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Note:  These are some of the hardier shrubs Planter is interested in growing.  Most bear   wildlife fruit, require little maintenance, and are cold hardy and relatively non-invasive.  See also Roses and Wildlife Plantings.  A very good, though not comprehensive, source of information on each shrub with graphics is the Pocket Gardener published by the Ohio State University. The entire database can be downloaded (4.3 mb). See Garden Links.

1.  Chokecherry

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), 13 ft., is not commonly planted as an ornamental, probably because it is such a common native. Chokecherries require a well-drained soil and sunlight. The fruits are attractive to wildlife and can be used in cooking. Adapted to zones 3 and 4.

CANADA RED CHERRY (Prunus virginiana 'Canada Red'), 13 ft., has leaves that emerge green and turn a dark red-maroon after several weeks. Its flowers and fruits are similar to the common chokecherry. Zones 3 and 4.

SHUBERT CHOKECHERRY (Prunus virginiana 'Shubert'), 13 ft., is similar to Canada Red cherry. Zones 3 and 4.

Choke Cherry - Native Shrubs in wildlife landscapingChoke Cherry - Prunus virginiana

Native Shrubs ... in wildlife landscaping
West Virginia Native Plant Society
West Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program
Form: Tall shrub or small tree, to 30 feet tall.
Twigs:Grayish, inner layers with an unpleasant odor.
Leaves:Deciduous, alternate, simple oval or oblong, abruptly pointed,
margins sharply serrate, 2 to 4 inches long, 1 to 2 inches wide.
Flowers:May-June. White in terminal clusters.
Fruit:A drupe which turns bright crimson when mature in August and

West Virginia Range:
Scattered in state, most common around swamps at the high elevations.
Natural Habitat:
Woods and open places.
Wildlife Use:
70 species of game and songbirds use fruits which are very important in late summer and early fall. Buds and twigs are eaten by grouse. Fair cover plant. Old dried fruits which hand on the shrubs are excellent survival foods in late winter.

Uses: Specimen or large clump.
Light: Partial to full sun.
Soil Moisture: Moist to dry. Well drained.
Soil pH: Neutral to acid.
Problems: Highly attractive to eastern tent caterpillar, suckers heavily,
rabbits girdle plants.
         Source:  West Virginia University Natural Resources and Nongame Programs


2.  Miscenllaneous Shrubs


Cranberry Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculata), 2 ft., is a low spreading shrub with arching branches. It is the hardiest of all the low cotoneasters but often shows winter dieback in exposed sites. The small, shiny green leaves and the bright red, cranberrylike fruits make this an attractive shrub for sites that have dependable winter snow cover. The small flowers are pink. Trial in zone 4.

Hedge Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster lucida), 5 ft., is the most commonly planted cotoneaster in Minnesota. In nurseries it is often incorrectly sold as Peking cotoneaster (C. acutifolia). The leaves are lustrous green and produce an abundance of black fruits. The fall foliage is often red. The hedge cotoneaster is susceptible to oystershell scale as well as fireblight. It is often planted for a formal hedge. Hardy in zones 3 and 4.

Many-flowered Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster multiflora), 8 ft. This species forms a large spreading shrub that may be 12 feet or more wide. It has large white flowers. The abundant fruits are a bright red. It is susceptible to fireblight. Hardy in zone 4; trial in zone 3.

Cranberry is a common name applied to two unrelated genera. It is applied to the high bush group included here, Viburnum, and also to the low vining plants that grow in sphagnum bogs, Vaccinium (the commonly eaten cranberry). The latter group is not adapted to upland growing conditions.

The viburnum group is useful for landscape plantings. The shrubs grow best in full sun, but are tolerant of some shade. Most will flower and fruit more abundantly in sunny locations. They are adapted to ordinary garden soils, but will grow on moist sites. Size within this group varies from 2 to 13 feet in height.

