'Orange Blossom Special' dwarf pomegranate. Photo: PDSI.

Do you fear your summer garden will be duller than "The Great Gatsby?" Fear not! Grumpy has selected a trio of colorful shrubs to keep your garden partying from now until fall.

1. 'Orange Blossom Special' dwarf pomegranate. Grumpy loves this plant for so many reasons! It blooms nonstop from spring through fall, it's pest-free, it's drought-resistant, deer won't eat it, and it stays small and compact so it needs little pruning. That's why it's part of our Southern Living Plant Collection. It's perfect for a container. It's evergreen too.

No, this isn't an edible pomegranate. It's purely ornamental. For a list of garden centers near you that carry it, click on the Southern Living Plant Collection link above. Here are its vital stats and preferred growing conditions.

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide Light: Full to partial sun Hardiness: Cold-hardy outside to about 10 degrees. USDA Zone 7. If winter gets colder in your area, bring it inside to a cool room for winter. Soil: Well-drained Watering: Do not overwater! This is critical. Let soil go dry between thorough waterings. Do not let it sit in a water-filled saucer. Fertilizer: Feed with organic, slow-release fertilizer in spring. I recommend Plant-tone 5-3-3. Prune: Winter or spring, but seldom needed

 

'Purple Pixie' dwarf loropetalum. Photo: Ralph Anderson.

2. 'Purple Pixie' dwarf loropetalum. There are a zillion purple loropetalums out there, but only one 'Purple Pixie.' (It's also in our Southern Living Plant Collection.) Unlike many loropetalums that get huge, this one stays low with a cascading habit. You can plant it as a ground cover, but I love it for containers. I have one growing in a container that's more that 3 feet tall. 'Purple Pixie' spills out of it all the way to the ground. You can't see the pot any more. This shrub is also pest-, drought-, and deer-resistant.

'Purple Pixie' keeps its deep purple foliage year-round. During cold winters, it may get a little bald on top, but then quickly recovers once the weather warms. Bright pink flowers appear in early spring. Vital stats and preferred growing conditions:

Size: 1 to 2 feet high, 4 to 5 feet wide Light: Full to partial sun Hardiness: Cold-hardy to about 5 degrees (USDA Zone 7) Soil: Acid, well-drained, lots of organic matter Watering: Needs only occasional watering once established Fertilizer: Feed in spring with Plant-tone 5-3-3 Prune: In spring after flowers fade

 

'Bloomerang' purple lilac. Photo: Proven Winners.

3. 'Bloomerang' lilac. Peeps, I know what you're thinking. Doesn't lilac bloom just in spring? And doesn't it fail to bloom in warm climates? Not this one! It's a break-through from Proven Winners. It looks like a lilac, smells like a lilac, but unlike other lilacs it blooms not only in spring, but off and on through the summer -- even in the Lower South (USDA Zone 8A). This blows Grumpy's mind!

Now let me qualify my enthusiasm. When I say it repeat blooms, I mean it blooms heavily in spring and then lightly again in the summer. But the fact that a lilac with the cherished lilac fragrance blooms at all in the South is something to cheer. Plus the blooms attract butterflies and deer don't eat it. Look for 'Bloomerang' in garden centers. Vital stats and growing conditions:

Size: 4 to 5 feet tall and wide Light: Full sun Hardiness: Good for USDA Zones 3 to 8A Soil: fertile, well-drained Watering: Needs only occasional watering once established Fertilizer: Feed in spring with Plant-tone 5-3-3 Prune: Clip off old flowers as they fade

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