Eventual size 
of pom-pom juniper often 
your choice

Ultimately, what will be the height and width of a pom-pom juniper?

— Deb

Actually, the size of a pom-pom is determined by you. You have to prune the plant regularly to maintain the shape, and in so doing you can dictate how big the plant gets.

Without pruning, the plant will simply grow to the size and shape that the variety the pom-pom was made from would get. Most of my green ones are made from a Mint Julep juniper that would get five to seven feet tall and six to eight feet wide. The blue ones, from a Hetz juniper would get 15 feet tall and wide.

What I’ve observed is that people tend to unconsciously let the plant get a little bigger each year. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’re not careful, your separate pom-poms will start to merge into a single blob. You either have to be sure that the plant is kept close to where it’s at, allow the pom-poms to grow outward, or even create new ones farther out.

Several years ago, we planted Russian sage plants close to the front of our house. As pretty as it is, the flowers make a mess in the decorative gravel. We want to replace them with something that stays green year round, tolerates full sun all day and grows well in this area. Any suggestions?

— Priscilla

Well, I don’t have a lot to offer you, I’m afraid. Most of the broadleaved evergreens really want some shade, certainly afternoon shade. They may “grow” in the sun, but they never seem to thrive. I’m going to assume that the plant you want is smaller since the Russian sage doesn’t get that big.

Boxwood would probably do OK for you. It is a neat, compact shrub that is often sheared into a short hedge. There are really no flowers to speak of, but it has attractive shiny green foliage that may take on a yellowish, orangey or brownish cast instead of green during the winter. The foliage can burn a bit over the winter, especially when the plant is fairly young, but as it matures, that tends to fade away.

Pyracantha is probably the toughest broadleaved evergreen I can think of, but it gets pretty big. Yukon Belle is the most common variety. It is super cold hardy and takes the sun just fine.

It has pretty white flowers in spring but the real show is the orange berries in the fall. Left to itself, it will grow to five or six feet tall with an eight foot spread. This plant can be sheared to just about any size or shape you want, so controlling it isn’t too hard.

The most memorable characteristic of the plant, however, is that it is thorny, thorny, thorny! That’s something you would have to deal with each time you prune.

One broadleaf that sort of acts evergreen is Broom. There are a number of varieties available. They bloom in early to mid-spring with sweet pea-shaped flowers in shades of bright yellow, gold and primrose yellow.

The plant doesn’t have much in the way of leaves; it relies on bright green wiry stems for photosynthesis. Those stems look pretty much the same year round.

My favorite is a variety called Lydia. It’s low and spreading. I had one in my yard that grew to a foot and a half high and four or five feet wide. It is completely covered for three weeks each spring with glaringly bright yellow flowers that rival Forsythia any day.

This group of plants also is quite tolerant of drought and our hot, intense sun.

Other than that, you’re looking at a shrubby conifer such as a juniper or mugo pine.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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