American Cranberry Bush (Viburnum trilobum), 7-12 ft., grows taller in shady locations. This native shrub blooms in June with large flat-topped clusters of white flowers. The outer row of sterile flowers is showy while the center consists of small fertile flowers that produce the berries. The berries are about inch in diameter and each contains a single large flattened seed. Fruits turn bright red at maturity and are retained on the plant in pendant clusters into winter and early spring if not taken by the birds. The fruits can be used to make jelly. The three-lobed leaves are dark green during the growing season and will turn a bright red in the fall if the plant is growing in a sunny location. Zones 3 and 4.



Deutzia is a shrub commonly used for landscapes in areas with milder climates than Minnesota's. Its use in Minnesota is limited to one species and a selection of that species. Those with pink flowers are not adapted to this area. Deutzia is useful for foundation planting or as part of a shrub border.

Lemoine Deutzia (Deutzia x lemoinei), 7 ft., is a hybrid that has clusters of small nonfragrant, pure white flowers in late May and early June. It does best when grown in full sun. Tip kill due to winter injury is a common occurrence and branch dieback will occur following severe winters. It is an attractive flowering shrub that is useful to those willing to prune out parts injured by the winter. It makes a quick recovery from winter injury, but blooms only on growth produced during the previous growing season. Adapted to the southern part of zone 4.

COMPACT LEMOINE DEUTZIA (Deutzia x lemoinei 'Compacta'), 5 ft., is a shrub that is denser and smaller than the Lemoine deutzia. Hardiness is similar to the Lemoine deutzia. Adapted to the southern half of zone 4.



American Elder (Sambucus canadensis), 8 ft., is a coarse native shrub with white flowers in flat-topped clusters that bloom in late June. These are followed by small black berries in late summer, ripening over a long time. The fruits are used for pies and for making elderberry wine. They are also readily eaten by birds. American elder can be planted as a background shrub and used in wildlife plantings. The selection Aurea has golden leaves and bright red fruits. Zones 3 and 4

Scarlet Elder (Sambucus pubens), 8 ft., is a native woodland shrub that is the first to come into leaf in the spring. It is often found at the edges of woods. It has pyramidal clusters of creamy white flowers that open in early May. These are followed in July by scarlet red inedible berries. This shrub is of questionable value in foundation or border plantings, but is good for naturalizing in shady areas. Zones 3 and 4.

Burning Bush

European Euonymus (Euonymus europaea) (see also Burning Bush), 8 ft., is a shrub grown primarily for its showy fruits. In late summer, fruits turn a rose-red and remain attractive until late fall at which time they become tan in color. Summer foliage is a dark green, but there is little color change in the fall. This plant is sometimes pruned to a single trunk and grown as a small tree, 10-13 feet tall. This euonymus creates a spectacular show in the fall. Hardy in zone 4, but often with some twig dieback; trial in zone 3.

Burning bush (Euonymus alata), 7-10 ft., is a shrub with good foliage and form. The twigs have corky ridges that are quite conspicuous and add winter interest. The elongated red fruits are showy but are seldom produced in large enough numbers to be effective. Previous plantings of the selection Compacta have not been dependably hardy in the Twin Cities area. There is a hardy, compact selection called Nordine, which was introduced because of the abundance of fruits it produces.

The burning bush has dark green, clean foliage during the growing season. In the fall it turns a deep red on sunny sites but in partially shaded areas it often takes on a pink to scarlet color.

Rabbits can severely damage this plant during the winter, often necessitating enclosing young plants with a cylinder of chicken wire. Zones 3 and 4.

Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpurea), 10-13 ft., is an uncommon native shrub in moist woodlands in the southern part of the state. It is often unnoticed until fall and winter when its bright rosy pink fruits are conspicuous. Unlike the fruit of some of the other euonymus, which lose their color after hard freezes, these hold their color into the winter. This plant is not commonly available. It normally grows as a shrub, but it sometimes has a single stem, giving it a treelike appearance. It is useful as a specimen plant or in the shrub border. Zones 3 and 4.


