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Monday - October 03, 2011

From: Weatherford, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Planting, Pruning, Drought Tolerant, Cacti and Succulents, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Sun loving plants for flower bed by the pool in Weatherford Texas
Answered by: Leslie Uppinghouse

QUESTION:

We have a 40' long x 2 1/2' wide flowerbed along our pool. It is in full sun with the pool deck across the front and a 6' privacy fence across back. Also, the level of the bed is 18" below the level of the pool deck. We would like to plant something to screen the fence and add visual interest since it can be seen from our living room. We are willing to have it cover part of the pool deck. We have tried coral honeysuckle and various shrubs, but they have all burned up. Salvia greggi is doing so so but is too short. help!

ANSWER:

When choosing a plant for a long skinny space, you need to pay attention to the plant size when it is fully mature. Plants rarely grow in straight lines and larger plants will be bushy. Bushier plants can sometimes look smashed in the back with a fence. So with that in mind you want to have something that will grow big but can handle a pruning now and then to keep its appearance uniform.

Also think about the look you are trying to create. It reads to us that you are looking for one species of plant to fill the area. You can do this, or you might want to consider planting a couple of species together. A deciduous bloomer combined with an evergreen gives you color and interest all year long. 

For a dramatic look all summer long, you can't go wrong with Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Flame acanthus). This deciduous Texas native shrub has tiny, bright, lime green leaves.  And cherry red tubular flowers that butterflies and hummingbirds love. It is native from West to South Texas and loves the heat and full sun. It is drought tolerant. Flame acanthus is a woody shrub but other than the main trunk the branches tend to be thin, therefore easy to prune. It averages roughly about three feet tall but can reach five to six feet if it is left to grow. One nice feature for Flame acanthus, is that it generally stays bushy as it gets big. Some bushes tend to become lanky as they grow older but Flame acanthus is as bushy at the bottom as it is at the top. So much so, that you might find it taking root at the lower branches and spreading. You can prune Flame acanthus to be a formal shrub and in fact you can prune it pretty severely without effecting its blooms. It does have a natural fluffiness that suites it when left to grow naturally.

Flame acanthus would be a great option, if you are looking for a singular statement plant, however this is a deciduous plant so if you like this idea, but would like to have something in the bed during the winter try and tuck in some Opuntia ellisiana (Spineless prickly pear) between your acanthus. You might not think about a cactus during the winter but these are tough plants, they can take the heat, drought and cold. They also grow pretty tall if left alone and they are easy to maintain. Although they do have small slivers that can irritate the skin they do not have spines so this would be a good option for a pool area. Don't worry too much if during the summer the acanthus swallow up your pears. The acanthus is light and air will flow through it enough for the pear to survive just fine. Then in the winter you will have lovely pear cactus you can decorate for the holidays.

There are many other options for you to choose from for your situation. By utilizing the Recommended Species section of the web site you can narrow your search by the appearance, light and the size requirements you are looking for. You can even choose the colors of the blooms, just like a paint store!

Below are some options to get you started. How you choose to combine them should be dictated by their maximum size and bloom times.

Lastly, there are two things to keep in mind when planting near a pool. Think about mess the leaves might make from season to season and try to keep any chemically treated pool water out of the bed. As your bed is considerably lower than your deck, make sure that when cleaning you pool, you are careful to keep that water out of the area.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue mistflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

Lantana urticoides (Texas lantana)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

 

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Flame acanthus
Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

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