Camellia sinensis is the plant you want for growing traditional tea leaves. Dried mature leaves produce black tea; young leaves yield a less acidic brew known as white tea. Allow plants to reach 3 to 5 feet before picking leaves, which you can do twice a year. Prune plants when they’re young to cause branching, which gives you more stems to harvest. Plants are winter hardy in Zones 8-10. Grow them in pots in other zones. Feed tea plants lightly—only in spring.
Bronze-purple leaves complement pale pink blooms on ‘Newport’ cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera ‘Newport’). Blossoms appear at the height of spring and fade to form dull purple fruit that birds enjoy. You can also harvest the fruit for eating or making pie or jam. Leaves turn deep purple by summer and shift to red hues in fall. Prune as needed after flowering. This is a small tree, growing 15 to 20 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
Meet a dogwood that blends disease resistance with small stature (no pruning required!). Venus dogwood is the result of a cross between Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) and Korean dogwood (Cornus kousa). The resulting beauty features 6-inch-wide spring flowers, red berry-like fruits in autumn and red fall color. Birds flock to this dogwood to gobble the fruit, making it a must-have in a wildlife or bird garden. Size: Up to 15 to 20 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9.
Violet to brown tinted centers on these clematis flowers contrast strikingly with pure white petals. The largest blossoms appear on plants in early summer, followed by smaller flowers on new stems in midsummer to early fall. Gardeners often grow ‘Henryi’ as a trailing clematis at ground level, letting stems tumble along and cascade over rock walls. For best flowering, prune stems in late winter or early spring, cutting stems back to 6 to 9 inches above a pair of fat buds. Vines grow 6 to 10 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Welcome fall with the beautiful blooms of an autumn classic: New England aster. This beauty offers blooms in a host of hues, including brilliant purple, pale lavender, pink and ruby. Asters beckon butterflies and bees with their blooms, providing an important food supply to pollinators from late summer into fall. Asters have a tendency to flop. Plan to prune in early summer or stake in autumn. ‘Purple Dome’ plants grow 18 to 24 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-8.
Imagine growing a lemon tree by the biggest, brightest window in your Victorian home, and harvesting the fruits to make lemonade for your guests. Once again, Meyer lemons are the choice of many indoor gardeners. Pretty in pots, the trees like full sun, potting soil that drains easily, and regular feedings with a citrus tree fertilizer. Keep them pruned to control their size. Once the nighttime temperatures stay above 50 degrees F, you can take your tree outdoors for the summer. Enjoy the fragrant blooms, but keep some bottled lemonade on hand for a while. The sweeter-than-most-lemons can take up to a year to ripen.
Discover a native tree that’s perfect for any size yard. This beauty delivers white, fringe-like flowers in late spring to early summer, followed by blue-black fruits that are favorites among birds. Fall color delivers with leaves that shift from bright green to shades of yellow-gold. This tree has no pests and stands up to pollution. It also doesn’t need pruned. The shape is rounded (like those lollipop trees you drew in elementary school). It often forms multiple trunks, which is not a problem. Size: Plants grow 12 to 20 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
Clematis breeders are working to develop smaller plants that adapt well to containers and small gardens. Tekla Garland clematis delivers. This pretty vine opens 4- to 5-inch-wide flowers non-stop from early summer through fall. Blossoms boast a reddish-pink hue that shifts as individual flowers age. Plants tend to be bushy and are ideal for growing in containers on a pot size tuteur. Tuck into a spot in light shade to full sun for best flowering. To prune, in late winter or early spring, cut all stems back to 6 inches above soil. Vines grow 4 to 5 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
Discover the shrubby side of clematis with this upright version of the classic vine. ‘Stand By Me’ grows to a shrub-like form that doesn’t need a trellis like a traditional vining clematis, although it does benefit from a little support. This clematis features beautiful blue blooms that dangle like bells and open from late spring through midsummer. After flowers fade, they form fuzzy seedheads that are eye-catching and fun. Plants grow 34 to 38 inches tall by 24 to 28 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7. ‘Stand By Me’ clematis belongs to Pruning Group 3.
