Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Plant Identification from Clarksville TN
May 04, 2013 - We live on a north facing wooded ridge line in Middle TN. I have a single large (6') bush that is blooming now (late April) with beautiful 6" long, end of stem clusters of small pink flowers in 3-5...
view the full question and answer

Foundation plants for Albuquerque.
July 01, 2012 - Hello, I live in Albuquerque. I am looking for some native/xeric low water usage plants for foundation plants for my home. They will be foundation plants for a two story home that has a large ponde...
view the full question and answer

Drought-Tolerant, Evergreen Groundcover for CA
August 21, 2014 - We are looking for a drought tolerant, evergreen groundcover for California. I am considering Sarcococca hookeriana and Cotoneaster dammeri but don't know if they're the best options for the area. I...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen for Reading MA
June 27, 2012 - Best tree to grow for a privacy screen - Hello, we recently moved into a new house in Reading and have an open area on the side of our house where we can make a privacy screen from our neighbors. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Shade loving plants with color for Irving, Texas
July 01, 2010 - Looking for shade loving perennials or annuals with color - native and low water. Live in Irving, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.