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Featured This Week - July 27 - August 2

Butterfly Bush (Buddleja)

For fragrant flowers all summer long, consider adding a butterfly bush to your sunny garden this year! Aptly-named, the bright flowers serve as an important nectar source for butterflies, honeybees, and bumblebees. We have many different colors to choose from, and mature sizes range from 2 to 12 feet. The blue-green foliage adds a nice contrast in the garden even when the bush isn’t flowering. And it’s deer resistant! Concerned about spreading from seed? Most varieties we carry are low-seed or seedless.
priced $24.99 and up

Look for these NATIVE TREES that qualify for the
  • Eastern Redbud
  • Southern Magnolia
  • Sourwood
  • Black Gum/Tupelo
  • Sweetbay Magnolia
  • Hackberry
  • Dogwood
  • White Oak
  • Serviceberry
  • Pin Oak
  • Red Maple
  • N. Red Oak
(Tree must cost $50 or more after sale to qualify for program)


Miri's Favorite Natives... for a naturally beautiful yard

Miri is the Woody Plants Buyer at Behnke Nurseries. She is big into natives and has steadily been increasing your choices here at the nursery for several years. When shopping for native trees and shrubs look for the BaySafe Symbol on the upper left-hand corner of the plant signs. And take advantage of these beautiful picks.

Native plants are critical for the environment. Many serve as food sources for native insects, which in turn are food sources for birds and other animals, ah the circle of life! Unfortunately, most native insects are unable to feed on non-native plants. So, to keep that circle going, it is critical that gardeners include native plants in their landscapes. Furthermore, since native plants are well adapted to our local climate and native soil, they will require less care than many non-natives.

When you shop at Behnke's, pick up our free Behnke BaySafe® Plants brochure. The plants listed are not only great for the environment but also offer ornamental qualities; attractive flowers, fruits, foliage and bark. So, you can improve the environment around your home and beautify your garden at the same time.
Virginia Sweetspire (Itea)

Also named for sweetly fragrant flowers, this shrub blooms in late spring with drooping white spires that draw a lot of pollinators. Fall is really the peak season of interest for Sweetspire, though, as they turn a brilliant medley of burgundy, maroon, scarlet, orange and gold.

Young stems can also be a dark red in winter not unlike a redtwig Dogwood, and therefore stand out nicely against snow or a dark green backdrop. These, too, will sucker if happy, but are similarly not considered thuggish in their tenacity. In fact, that trait makes for great soil stabilization on slopes or in swales where water rushes past in a rainstorm.

Also helpful in rain gardens, Sweetspire only asks for full to part sun and non-swampy soil to grow well. I have seen many between the boulders on trails at Great Falls, happily blooming and turning beautiful colors in fall with what little soil, nutrients and water they get in their little rock pockets.
Ninebark (Physocarpus)

This is another of my favorite natives because of its multi-season interest. Textured leaves come in shades of gold, reddish-copper, bronze-red and plum-burgundy, all of which develop brighter scarlet tones for fall. The name for Ninebark derives from the tendency for older stems to develop peeling bark – not as dramatic as that of a River Birch, but still a bit decorative for those who appreciate detail.

Flowers (a popular nectar source) are domed ivory clusters in spring, and when pollinated they develop seed pods that turn bright red before aging to a dry brown (several bird species enjoy these). Growth habits on taller-growing varieties can be a bit wild and rangy, but a simple yearly trim will keep them more formal-looking if that’s what you prefer. Our display plant only gets one haircut a year and minimal care and thrives. This is another native I see amongst the rocks at Great Falls always looking good, even in high summer.
Summersweet / Sweet Pepperbush - (Clethra)

Very aptly named, this shrub will impress you with its sweet scent in the middle of summer when fewer fragrant plants are flowering. Flowers are white or pink spires that are highly attractive to bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

They are most abundant on plants grown in full sun, but Summersweet can be found growing wild in many a shady location, so their
adaptability should be put to good use if you have more wooded conditions. Wetter soils are a not a problem, and happy plants in moist spots can sucker to form a colony, though they aren’t overly aggressive. Leaves turn bright yellow in fall and are late to re-appear in spring, so don’t worry if they take longer to wake-up in spring than other shrubs.

