As much of the U.S. (and Europe) copes with warmer heat waves, you may be looking for plants that can thrive in hot sun. Blue plants often fit this profile since they create a waxy coating that protects them from hot sun and helps them hold water. And what’s even more enjoyable for us is that waxy coating makes them appear blue, thus creating an unusually pretty accent in the garden.
So if you want a tough, interesting looking plant, try these three below. They pair well with dark-leafed plants or boldy colored perennials.
Blue Star Juniper
I love this little sub-shrub because it’s hardy down to zone 4, evergreen, and wonderfully dense in its foliage. That means it shades weeds out easily. Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ also requires very little supplemental water, which is handy if you’re planting a city parking strip or rock garden. Also, it won’t grow beyond about a foot or so in height but spreads gently in all directions. I have five lining the front of a sunny perennial bed and they work well with purple sedums, ajuga, or salvias (see top photo).
Blue Surprise Falsecypress
Blue Surprise False Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Blue Surprise’) is a small evergreen tree that stuns in the landscape. It’s bluer in color than vertical juniper trees, albeit those are pretty too. But I like this tree because it’s very behaved in its form. You won’t ever need to prune it unless it creates a few dead lower branches. And it adds a lovely spire-like accent to a mixed shrub border. I have two flanking a small circular patio in an area blasted by hot sun. Hardy to zone 5 and gets to about 10 feet tall at maturity. Great for front entrances or where space is tight.
Blue Limber Pine
I normally don’t care for pine trees. They often drop needles and sometimes need pruning at the tips, but I love this Blue Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis ‘Cesarini Blue’). It grows in a small, puffy, pyramidal shape so it’s great for screening out unwanted views. Also, it’s hardy to zone 4 and can take dry areas. In fact, since it’s a pine, it will probably do better in a garden in Colorado with dryer, colder winters than in the rainy Pacific Northwest. At maturity, it tops out at 20 feet but during the first several years will hang out at around 10 feet. Unusual specimen.
I realized in writing this that I happened to choose three conifers so in a future post, I’ll spotlight some blue-leafed perennials. I’m thinking hosta, euphorbia, rue, and more. Until then, happy planting!