This is a diverse group that is useful for extensive plantings. As a group sumacs are fast growing and tolerant of dry, infertile sites. Most have an attractive fall color. Many people are concerned about sumacs being poisonous. Although poison sumac is a native shrub, it is nevertheless uncommon. It occurs on moist sites, mostly in swamps. Poison sumac has hanging clusters of white berries. Sumacs with upright clusters and red fruits are not poisonous.

Cutleaf Sumac (see Staghorn Sumac).

Picture of a Cutleaf staghorn sumac
Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica), 4 ft., grows as a dense mound, making it useful where large mounds are desired in the landscape. Unlike the other sumacs described here, it has three-lobed leaves. The red berrylike fruits are produced in dense clusters at the tip of some branches. There is usually little fall color. Hardy in zone 4; trial in zone 3.

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra), to 8 ft., depending on the site and strain. This native shrub is useful for a tall bank cover. It spreads over a large area by root suckers, creating colonies. Some of the colonies will have upright clusters of red fruits, while others will have none. Autumn color is normally a bright red. Zones 3 and 4.

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina), 12 ft., is usually shrublike but if pruned can have a large trunk and become treelike. This native shrub spreads by root suckers. It can be differentiated from the smooth sumac by the dense, velvetlike hairs on the stems. Colonies may produce fruit, depending on their sex. Fall color is an intense red. Zones 3 and 4.

CUTLEAF STAGHORN SUMAC (Rhus typhina 'Laciniata'), 7-8 ft., is similar to the species but has finely cut leaves. The fall color varies from yellow to a red-orange, which is the more common. This selection sometimes suffers winter injury, which ranges from tip dieback to dieback almost to the ground. Even if winter injury is extensive, the plant can be pruned to the ground and it will make a quick recovery. It is often used as a tall bank cover but can be used as a specimen plant. Because of the coarseness of the branching, it takes on an almost sculptured appearance. Zones 3 and 4.



Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), 7 ft., is a true holly, but loses its leaves during the winter. It is a native shrub that is often found on moist sites. It should be planted on acid soils and will grow well on upland soils. Plants are of a single sex, so three or more should be planted to assure that some of the plants will fruit. Ideally there should be two to three female plants and one male. The small fruits turn bright red at maturity and persist long after the leaves are gone. The fruits are eaten by many species of birds. Zones 3 and 4.

See also Holly and Holly Legends.

      Source:  Univ. of Minnesota (http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture)

2.   Kalmia latifolia--Mountain-laurel

note_pin.gif (247 bytes)  Univ. of Minnesota (above) does not include Mountain Laurel in its list of hardy plants, but it does grow in New Hampshire in protected woodland areas as noted below.

Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8
Height: 12 ft Spread: 12 ft Form: rounded
Type: broad-leaved evergreen shrub
Annual Growth Rate: less than 12 inches
Flowers: Pink, red white

Comments: This broad-leaved evergreen requires an acid, well-aerated soil and a growing area with sun, although it tolerates shade. Some exposure to sun is required for proper flower color development of red and pink cultivars.
The flowers open in late spring or early summer and once they fade they should be removed. Kalmia's cultural requirements are similar to those of rhododendron' and azaleas and so they can be grown together. Some protection from winter sun and wind is suggested when it is grown in northern climates. Field grown plants are reported to transplant more successfully than do container-grown plants.

