, fragrant white flowers in summer are attractive to pollinators, butterflies, and hummingbirds; birds like the seeds; deciduous foliage turns yellow in the fall
  • 5-12’ tall by less in width with an open habit; multi-stemmed
  • full to partial sun in moist soil; very tolerant of wet and swampy soils, but not drought tolerant
  • Sugar Shack® is 3-4’ tall and wide

Cephalotaxus harringtonia – Japanese Plum Yew

  • evergreen conifer; dark green foliage; excellent substitute for yews in Southern climates
  • ‘Prostrata’ is a low mounding form at 2-3’ tall, and ‘Fastigiata’ is an upright narrow form at 8-10’ tall by 3-5’ wide
  • partial to full shade in moist well drained soil; heat and drought tolerant

Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’ of ‘Lemon Peel’ – Hybrid Jessamine

  • clusters of either orange or yellow flowers bloom from early summer through fall; attractive to hummingbirds; nocturnal fragrance; deciduous
  • 5-6’ or more with an upright habit
  • full to partial sun in moist well drained soil; drought tolerant; in severe winters it will die to the ground, but easily returns

Clethra alnifolia – Sweetpepper Bush, Summersweet

  • Virginia native
  • 3-5” long racemes of very fragrant white flowers in late spring to early summer; extremely attractive to pollinators; deciduous; golden yellow fall foliage
  • 3-8’ tall and wide with a suckering spreading habit
    • ‘Crystallina’ 5-3’ tall by 3-4’ wide
    • Einstein™ 3-4’ tall and wide with 12” curly flower spikes
    • ‘Hummingbird’ 3-4’ tall and wide
    • ‘Ruby Spice’ 3-6’ tall and wide, the best pink cultivar
    • ‘Sixteen Candles’ 3-6’ tall and wide, larger flowers
    • ‘Vanilla Spice’ 3-6’ tall and wide, larger flowers
  • full sun to partial shade in moist soil; tolerant of wet soils

Corylopsis spicata – Spike Winterhazel

  • chains of small yellow flowers bloom in late winter; deciduous; attractive winter silhouette
  • 6-8’ tall and wide
  • full sun to partial shade in moist well drained soil
  • other Corylopsis species are available, but this is my favorite

Cyrilla racemiflora – Swamp Titi, Leatherwood

  • Virginia native (into the Caribbean and northern South America)
  • slender white, fragrant flower clusters bloom in summer; attractive to butterflies and pollinators; foliage turns orange and red in fall; deciduous to semi-evergreen
  • 10-30’ tall by half as wide; can be a large shrub or small tree;
  • full sun to partial shade in moist to wet soil; not drought tolerant; very salt tolerant

Edgeworthia chrysantha – Paperbush

  • beautiful silvery buds open to golden yellow flowers in winter; very fragrant; foliage may appear tropical
  • 6’ tall and wide with a rounded habit, often grown as a standard
  • partial shade is best, but tolerant; moist well drained soil

Euonymus americanus – Hearts-a-Bustin’

  • Virginia native
  • insignificant small, pale green flowers in late spring; showy orange and red fruits in autumn; green stems year-round; sparse foliage can have nice fall color
  • 4-6’ tall and wide with a wispy suckering habit
  • partial shade in moist well drained soil; tolerant of drought and wet soils

Euonymus phellomanus – Chinese Winged Euonymus

  • insignificant spring flowers produce showy pink fruit in fall; attractive corky bark ridges stand out in winter; may have red fall foliage
  • 12-15’ tall by half as wide with an upright habit
  • sun to partial shade in moist well-drained soil; site where winter sun is caught behind to highlight bark

Fatsia japonica ‘Murakumo Nishiki’        – Fatsia, Japanese Aralia

  • unusual variegated evergreen foliage; white flowers in early winter
  • up to 6’ tall by slightly less in width
  • full to partial shade in moist well drained soil; drought tolerant

