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Keep plants from being ‘Gone with the Wind’

Windy duo — Purple-blue spikes and aromatic, silvery stems of Russian sage complement a pink Carefree Delight shrub rose. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Windy duo — Purple-blue spikes and aromatic, silvery stems of Russian sage complement a pink 'Carefree Delight' shrub rose. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Most of us know to select plants that will do well in sun or shade or wet or dry soil. But what about the wind?

The wind can be a damaging element for hanging baskets, for instance, where petunias or geraniums can take the sun and heat but get beat up by the breeze.

Besides shredding plants, the wind dries them out. This holds especially true on waterfront properties, open landscapes with no wind breaks and narrow spaces that tunnel the wind. And the wind is not just a problem for summer annuals. Gardeners also must select perennials, shrubs and trees that can withstand windy landscapes in all seasons.

Look for trees and shrubs that have a low center of gravity, widespread and strong, flexible branches. Also look for plants with smaller or narrow leaves, where there’s less surface to dry out. Waxy or thick leaves also do better in wind.

Here’s a sampling of plants for windy, Indiana landscapes:

  • Shrubs: bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), Cotoneaster, boxwood (Buxus), shrub roses (Rosa rugosa) and gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa).
  • Trees: oaks (Quercus) do very well in wind, as do many pines (Pinus), ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) and Kentucky coffee bean (Gymnocladus diocus).
  • Perennials: Russian sage (Perovskia), threadleaf coreopsis (Corepsis verticillata), daylily (Hemerocallis), red hot poker (Kniphofia), salvias (Salvia), lavender (Lavendula), coneflowers (Echinacea purpruea), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), flax (Linium), Aster, false aster (Boltonia asteroides).

For annuals in containers, the wind means extra diligence with watering and pruning. Hanging baskets or other pots may need to be watered two times a day, depending on their size and placement in the landscape. Cut back scraggly growth by about half. This shapes up annuals and boosts thick new growth that will likely color the container into fall. Make sure to fertilizer plants in containers to keep them blooming. Read and follow the label directions.

Knock (Us) Out contest
Conard-Pyle Co., which introduced the popular Knock Out roses, is looking for the best Knock (Us) Out photos showing creative use of the roses in a home and commercial landscape. The competition is open to professional and amateur photographers, gardeners and landscapers.

Grand prize winners will receive $350, plus five Knock Out rosesand 10 companion plants selected by Conard-Pyle Co. Runners-up willreceive $150, plus five Knock Out roses. Deadline is Oct. 31. For moreinfo: www.theknockoutrose.com

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