'Bravo' - Dark pink buds and flowers.
'Bridesmaid' - The deep pink buds open to pink flowers
with white centers.
'Bullseye' - White flowers having a purple band.
'Carol' - Red buds open to pink flowers. The plant
froms a low, rounded mound.
'Carousel' - White flowers with purple banding.
'Compact Pink' - A wide and compact plant with dark
pink flowers.
'Elf' - A dwarf cultivar with pink buds opening to
pale pink flowers.
'Fuscata' - The white flowers have a maroon band.
'Good Show' - A pink-flowered cultivar reaching a
height and spread of 6 to 8 feet.
'Heart's Desire' - The flowers are mostly red with a
white band at the edge and center of the petals.
'Hoffman's Pink' - Dark pink buds open to pale pink
'Kaleidescope' - A cultivar with red buds opening to
cinnamon colored flowers with a white center and
'Minuet' - One of the smaller cultivars. The buds are
light pink. The flowers have white centers and red
spokes lead to a red band surrounded by a white edge.
'Nancy' - Red buds and deep pink flowers with maroon
'Nipmuck' - Light red buds open to light pink flowers.
'Olympic Fire' - A large, 15-foot shrub with deep red
buds that open to pink flowers.
'Ostbo Red' - The deep, red buds are followed by light
pink flowers the color of which deepens the longer
they are open.
'Pink Frost' - Pink flower buds open to silvery-pink
'Raspberry Glow' - Burgundy red flower buds open to
pink flowers.
'Sarah' - Red flower buds open to pinkish-red flowers.
'Sharon Rose' - A pink-flowered cultivar with a height
and spread of up to 10 feet.
'Shooting Star' - The white flowers have an unusual
shape that resembles a star.
'Silverdollar' - Pink buds open to large white flowers.
'Snowdrift' - A compact, white-flowered cultivar.
'Sunset' - A wide, open-growing plant with dark red
buds and nearly red flowers.
'Tiddlywinks' - A dwarf with pink flowers, 2 feet tall.
'Tinkerbell' - A dwarf with medium pink flowers, 3 to 4
feet tall.
'Twenty' - A low, compact plant that bears dark pink
buds and pink flowers.
'White Mountain' - Nearly white buds open to white
'Yankee Doodle' - The pink buds open to white flowers
having a narrow red band.

3.  Common Lilac

Hardiness Zones: 3 to 7

Height: 15 ft Spread: 10 ft Form: irregular
Type: deciduous shrub
Annual Growth Rate: 12 to 18 inches
Flowers: purple

Comments: Common Lilac is a very common flowering shrub that grows best in a sunny location. The plant grows in shade but flowering is poor and powdery mildew is likely to be severe. Powdery mildew, scales, borers and bacterial blight, plus the regular pruning needed to control height and suckering cause many gardeners to become dissatisfied.