Hamamelis hybrids – Witchhazel

  • colorful, fragrant, winter flowers can be yellow, orange, or red; fantastic fall foliage
  • can get 15-20’ tall and wide, but usually less
  • full sun to partial shade in moist well drained soil
  • native Hamamelis are garden-worthy, but the hybrids offer the best flower color

Ilex verticillata – Winterberry

  • Virginia native
  • small white flowers in spring; copious red fruits on female plants in fall and winter; deciduous; dioecious and must have compatible males and females
  • 6-15’ tall by slightly less wide; size varies by cultivar, dwarf forms available
  • full sun to partial shade in moist soil; tolerant of wet and heavy soils

Illicium ‘Woodland Ruby’ – Pink Anisetree

  • hybrid with pinky red “starfish” flowers spring to mid-summer
  • 8-10’ tall by 6-8’ wide with an upright habit
  • full to partial shade in moist soil

Magnolia figo ‘Port Wine’ – Banana Shrub

  • intensely fragrant ivory-pink flowers in early summer; evergreen
  • 8-10’ tall and wide; rounded habit
  • full sun to light shade in moist well drained soil

Osmanthus fragrans var. aurantiacus – Orange Flowered Sweet Olive

  • extremely fragrant salmon orange flower clusters in fall; evergreen
  • 10-15’ tall by 8-10’ wide, maybe larger with age
  • full sun to moderate shade in moist well drained soil

Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’ –         Trifoliate Orange

  • contorted green branches with talon-like thorns; white flowers in spring, and orange fruit in early fall
  • 8-12’ tall by slightly less in width
  • full sun to moderate shade in moist well drained soil; drought tolerant

Rhododendron species – Native Azaleas

   R. atlanticum – Coastal Azalea

  • Virginia native
  • fragrant white flowers blushed with pink in April; attracts hummingbirds and insect pollinators
  • 3-6’ tall and wide
  • partial shade in consistently moist but well drained soil

   Raustrinum and hybrids – Florida Flame Azalea

  • Southeast native
  • flower color varies between pale yellow, gold, bright yellow, orange to red depending on selection; many cultivars and hybrids available; fragrant; attracts hummingbirds and insect pollinators
  • 8-10’ tall and wide
  • partial shade in moist well drained soil

   R. canescens – Piedmont Azalea

  • Southeast native
  • sweetly fragrant pink flowers in spring; deciduous; attracts hummingbirds and insect pollinators
  • 6-15’ tall by slightly less wide
  • partial shade in consistently moist but well drained soil

   R. periclymenoides – Pinxterbloom Azalea

  • Virginia native
  • soft pink, slightly fragrant flowers in April, sometimes white; deciduous; attracts hummingbirds and insect pollinators
  • variable 4-10’ tall by less in width
  • partial shade in consistently moist but well drained soil

   R. prunifolium – Plumleaf Azalea

  • Southeast Native
  • orange-red to red flowers in summer, other colors also; deciduous; attracts hummingbirds and insect pollinators
  • 8-12’ tall by 6-8’ wide
  • partial shade in consistently moist but well drained soil

   R. viscosum – Swamp Azalea

  • Virginia native
  • fragrant white flowers in late spring/early summer; deciduous; attracts hummingbirds and insect pollinators
  • variable 2-8’ tall by less in width
  • partial shade in moist soil; tolerant of wet soils and occasional droughts

Rhus typhina Tiger Eyes® – Staghorn Sumac

  • Virginia native cultivar
  • grown primarily for its bright yellow to gold foliage which turns orange in the fall; attractive red stems
  • 3-6’ tall; a valued dwarf version of the species; may politely sucker
  • full sun to part shade in moist well drained soil; drought tolerant

Sabal minor – Dwarf Palmetto

  • Southeast native
  • large blue-green fronds can be up to 3’ across; black fruits in fall attract a variety of wildlife; evergreen
  • 6×6’ typically, though can get up to 10’
  • full sun to light shade in moist well drained soil; drought, wet, and salt tolerant

