I am at a loss at what to plant by my back deck. I have a crape myrtle there now that is struggling because I think it’s too shady. I would like an ornamental tree, small that blooms. I am new to Kentucky and not too familiar with what to plant. I really want my yard to pop with plants. All the nurseries suggest is hydrangeas and I already have limelight hydrangeas planted elsewhere. Thank you!
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Susan: Welcome to Kentucky! Crape Myrtle are best grown in full sun or at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. All plants and trees have their own specific growing requirements. When they are not given ideal conditions, they will not bloom well, and will be more susceptible to disease and insect problems. If your Crape Myrtle is not getting sufficient sunlight, this is likely the problem. Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) and Cornus mas (Cornelain Cherry Dogwood) are smaller flowering options that prefer shade. Not to be confused with the Chinese Dogwood, Cornus Kousa. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) and Witchazel (Hamamelis virginiana) are also good choices. We are lucky in Kentucky to have a long growing season and the opportunity to grow many different landscape plants. Hydrangeas are lovely but certainly not the only option. Take the time to figure out the available sunlight, soil conditions, and planting space. It is difficult to give specific recommendations without knowing this information. Choose native, disease resistant plants that will thrive in the growing conditions that you can provide. Pay attention to mature size and bloom time. Choose plants that flower at different times throughout the growing season. Evergreens and plants that offer winter interest should be part of the design. A well-planned garden has year-round interest. Work in small areas and then gradually grow the garden. Measure the space and sketch out a plan. Take this with you to your local garden center/nurseries. Pictures are helpful too when asking for landscaping advice. If you get overwhelmed, hire a landscape designer to help create a garden with lots of flowers that you can enjoy for years to come.
Kentucky Living-Ask the Gardener