10 Great Plants for the Front of Your House
My last post about planting things in front of the house that grow way too big angered many of you. Oh well, I always say hate mail is better than no mail. One request voiced by many was for a list of good plants for the front of the house. Here you go.
The following plants are quite varied but share two things. First, they’re compact growers, need little pruning, aren’t fussy to grow, won’t swallow your house, and deer won’t eat them. Second, they all belong to our Southern Living Plant Collection. Click on the link to read more about them and find local retailers in your area that carry them.
These Plants are Grumpy Gardener-Approved
‘Miss Lemon’ Abelia
This mounding evergreen features variegated leaves with edges that age from yellow to ivory. Light pink flowers attract pollinators all summer. It grows about three feet tall and four feet wide. ‘Miss Lemon’ likes full to part sun, well-drained soil, and is suited to USDA Zones 6 to 9. (The Southern Living Plants site includes a USDA Zone map.)
‘Emerald Snow’ Lororpetalum
Giant purple loropetalums are notorious for devouring houses, but ‘Emerald Snow’ won’t. This evergreen grows 4 to 6 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide. It features green leaves and showy, white flowers in spring. Give it full to part sun and acid, well-drained soil. I recommend it for USDA Zones 7 to 9. Prune it, if necessary, after it finishes blooming.
‘Baby Gem’ Japanese Boxwood
This highly improved, glossy-leafed boxwood slowly grows into a tidy muffin about 4 feet tall and wide. It does well in the ground or containers and is much more pest-resistant than English or American boxwood. It likes full to part sun and well-drained soil. Plant it in USDA Zones 4 to 9.
‘Light Show’ Red Bottlebrush
A good choice for people living in the milder parts of the South, this small, thin-leafed evergreen grows 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Showy red flowers that attract pollinators appear atop the foliage in summer and fall. Give it full sun and well-drained soil. It tolerates drought and salt air (good choice for the beach) and thrives in USDA Zones 8 to 10.
Many people hate nandina and if you’re one of them, maybe this new kind will change your mind. ‘Obsession’ is dense and compact, grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, doesn’t get naked at the bottom, and its roots don’t spread. It also doesn’t bloom or produce toxic berries, so you don’t have to fret about poisoning those dear cedar waxwings. New foliage emerges bright red. Grow ‘Obsession’ in sun or light shade and well-drained soil in USDA Zones 6 to 9.
I give Charlotte landscape architect Jay Sifford constant grief about planting swaths of ‘Everillo’ carex on every single one of his jobs, but it’s easy to see why he does. This mounding grass-like perennial glows bright chartreuse yellow all year. Growing 12 to 18 inches tall and wide, it’s great for lining paths, illuminating shady areas, growing in containers, and mixing with blue, orange, deep green, or burgundy plants. It likes part sun to shade, takes some drought, and deer don’t like it. Plant in in USDA Zones 5 to 9.
‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia
Glorioski, do I love this plant! Growing about three feet tall and wide, this graceful evergreen boasts soft-textured foliage reminiscent of bamboo that’s great for combining with coarser plants like hydrangeas. Pretty yellow flowers crown the shrub in winter. It thrives in part sun or shade in moist, well-drained soil. Plug it into a border or grow it in a container. It’s suited to USDA Zones 7 to 9 and not on Bambi’s menu.
‘Mojo’ Japanese Pittosporum
Tolerant of wind, sandy soil, drought, and salt spray, this compact evergreen is great for the beach, but thrives in suburbia too. Unlike other forms of pittosporum that get huge, ‘Mojo’ reaches only three feet tall and wide, perfect for planting under windows. It combines handsome, variegated foliage with sweetly fragrant spring flowers. Give it sun and well-drained soil. Deer turn up their noses at it. Grow it in USDA Zones 7 to 10.
‘Chef’s Choice’ Rosemary
Why run out to the herb garden for a sprig of rosemary for cooking, when you can clip one or two at the foot of your front steps? Flaunting showy blue flowers in spring, ‘Chef’s Choice’ also boasts a high oil content in its needles – very welcome in the kitchen. In the garden or a container, this tidy, carefree evergreen forms a mound about 12 inches high and 18 inches wide. Deer hate it. Grow it in sun and well-drained soil in UDSA Zones 7 to 10.
‘Jewel Box' Distylium
Looking for a nifty, easy-to-grow alternative to all-too-common boxwood, azalea, juniper, and holly? Give ‘Jewel Box’ distylium a go. Don’t let the fact that it’s new and you’ve never heard of it dissuade you. Soft, thin, evergreen leaves line its refined, layered branches. Small red flowers adorn it in winter. ‘Jewel Box’ tops out at 2 to 3 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide. Deer usually don’t bother it. It tolerates heat, drought, and wet soil and enjoys sun or light shade in USDA Zones 7 to 9.