Schefflera delavayi – Delavay’s Schefflera

  • hardy evergreen cousin to more tropical houseplants; white summer flowers and purple-black fall fruit
  • 6’ tall and wide, perhaps larger with age
  • partial to full shade in rich, moist, well drained soil

Spiraea thunbergii – Bridal-wreath

  • delicate white February blooms
  • 3-5’ tall and wide
  • full sun in moist well drained soil
    • ‘Fujino Pink’ – pink buds opening to blush to white flowers; fantastic late season fall foliage color
    • ‘Ogon’ – bright gold foliage in spring, chartreuse in summer, then back to gold in fall

Stachyurus praecox

  • showy butter yellow blooms hang from bare branches in late winter
  • up to 10’ tall and wide
  • full to partial sun in moist well drained soil

Vaccinium ashei – Rabbiteye Blueberry

  • Southeast native
  • blush pink and white flowers late winter – early spring; edible blue fruit in early summer; fantastic fall foliage
  • 6’ tall by slightly less in width
  • full sun to light shade in moist well drained soil

Viburnum obovatum – Walter’s Viburnum

  • Southeast native
  • clusters of small, fragrant, white flowers appear in spring; red fruit in late summer matures to black; evergreen in mild winters
  • up to 20’ tall, but look for dwarf selections
    • ‘Densa’ 4-5’ tall and wide
    • ‘Miss Schiller’s Delight’ 2-3’ tall by 3’ wide
    • ‘Reifler’s Dwarf’ 10-12’ tall and wide
  • Full sun to partial shade in moist to wet soil; tolerant of wet soils and slightly salt tolerant

Zenobia pulverulenta – Dusty Zenobia

  • Virginia native (barely)
  • evergreen to deciduous foliage is a powdery blue green in season turning red, orange to burgundy in fall often persisting through winter; clusters of fragrant, white, bell-shaped flowers in spring
  • 3-6’ tall and wide
  • full sun to light shade in moist soil; tolerant of wet soils and dry after established

 

Small Trees

Aesculus pavia – Red Buckeye

  • Virginia native
  • showy red flowers in mid-spring; attractive to hummingbirds; handsome deciduous foliage, but usually falls by late summer
  • 12-15’ tall and wide; multi-stemmed shrub, or small tree
  • full sun to partial shade in moist well drained soil

Amelanchier × grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’ – Serviceberry

  • native hybrid
  • showy white flowers in very early spring; very edible fruit turns from red to blue-black when ripe; great fall color
  • 15-25’ tall and wide with a suckering multi-stemmed habit, but can be trained
  • full to partial sun in moist well-drained soil; more disease resistant than species

Cercis canadensis – Eastern Redbud

  • Virginia native
  • purple-pink flowers in early spring; deciduous
  • species can get 20-30’ tall by 25-35’ wide; commonly multi-stemmed, but singles too
    • Carolina Sweetheart™ – pink, white and green foliage; same size as species
    • Lavender Twist® (‘Covey’) – contorted weeping habit; 5-6’ tall by 6-8’ wide
    • ‘Merlot’ – one of the best burgundy foliage selections; more heat tolerant; 10-15’ tall and wide
    • ‘Ruby Falls’ – burgundy foliage; weeping habit; 6-8’ tall by 5-6’ wide
    • ‘The Rising Sun’- variegated new foliage in orange, yellow to green; decent fall color for a redbud; 8-12’ tall and wide
  • light shade to full sun in moist well drained soil

Chionanthus virginicus – Fringetree

  • Virginia native
  • white lacy flowers in May to early June; males slightly showier; females have blue-black fruit in late summer, attractive to wildlife
  • 25-30’ tall and wide
  • full sun to light shade in moist well drained soil; adaptable and easy to grow

Cornus elliptica (C. angustata) – Evergreen Dogwood

  • showy white flower bracts in late spring-early summer; showy red fruits in late summer; blue-green evergreen foliage
  • 15-20’ tall by slightly less in width
  • partial shade in moist well drained soil
  • ‘Elsbry’ Empress of China® is a commonly available improved cultivar