Give your yard’s shady spot a splash of color courtesy of Dear Dolores hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Wyatt LeFever’). This bigleaf or mophead hydrangea opens 8-inch flower heads all season long—pink in alkaline soil, blue in acidic. (Add aluminum sulfate to soil to make it acidic.) The first wave of flowers appears in spring, followed by blossoms from summer to fall. Prune after flowering and/or in early spring to shape the plant. This classic bloomer grows 5 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9. Good to know: Mulch soil around hydrangea to help maintain moisture and keep weeds down.
Also known as Arabian tea jasmine, ‘Maid of Orleans’ (Jasminum sambac) is usually raised for its perfumed blooms. The blossoms also make a refreshing flavored water. Simply place flowers in cold water, refrigerate overnight, and drink in the morning. This jasmine thrives indoors or out, although it’s only winter hardy in Zone 10. Indoors, keep it in a bright southern window with temps above 65 F. ‘Maid of Orleans’ grows into a shrub form. Prune as needed to control and direct growth.
Aster is a favorite among bees and butterflies, serving late-season nectar that’s vital to insect survival during cool autumn nights. It’s a perfect companion for goldenrod and black-eyed susan. Choose varieties in a range of hues, including blue, lavender, pink and white. Early research shows that lavender-tinted blooms seem to attract more pollinators than other colors. Look for short aster varieties that don’t need staking. Otherwise, give tall asters an early summer pruning to reduce final height (and avoid staking). This is Kickin’ ‘Lavender’ aster, which grows 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9.
Brighten a part shade to full sun setting with colorful, deer-resistant Golden Rule St. John’s wort (Hypericum calycinum). Also known as hypericum, this plant has a form that falls between a small shrub to ground cover. As it establishes, it fills in a planting area with its gold leaves. Yellow flowers appear in summer, beckoning bees and butterflies. Fall color includes orange and gold shades. Plants grow 12 to 18 inches high by 12 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 6-8. Good to know: For best growth and color, prune plants in spring and again after flowering.
Consider native red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) for a small tree that looks good through many seasons. It unfurls red flower spikes that are a hummingbird magnet. Typical chestnut-type fruits form in fall with three nuts per hull. Give red buckeye full sun in all zones, with afternoon shade in the South. It will also grow and flower in part shade. Plants need consistent moisture for healthiest leaves. Red buckeye often forms multiple trunks. Prune it to one for a more tree-like appearance. Size: 12 to 15 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
When most people think of clematis, they picture something like the luxurious, deep purple blooms of ‘The President.’ This beauty is a traditional clematis vine, happy to clamber up a trellis or blanket a fence. ‘The President’ opens its first flush of flowers in late spring to early summer, followed by a second blooming with smaller flowers in early autumn. Prune in late winter or early spring, cutting vines back to 6 to 9 inches tall. Place cuts just above a pair of strong buds. These deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 8 to 12 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Flowering maples (Abutilon spp.) were so popular in Victorian parlors, they were known as parlor maples (they’re not maples, however). The plants are coming back in style and they’re great for hanging baskets or other containers that show off their dangling, bell-shaped flowers. Most gardeners keep their plants outside in warm weather and overwinter them indoors. They need a bright exposure in your home and should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. Prune lightly to keep them compact, but don’t remove too many stems, or the plants won’t set buds. ‘Yellow Finch’ has crinkly, yellow flowers and prefers full shade. When grown outdoors, this annual is hardy in zones 9-11.
Discover the beauty of a bush clematis—Clematis recta. This clematis grows like a perennial, dying back to the ground each year when hard freezes arrive. White, fragrant flowers appear in late spring to early summer, followed by more blooms later in the year. In the garden, grow Clematis recta like a shrub, although stems tend to tumble over without some kind of support. Many gardeners grow this pretty clematis beside taller perennials that give it a natural, easy support. To prune, in late winter or early spring, cut all stems back to 6 to 9 inches above a pair of strong, healthy buds. Vines grow 2 to 4 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3 to 9.
Kodiak Orange diervilla is a shrub for the ages. This native plant delivers bright leaf color all season long, drought tolerance, deer resistance and non-stop blooms. It’s also versatile, growing in sun or shade, including the tough environs of dry shade. Diervilla is undemanding—no pruning is needed to keep it in bounds. Leaves emerge orange and hold color through summer. Yellow flowers appear all summer long. Fall winds up the show with blazing orange-red leaves. Plants grow 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-7. Good to know: Diervilla isn’t picky about soil, thriving in moist or dry locations. It’s a good choice for erosion control on slopes.