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Want Blooms In Late Summer? Plant These Three Flowering Shrubs

smoketree
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This blooming branch is from the smokebush, or scumpia. These bushes provide late summer color when other blooming trees have faded.

We’re used to seeing shrubs like lilacs, rhododendrons and forsythia bloom in spring. And if you look out into your lawn and landscape right now, those shrubs are nice and green but no longer showing off any bright colors.

There are a handful of summer-blooming shrubs that you can incorporate into your landscape to add some pizzazz to your yard.

Blooming shrubs that will flower in late summer come in various sizes and colors. Some to consider are smoke bush, summersweet and hardy hibiscus.

Smoke bush or cotinus, is blooming right now and it can grow to be quite large. When choosing a place to plant this shrub, which is essentially the size of a tree, keep in mind that it can grow to be 10-to-12 feet tall and wide.

Smoke bush grows green leaves and cotton-candy-like flowers or plumes that come in colors ranging from cream to pink and burgundy.

One variety of smoke bush is called, “Velvet Cloak,” with burgundy colored leaves and flowers that show their colors in the fall.

If you have less space, the smoke bush variety called, "Lila Smoke" only grows to about four feet tall.

Another smaller flowering bush that grows in part sun is called clethra or summersweet or pepperbush. Its flowers are spiky and spicy-smelling.

Summersweet grows to be between three and six feet tall with fragrant white candles on it. Summersweet makes a good bee and butterfly plant, too. And try to place this one near a porch or patio so you can enjoy the fragrance in the evening.

A summersweet variety called, “Ruby Spice" has red flowers that grow well in part shade and well-drained soil. And because it's small, you can put it close to the house and it won't overwhelm anything.

The third late-summer flowering shrub is technically an herbaceous perennial, the hardy hibiscus.

This shrub grows to about two to three feet tall with disc-like flowers that range from white to pink to red.

The “Kopper King” version of hardy hibiscus has burgundy-colored leaves as well as flowers.

The hardy hibiscus are true stand-outs in a landscape and will get folks’ attention as they walk or drive by your yard.

Among these flowering shrubs, you’ll find plenty of choices for late summer color!

Q: Last year we hoped to build up our rhubarb bed. We added another layer of beams at the front and more composted manure at the top. I think we buried the crowns too deeply. What's the best way to fix our mistake? - Eileen, in Brownington

Rhubarb likes moisture and adding lots of organic matter is a good idea. But rhubarb also likes well-drained soil. Next spring when it first starts coming out, dig the rhubarb plant out of that bed and put it in a raised bed that has a nice mix of different kinds of compost and topsoil. It should do really well there.

Q: As our tomato vines attempt to take over the entire garden, can we just snip off all the new growth? Does it hurt the plant at all? - Anne Marie, in Pawlet

You can prune tomatoes but the timing is critical. If you're growing large-variety indeterminate tomatoes like Brandywine, or Cherokee purple, start by pruning off the new suckers at the top of the plant between the main stem and the side branch. Those will eventually flower and fruit.

You can be pinching and pruning those out the bottom leaves, too. Take the leaves off from the stem that's a foot or two off the ground.

As far as pruning back the height of the plant, wait another month. Towards the end of August, you can prune back the plant’s height with the idea that you're helping the fruits that are already set to ripen.

Next week, we'll tackle your questions about plant diseases, so send them along.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

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Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on VPR. Be part of the fun and send your gardening questions here, for Charlie to answer on the air. Plus, find lots of great gardening tips and information for all seasons here. For more gardening information, check out Charlie's website, Gardening with Charlie Nardozzi. Charlie is a guest on VPR's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
Mary Engisch is the host and reporter for Weekend Edition Saturday and Weekend Edition Sunday on VPR.