Diospyros kaki – Japanese Persimmon

  • delicious and showy orange fruits in fall; can be astringent or non-astringent depending on variety; colorful fall foliage; yellow-green flowers are interesting but not terribly showy
  • most named cultivars will stay under 30’, but the straight species can get larger; dwarf selections available
  • full sun in moist well drained soil

Euonymus carnosus – Spindle Tree

  • fragrant clusters of showy white flowers late spring to summer; coral red fruits in autumn; spectacular burgundy red fall foliage late in the season; deciduous
  • 12-16’ tall by 8-10’ wide; larger with age
  • full to partial sun in moist well drained soil

Euscaphis japonica – Korean Sweetheart Tree

  • insignificant flowers produce showy, red, heart-shaped fruit capsules that split open revealing blue-black seeds; deciduous, colorful fall foliage
  • 12-20’ tall by 8-10’ wide
  • full sun to partial shade in moist well drained soil

Halesia species – Carolina Silverbell

  • Southeast native
  • showy white flowers in spring; deciduous
  • size varies by species
    • carolina – 30-40’ tall by 20-35’ wide
    • diptera – 15-30’ tall by 15-15’ wide
    • tetraptera – 20-40’ tall by 15-35’ wide
  • full sun to light shade in moist well drained soil ( tetrapetera prefers light shade); not drought tolerant

Heptacodium miconioides – Seven Son Flower

  • fragrant white flower clusters in late summer are followed by dusky pink calyx; attractive, multi-colored exfoliating bark; deciduous
  • 10-20’ tall by half as wide
  • full sun to partial shade in moist well drained soil; tolerant of less than ideal conditions

Lithocarpus edulis ‘Variegata’ – Tanbark Oak

  • large shrub/small tree noted for its variegated evergreen foliage
  • 20- 30′ tall by 15-25′ wide
  • full sun to partial shade in moist well drained soil

Magnolia virginiana – Sweetbay Magnolia

  • Virginia native
  • sweetly fragrant white flowers in late spring to early summer; cone-like fruit with bright red seeds; attracts birds; host plant for Eastern Tiger Swallowtail; evergreen to deciduous depending on weather and specimen
  • 10-30’ tall by less in width; larger with age
    • ‘Mattie Mae Smith’ – has variegated yellow and green foliage
    • Magnolia virginiana australis – reliably evergreen
  • full sun to partial shade in moist soil; tolerant of wet soils and salt

Styrax japonica – Japanese Snowbell

  • beautiful white bell-shaped flowers in late spring; pink flowered and weeping forms available; no appreciable fall color
  • 20-30’ tall and wide, graceful wide-spreading tree with horizontal branches,
  • full sun to partial shade in moist well-drained soil high in organic matter
    • ‘Carillon’ is a weeping form
    • ‘Pink Chimes’ is a pink flowered form
    • obassia – Fragrant Snowbell has leaves and flowers larger than S. japonicus, very fragrant, attractive curving branches

Taxodium distichum – Bald Cypress (Dwarf Selections)

  • Virginia native cultivars
  • ‘Peve Minaret’ 6-10’ tall by 3-5’ wide; dense foliage an pyramidal habit
  • ‘Cascade Falls’ 8-20’ tall by 5-8’ wide with a crazy weeping habit; may benefit from staking
  • like all Taxodium, bright green fern like foliage matures to darker green; beautiful russet orange fall foliage
  • full sun to light shade in moist soil; tolerant of wet feet and brackish water

Zanthoxylum clava-herculis – Hercules’ Club, Southern Prickly Ash

  • Virginia native
  • greenish white flower clusters in spring; attractive red fruit; mostly known for its thorny trunk; host plant for the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
  • 15-30’ tall by 10-25’ wide
  • full to partial sun in moist well drained soil; tolerant of poor sandy soils, drought, and salt

 

 

 

Les Parks
Norfolk Botanical Garden
6700 Azalea Garden Rd.
Norfolk, VA 23518
les.parks@nbgs.org
757-441-5830 ext. 452