Dwarf forms fit well under windows and in mixed perennial beds while taller forms are good back-of-the-border plants and accents. I always recommend them for wildlife gardens and rain gardens, and our display plant here has prospered for years with no maintenance.
Bayberry / Waxmyrtle (Myrica or Morella)

Despite having “bay” in the name, you can find these shrubs a bit inland as well, though generally in faster-draining soils. They are more prevalent at the beach, though, where their tolerance for salt spray and growing in nearly pure sand earns them respect for tolerating harsh conditions.

Like legumes, Bayberry can fix atmospheric nitrogen and can survive in impoverished soils (such as sand) with minimal fertilizer. The highly aromatic foliage is unpalatable to deer, and birds enjoy the waxy berries which once were used to make bayberry candles.

Bayberry is either male or female, however, so to get berries on the female plants you need at least one male in the vicinity; unfortunately, nurseries rarely know which one they have (or they have a mix), so it’s a bit of pot-luck as to whether a grouped planting will gift you with any berries. Being a wild species and not a cultivar (save for one type of dwarf Southern Bayberry), height will also be pot-luck because the genes will be a mixed bag. Generally, though, nutrient-rich soils produce taller plants, and they stay fairly stunted or slow-growing at the beach.

More Native Trees and Shrubs

Inkberry (Ilex glabra)

Our most cold-hardy evergreen holly, these spineless shrubs are great foundation plants that also serve as rain garden candidates, hedges for minimal pruning, and in native gardens.

Crossvine (Bignonia)

On the fence in our 'big evergreens' area is a native Crossvine (Bignonia 'Dragon Lady'). It's a beauty! The big red-orange blooms appear in late spring and are a good source of nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies. In additional, it's deer resistant and excellent for screening.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier)

Multi- or single-stemmed small trees, these white-floweringnativesbloom in the spring, ripen delicious purple berries in summer (much to songbird's delight), and get orange and golden fall foliage.

Smooth gray bark gives them a pleasing winter look and they are good candidates for rain gard

A few of our Favorite Woody Plants


With both spring and fall blooming varieties to choose from, camellias can add color to your garden over a long period of time. In bold reds, soft pinks or pure whites, these beautiful flowers will pop out when little else is blooming.

Depending on the variety, the flowers may be rosettes, semi-doubles, anemone shaped or singles, and may range in size from 1 inch to 6 inches across. Aside from the flowers, the foliage is also a nice addition to the garden. The glossy, dark green leaves are evergreen and add to the garden year round. Mature camellia varieties range in size from 3 foot shrubs to 14 foot (or more) small trees.

Azaleas produce one of the biggest flowering shows in the spring. In white and shades of pink, red, purple, coral and bi-colors, the flowers brighten shady garden areas and appear in clusters of single, semi-double and double.
Otto Luyken - Cherry Laurel:

Move over Japanese holly and boxwood, there's another evergreen in town! Cherry laurel is an evergreen shrub that most will recognize as a common foundation evergreen.

Tough and adaptable, they will grow in sun or shade, moist or dry areas, and are even fairly unpalatable to deer. You can trim them (or not) and use them as hedges, screening, or simple accents. Otto Luyken is a common variety that tends to grow between 3-5 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide.

If in enough sun (and not heavily trimmed), they will produce sweetly fragrant white flower spikes in mid-spring.

Several types of these shrubs grow well here, and all offer summer flowers and attractive foliage. Some do best in sun, others mostly shade. They range in size from 3-foot dwarves to 20-foot vines. 
Crape Myrtles:

With summer flowers in red, pink, lavender, violet and white, these low-maintenance shrubs or small trees also reward us with colorful fall foliage and smooth, peeling bark. Most pests (including deer) and diseases leave them alone. Mature sizes ranging from under 3 feet to over 20 feet. 
Little Lime & Limelight:

Panicle Hydrangeas: A must for summer to fall color in the garden. These beauties are some of the hardiest hydrangeas around. They bloom in July and August, starting with pale green conical flower clusters that turn white and age to pink. While Limelight's flower clusters are 6-12 inches long, Little Lime's are about a third that size. In the fall the foliage takes over turning from dark green to shades of yellow, burnt-orange and rusty-red. Overall Limelight is the larger and showier at 6 to 8 feet tall and wide while Little Lime is well suited for a smaller area at 3 to 5 feet tall and wide. They both like a sun to part sun area and neither will let you down when it comes to a show.
Liriope muscari:

Yes, you see this ground cover everywhere, BUT there's a reason for that, it's super reliable, forming wonderful clumps of vase-shaped green or variegated foliage that mound and spread out slowly. Liriope requires very little maintenance and even produces a lovely violet-blue flower spike in late summer. These are very reliable plants that will grow in part shade and sun. Use in borders or as spot plants throughout a garden to visually separate other plants.
Native Plants:

Though spring is already behind us, we still have a good selection of native shrubs available. Wildlife will benefit from the addition of many of these plants, which offer nectar, seed, or other vital habitat ingredients for birds, bees, butterflies and other animals.

