By HOLLY WHITE for Smart
Take the guesswork out of landscaping by knowing which plants will thrive in those trouble spots around the house.
Five plants you can’t kill
Eastern red cedars: Technically a juniper tree, they can grow up to 65 feet tall with dark red bark and soft green leaves.
Junipers: Ranging in size from low ground cover to trees, this evergreen shrub produces berries that are usually blue.
Hostas: These hearty plants have large green leaves that are sometimes trimmed in yellow or cream. They have long stems that produce small, bell-like flowers.
Day lilies: With long, slim leaves arching up to meet large, showy flowers, these usually bloom throughout the day with the flower closing at night.
Houttuynia: This ground-covering plant has small heart-shaped leaves that will flower in the summer with greenish-yellow buds.
Five plants that thrive in shade
Boxwoods: Often used for hedges, these evergreens grow slowly with small yellow flowers.
Russian cypress: This bright green, low-growing plant looks similar to the juniper.
Caladium: Known as elephant ears or angel wings, its leaves, which grow 6 to 18 inches long, have red centers and green edges.
Coleuses: They range in color from lime green to magenta and mixes of both. They can grow up to 2 feet tall with a large spread of leaves.
Rhododendrons: These bushes usually produce colorful flowers that have leaves spiral out below them.
Five plants that love moisture
Arborvitae: Similar to cedars, these evergreen trees have flattened branches.
Shrub willows: They have moist bark and long, trailing vines and leaves.
Dogwoods: These woody trees have small, four-petaled flowers that bloom in the spring.
Elderberries: Shrubs or small trees that have feather-like leaves and small white- or cream-colored flowers blooming in early spring, followed by black or red berries.
Black lace elderberries: They have dark, purple-black leaves reminiscent of Japanese maples and bloom with bright pink flowers in the summer, with a lemon scent.
Five flashy plants
Crape myrtles: Usually small trees or shrubs, they have small leaves and bloom in the spring and fall, when they’re covered with small, delicate flowers ranging in color from red to white to dark purple.
Double red knockout roses: Known as one of the easiest roses to grow, these flowers, which love the morning sun, have a double bloom and a bright color.
Gold thread cypress: This mound-like shrub maintains its shining color throughout the year as long as it’s in sunlight.
Nandina: These shrubs grow up to 20 feet tall. The nandina family has foliage that is pink and red in the spring before turning green. The leaves then turn orange and purple in autumn before they fall. In the summer, small white flowers bloom, and red berries follow.
Wave petunias: These annual, fluted flowers bloom throughout the warm months.
Five plants for ground cover
Sedums: There are more than 400 varieties, which grow in many types of soil.
Sempervivum: Their leaves grow in small rosettes very close to the ground. Their colors vary from March until June.
Japanese juniper: This plant grows lush and low to the ground, covering in a carpet of bright green.
Leadwort: Tiny blue or purple flowers cover this shrub that has pointed leaves that hug the ground.
Dwarf sweet box: Growing up to 8 feet wide on the ground, this plant is known for its green, glossy leaves and white buds.
Sources: Norman Roger, landscaper and owner of Rogers and Son Lawn Care and Landscaping, Dover; Brian Davis, arborist; John Zielinski, Hively Landscapes, Dover Township
Although some shrubs and plants used for landscaping produce berries, it’s best not to eat them, said John Zielinski of Hively Landscapes in Dover Township.
“My rule of thumb is you always always always teach children not to eat berries in the wild — or in the landscape,” he said.