En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - May 22, 2009

From: Livonia, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Perennial summer blooming plant for Livonia, MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I want to find a plant that I can cut back in the fall, will come back in the spring, flower throughout the summer, be a medium size plant, no taller than 48", about 36" in diameter. It would get full sun in the morning but afternoon time the shade kicks in. What plant/perennial can I plant? Something with color and full.

ANSWER:

Ordinarily, when we speak of perennials, we are thinking of herbaceous flowering plants that bloom, set seed, die back to the ground in winter, and re-emerge from the roots in the spring. Your specifications sound more like a blooming bush, which would likely be deciduous, losing its leaves in the fall, but could be of the size you want. We will go to our Recommended Species for Michigan, and search on "shrub" under habit, "part shade" (from 2 to 6 hours of sun a day) under Light Requirements and bloom times of June, July and August. That won't mean the plants we find will bloom all summer, but will bloom at some point during those months. We will list these for you and then you can follow the plant links to the individual pages on each individual plant, learn what size it can be expected to reach, colors, etc. When we ran this search, we got 17 results, and chose 4 that came closest to your specifications. You can repeat the process, using different specifications and make your own choices. Most of these shrubs will benefit from some pruning back in the fall, but some may be better pruned in the spring after they have bloomed. Your USDA Hardiness Zone appears to be Zone 5b (average annual minimum temperature of -20 to -15 deg. F) so any plant recommended for Michigan should be all right in Wayne County in Southeastern Michigan. 

Blooming shrubs for Michigan

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) - evergreen, 6 to 12 ft., blooms white, pink from June to September, high water use, part shade or shade

Diervilla lonicera (northern bush honeysuckle) - deciduous, to 3 ft. tall, blooms red, orange, yellow, purple June to August, low water use, part shade or shade

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort) - deciduous, to 3 ft. tall, blooms yellow June to August, high water use, part shade or shade

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet) - deciduous, 3 to 6 ft. tall, blooms white June to September, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade


Cephalanthus occidentalis

Diervilla lonicera

Hypericum prolificum

Spiraea alba

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Knife Acacia or Shrubs for Austin
April 07, 2011 - Hello, Do you know if knife acacia is a suitable plant for North Austin? Does it have sharp leaves or thorns? How large and full does it get? We are looking to replace our existing pampas grass...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on slope from Columbia SC
April 25, 2013 - We are in the process of having a new home built in Columbia South Carolina. Part of the front yard has a steep slope starting approximately four feet from the corner of the house and running to the ...
view the full question and answer

Red buckeye not blooming in NY
July 04, 2011 - I planted my red buckeye in September 2007 and it was about 18 inches tall. It is now a few inches short of 5ft. tall. I have had it in the ground for nearly 4 yrs and it has never bloomed. I have fr...
view the full question and answer

Rejuvenating an old Wax myrtle hedge
February 15, 2016 - I have 8 wax myrtles that were planted about 9 years ago as a screen from our neighbors. They are about 12 feet high. During the past 9 months they are getting thinner and thinner. Two of them hav...
view the full question and answer

Berries on cultivars of Ilex verticillata from Oak Park, IL
February 19, 2014 - I have three ilex verticillata cultivars (2 Nana, 1 Jim Dandy) planted on the west side of my house in a very shady site (there's a mature over-spreading hackberry on the parkway just to the west and...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center