Native Plants are well-adapted to our local climate and native soil, and, in turn, they require less care than many non-natives.

BaySafe® Plants also offer ornamental qualities; attractive flowers, fruits, foliage and bark. You can improve the environment around your home and beautify your garden at the same time.
Knockout Roses:

These Roses truly are a Knockout! Knockout roses in yellow, red, pink, double red and double pink make incredible displays blooming all summer, low maintenance, great disease resistance. It's no wonder they are so popular. 


Boxwoods are a tried-and-true evergreen, with a taste that deer disdain and tolerance of a wide range of conditions. Two hybrids, Green Velvet and Green Mountain, were hybridized from Korean and English boxwoods to combine great leaf color and hardiness. Unlike some boxwoods, which can blush a caramel-orange in the winter, these stay deep green and are hardy below -10°. Suitable for foundations, hedges, accents and containers, these boxwoods have moderate growth and even shapes with little to no trimming.

Green Velvet will be rounded and reach about 4' tall and wide in ten years; Green Mountain will be more conical, at 5' high by 3' wide. They will take full sun to mostly shade, though are happiest in about half sun-half shade. They will take clay in stride if given enough drainage, but perform better with soil enriched with compost. Any trimming you wish to do is best done in early spring, so the new growth can cover up the cuts.

Gold Mops - Chamaecyparis:

A descriptive name to be sure, "Gold Mops" is a soft, graceful evergreen that will add that golden splash of color to any spot in a sunny garden or container. Named for its upside-down mop look, it will form a tidy mound of yellow foliage (interior leaves are green) year-round.

Not prone to pest or disease problems, and needing little to no regular pruning, they're a great accent to frame a doorway, driveway, or brighten that special spot it the yard. Plus, deer usually leave them alone!
Twist N Shout Hydrangeas:

Why plant Twist-n-Shout? - like other hydrangeas in the "Endless Summer Collection," they bloom on both old and new growth, so the blooming season is extended - they are lacecap hydrangeas: small bud-like flowers in the center surrounded by large, showy ones, giving them a delicate, lacy effect - they provide multi-season interest with sturdy red stems and deep green leaves that turn burgundy in the fall - at maturity, they only reach 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, making them perfect as a foundation or container plant

Crape Myrtles:

There's not many shrubs that can give you summer color like Crape myrtles and Butterfly Bush. There are so many heights and colors of crape myrtle available now that there's room for one in every garden. Peeling bark, summer flowers and colorful fall leaves make them multi-season winners! Butterfly bush also come in many colors and heights now, and several new introductions also have very low (or no) seed set to prevent unwanted volunteers and increased flower production. All are fragrant and live up to their name as butterfly magnets. Plant both crapemyrtle and butterfly bush in full sun and well-drained soil and they will reward you with color for years to come!


You can hardly do better than a blueberry for a multi-season, multi-use shrub! Flowers in spring start out with pinkish buds and open to white bells, and then provide you and the birds with crops of beautiful, tasty blue treats in summer. (Or pink! There's a new pink-fruited blueberry out now, called Pink Lemonade.)

Foliage is seldom bothered by insects or disease, and gives you great burgundy, red, orange and/or yellow fall color. Bare stems in winter can be blushed orange and yellow on young bark. Give blueberries full sun if you want to maximize your harvest; in the wild you can find them in open woods where they receive partial shade, though they don't fruit as heavily.

Soil should be well-drained and fairly acidic, which you can achieve with adding sulfur to your soil and monitoring the pH with a simple test kit. Aim for around 5.0 or even slightly lower. Blueberries are better equipped to handle wet conditions if in strongly acidic conditions, as this suppresses disease. Holly-Tone makes a great all-purpose fertilizer, and no regular trimming is needed. Both Highbush and Lowbush species of blueberry are native to the mid-Atlantic. If you have deer, you might need to net the plants to prevent browsing, but that will save more berries from the birds for you to enjoy.


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