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Mr. Smarty Plants - Tall perennials for a sunny North Carolina border

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Monday - March 26, 2012

From: charlotte , NC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Planting, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Tall perennials for a sunny North Carolina border
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I need border plants for in front of a picket fence along front sidewalk. Space is only approx 1'6" wide and widening is not an option. So far I have daylilies, cannas, Mexican petunias, daisies, irises, and some spring flowering bulbs..the irises are the only ones that provide any winter interest as they don't lose the foliage. Any suggestions re other small sized plants, preferably evergreen (tall, ok, just not wide) that would look good in this space? area is mostly full sun.

ANSWER:

I didn't find any truly evergreen native plants that seemed appropriate for your requirements, but there are many that are tall with a relatively small footprint.  The first five do bloom in autumn, perhaps even into November and December, giving you some late color: Gentianopsis crinita (Greater fringed gentian),  Liatris aspera (Tall blazing star), Liatris spicata (Dense blazing star), Phlox paniculata (Fall phlox), and a Mexican native Salvia elegans (Pineapple sage).  These additional species should also do well in your area.  Ipomopsis rubra (Standing cypress), Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot), Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan), Penstemon canescens (Eastern gray beardtongue), Penstemon australis (Eustis lake beardtongue),Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)Penstemon digitalis (Mississippi penstemon), and Physostegia virginiana (Fall obedient plant).  The Fall obedient plant, in particular, tends to spread quickly, but the new shoots can be easily pulled up.

You can find more possible species at the North Carolina Native Plant Society web site.  A list of native plant suppliers in your area is found at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web site.

Images of some of the plants mentioned above are shown below, courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Image Gallery.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Standing cypress
Ipomopsis rubra

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Greater fringed gentian
Gentianopsis crinita

Eastern gray penstemon
Penstemon canescens

Eustis lake penstemon
Penstemon australis

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Tall blazing star
Liatris aspera

Dense blazing star
Liatris spicata

Fall phlox
Phlox paniculata

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Mississippi penstemon
Penstemon digitalis

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