From the salt marshes and sand dunes of the Chesapeake Bay and the rolling hills and rich farmlands of the Piedmont to the Alleghenies' forested peaks, Maryland has an enormous diversity of native flowering shrubs. Each has adapted to the growing conditions in its particular patch of the Old Line State, providing food and shelter for wildlife along the way. Used appropriately, native shrubs will bring weeks or months of colorful blooms and autumn foliage to your Maryland garden.
Sea myrtle (Baccharis halimifolia) is a 6- to 12-foot shrub that grows in Maryland's coastal plain salt marshes and in the state's inland wet areas. The only plant in the aster family to reach tree size, sea myrtle has dense branches with dark gray-green leaves. Its clusters of tiny white flowers appear between August and October. They attract butterflies and other nectar-gathering insects. Wildlife shelter in the shrub's heavy cover. Sea myrtle's most interesting landscape features, however, are the delicate silver-gray plumes that replace its spend female flowers in the fall. They resemble silver paintbrushes, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Salt spray-tolerant sea myrtle belongs to a handful of Eastern U.S. shrubs that survive Maryland's shoreline growing conditions. It requires partial shade and wet, slightly acidic sandy or sandy loam soil. Sea myrtle grows quickly and is effective for erosion control.
Found along the stream banks and in the damp woods of Maryland's coastal plain, arrowwood vibiurnum (Viburnum dentatum) is a shrub of the honeysuckle family. Typically reaching between 6 and 10 feet high with an equal spread, it has arching branches with deep-green toothed leaves that provide red or yellow autumn color. White yellow-stamened flowers appear between May and July in showy clusters up to 4 inches across, attracting butterflies. Hanging clusters of dark-purple berries follow the flowers, providing food for birds and wildlife. Arrowwood viburnum prefers sun to partial shade and moist well-drained soil. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends slightly acidic sandy or sandy-loam soil. This flood-tolerant shrub is largely disease- and pest-resistant.
Shrubby St. John's Wort
Shrubby St. John's Wort (Hypericum prolificum) is a mounding plant typically standing 4 feet high and up to 4 feet wide. It typically grows in moist valleys, rocky areas, wild meadows and dry woodland slopes. Shrubby St. John's Wort has dark-green, 2- to 3-inch leaves. Between June and August, the shrub produces vivid yellow flowers as single 1-inch blooms or clusters with luxuriant stamens than often conceal their petals. Seed cones burst in the fall to scatter their black seeds. Mature shrubs have peeling outer bark that reveals attractive light-orange bark beneath. Shrubby St. John's wort accommodates dry to wet conditions and flooding. It grows best in well-drained soil in a location that receives sun to partial shade. It blooms from new growth, says the Missouri Botanical Garden, so gardeners should prune old wood back in spring.