Ideal bush to plant?
May 8, 2011 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Can you help us choose a bush to plant (specs inside)?

As a follow-on to this question, we need to choose a bush to plant in Virginia to fill a different empty space in our yard. Must have an overall green and white aspect (green leaves, white blossoms). Should be native and fragrant blossoms are a plus.
posted by Sissinghurst to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are certain species of Philadelphus that are native to the southeastern US. It has fragrant, white blossoms.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:54 PM on May 8, 2011

posted by contessa at 8:57 PM on May 8, 2011

Virginia Sweetspire is a green and white native shrub. It turns bright red in the fall, which may or may not be a bonus.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:11 PM on May 8, 2011

Hydrangea, in one of the white varieties.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:57 PM on May 8, 2011

Need a little more information here. How much light does the spot get? How acidic is the soil, and how well-drained? (Is it clayey, or sandy?) Do you have small children or pets that have a habit of grazing on shrubs and plants in your back yard? How frequently do you intend to water?

My first response would be either rhododendron or mountain laurel. Both are native to Virginia, but both do best in an area that is mostly shaded and gets watered frequently (we've set up an automatic watering system for our rhodies) and thrive in acidic soil (ours are underneath a row of white pines). They provide huge white clusters of blossoms in May and June and glossy green foliage the rest of the year. Leaves are toxic, if that's a concern.

We live in Illinois and love our rhodies because they remind us of the Appalachians, where we spent a couple of years.
posted by tully_monster at 9:59 PM on May 8, 2011

There's the snowball bush, for large dramatic white blossoms, or for fragance, white lilac.

I love hydrangeas, too, but find them unreliable as to color (which is part of their charm). Lacecap hydrangeas are absolutely gorgeous.
posted by torticat at 10:35 PM on May 8, 2011

Rhododendron viscosum have mostly white, fragrant flowers, as well as arborescens, atlanticum, and alabamense. Hydrangea radiata (which may or may not be easily found) is a lovely shrub with bright white flowers and dark green leaves with white undersides that flash in a breeze (and they are consistent in color).
posted by Red Loop at 3:24 AM on May 9, 2011

Dogwoods are native to the Southeast but I'm not sure how they fare in Virginia. The flowers come early though, before the leaves, so you wouldn't ever get green and white together. Redbuds are another southern early blooming small tree (bush-sized) and I think you can get white flowered ones.

Magnolias would definitely fit your criteria as long as it is warm enough. Some of them are tree-sized but I've seen smaller shrub-sized ones.
posted by hydrobatidae at 6:39 AM on May 9, 2011

torticat, to the best of my knowledge it's the blue and pink hydrangeas that will change color depending on soil pH. But if white lilac fits the OP's "native" requirement, I'm changing my vote.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:56 AM on May 9, 2011

Dogwoods are the state tree of Virginia! They are lovely. They are subject to diseases -- if you're considering one, maybe call your local cooperative extension agent and ask about the prevalence of dogwood diseases in your area. There are also some dogwood cultivars that have various disease resistances.

Mock orange (philadelphus) is lovely and easy.
Ditto hydrangeas (which come in many shapes and colors), rhododendrons, viburnums (small trees with white puffballs - like the snowball bush linked above).
Crape myrtle is another common low-maintenance plant for this application (comes in many colors).
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:24 PM on May 9, 2011

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