'Alba' - Single, white flowers.
'Albert Holden' - Deep violet blooms are silvery on the reverse side of the petals giving a bicolor effect.
'Aloise' - Single, white flowers.
'Alphonse Lavalle' - Double, blue flowers.
'Ami Schott' - Double, blue flowers with deeper tones.
'Angel White' - White flowers are produced without theneed for winter chilling.
'Annabelle' - Double pink flowers.
'Arch McKean' - Large, single, reddish-purple flowers are produced in large clusters. Little suckering.
'Aucubaefolia' - Pale lilac flowers and gold and green foliage.
'Avalanche' - Large, single white flowers.
'Beauty of Moscow' ('Krasavita Moskvy') - Double, pale pink flowers.
'Belle de Nancy' - Double, pink and lavender flowers.
'California Rose' - Rose-pink flowers.
'Charles Joly' - Double flowers are purple in bud then open to magenta.
'Charm' - Large flowers that are single and lilac pink.
'Congo' - Dark red, single flowers.
'Dark Night' - Dark purple, single flowers.
'Edith Cavell' - Large clusters of creamy buds that open to white flowers.
'Edward Gardener' - Double pink flowers.
'Ellen Willmott' - Double white flowers are produced on a shrub that has a height and spread of 10 feet.
'Flora' - Single, white flowers.
'Frank's Fancy' - Large, single, dark purple flowers.
'Frank Patterson' - Single, deep purplish-red flowers on a tall plant.
'General Sheridan' - Double, white flowers on an upright plant.
'Hugo Koster' - Single, reddish-purple flowers.
'Indes' - Single, deep reddish-purple flowers.
'Katherine Havemeyer' - Double, lavender pink flowers.
'Lavender Lady' - Lavender flowers that are produced without the need for winter chilling.
'Lark Song' - A hybrid with large pink flowers.
'Little Boy Blue' - A compact plant only 5 feet tall producing single, sky blue flowers.
'Lucie Baltet' - Single pink flowers, a slow growing plant.
'Ludwig Spaeth' - Single, reddish-purple flowers.
'Marie Frances' - Soft pink flowers.
'Marie Legraye' - Single, white flowers.
'Marechal Foch' - Single, magenta flowers.
'Michel Buchner' - Double, lilac flowers.
'Miss Ellen Willmott' - A rounded shrub with double, White flowers.
'Mme. Antoine Buchner' - Double, lavender pink flowers.
'Mme. Casimir Perier' - Double, white flowers.
'Mme. Lemoine' - Double, white flowers.
'Monge' - Single, reddish-purple flowers.
'Monique Lemoine' - Double, white flowers.
'Monore' (Blue Skies TM) - Lavender blue flowers produced without the need for winter chilling.
'Montaigne' - Double, pale, lilac-pink flowers.
'Mrs. Ed Harding' - Large spikes of reddish-purple buds open to double, magenta flowers.
'Nadezhda' ('Hope') - Reddish-purple flower buds open to pale blue flowers, heavy flowering in alternate years.
'Olivier de Serres' - Double, lavender blue flowers.
'Paul Thirion' - Single, blue flowers.
'President Grevy' - Double, lilac blue flowers produced in large clusters.
'President Lincoln' - Single, blue flowers.
'President Poincare' - Very large, double, purple flowers.
'Primrose' - Creamy yellow buds open to single cream colored flowers.
'Prodige' - Single, deep reddish-purple flowers'Rajah' - A narrow, upright plant with dark new foliage and wine-red flowers.
'Sarah Sands' - Single, violet purple flowers.
'Sensation' - Single, purple flowers with a pure white border.
'Slater's Elegance' - Large, single white flowers.
'Vintage Wine' - Single, dark magenta flowers are produced on upright plants.
'Wedgewood Blue' - Lilac pink buds in large clusters.
'Zulu' - Single, violet flowers.

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2.  Common Lilac 

note_pin.gif (247 bytes)  The source of this information is an article by Susan Peery in Yankee Magazine, May 2003.

The lilac is New Hampshire's State flower and those planted by Governor Wentworth in 1750 are believed to be the oldest in the U.S.  Like the the State butterfly, the Karner Blue, it is in trouble. 

Although it is not yet extinct like the Karner Blue, lilacs are "slowly succumbing" to a fungus disease, Armillaria, according to Dr. Owen Rogers, University of New Hampshire . The fungus grows where the root and stem meet, so heavy mulching  may provide favorable conditions for the disease. The sprouts are unaffected by the fungus, so propagating is another way to preserve the species.

The author recommends against pruning or shaping the first three years of a newly-planted lilac.  Like rhododendons, pinching back too much could sacrifice next year's blooms.  If the lilac becomes too tall, wide, or woody, the author recommends cutting out up to 1/3 of stems larger than 2"-3" in diameter.  Prune after blooms but before August.  She said some hybrids do not produce sprouts readily and don't recover from pruning.  She recommends cutting them  where the main stem branches, not at the ground.

Our lilacs are probably over 30 years old, neglected by our renters for two decades, but rebounding after some TLC by this gardener.  I do not mulch them.  One of the bushes is unaffected by ground ivy  (resembles the houseplant Swedish ivy) growing at its base, because the herb is unable to compete with the lilac's ubiquitous sprouts.  Each spring, before a rainfall is predicted, they and the rhodos and roses get a sprinkling of granular fertilizer -- the only time we use the granular type, since we try to stay organic. 

The sprouts are very easy to propogate.  I just sever them from the parent, pot up with some transplant solution, and let them rest in the shade until new growth appears.   One 15-gallon pot has been happily living behind the garage for the past 3 years, waiting for me to transport it to the Farmer's Market.  Maybe this summer. . .