Garden Guide: Sagina to Syringa

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Garden Guide: Sagina to Syringa

Plant Care and Garden Guide: From Sagina to Syringa

SAGINA subulata - Pearlwort, Irish Moss

PLANTING: Set sagina plants 6 to 8 inches apart. Choose a location in part shade, where the soil is moist, rich, and well-drained. It can also be grown in full sun (except in the south) as long as adequate moisture is supplied. Only spreads 2 to 3 inches each year.

MAINTENANCE: Take care not to overwater these plants. If watering is necessary, do so early in the day so that foliage does not remain wet overnight. Never allow the soil to get too dry. Irish moss plants are easily divided in spring or fall, if desired. Zones 4 (with protection)-7.

SALIX alba - Coral Embers Willow

PLANTING: For a hedge, set out 3 to 4 feet apart. Plant in organic soil, moisture-retentive and well-drained; water during dry periods. Prefers full sun. Avoid planting near water lines because of the root system.

MAINTENANCE: This is a rapid grower, easy to grow, and relatively trouble-free. Prune back 12 to 15 inches above ground level late each winter so the bright new growth will provide color in the garden the next winter. If left unpruned, it will grow up to 80 feet tall and 30 feet across. If pruned each year, it will make an attractive 4 to 6-foot hedge or specimen. Zones 2-8.

SALIX caprea ‘Weeping Sally’ - Goat Willow

PLANTING: Space 5 to 7 feet apart in full sun. The soil should be moist to wet, such as those found around ponds or streams, as well as other areas that never become too dry. Salix is adaptable to a wide range of soils, from fairly acidic to fairly basic. Care should be taken to avoid planting along a sewer or water line, due to the spread of the root system. Stake if necessary for the first growing season.

MAINTENANCE: There is little maintenance needed except occasional pruning for aesthetics, watering during drought and a light fertilizing every few years with a general fertilizer such as 10-10-10, 5-10-5, or a good shrub fertilizer. A mulch is recommended. Zones 5-8.

SALIX integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’

PLANTING: Soil must be moisture-retentive; an ideal choice for wet spots in the garden. Prefers full sun.

MAINTENANCE: Prune to about 1 foot from graft in early spring before growth commences. Stems can also be shortened during the summer of needed. Zones 4-8.

SALIX alba - Coral Embers Willow

PLANTING: Space plants 4 to 12 feet apart, depending on species and pruning technique. For best growth, plant in a moisture-retentive soil enriched with organic matter. Plants are adaptable to both drier soils, if watered periodically, and boggy soils. Avoid planting near water lines due to the moisture-seeking root system.

MAINTENANCE: Very easy and relatively trouble free. To control the size of the plants (unless you have a weeping form), prune to within a foot from the ground immediately after catkins fade in late spring. If planted in dry soils, water during periods of drought. S. purpurea ‘Nana’ looks best when pruned close to the ground each spring. Zones various.

SALVIA species and cultivars - Meadow Sage, Clary, Ornamental Sage

PLANTING: Set salvia plants 12 to 18 inches apart, in a sunny location where the soil is good and well-drained.

MAINTENANCE: Heat and drought tolerant once established, salvia is relatively problem-free. Cut back vigorous growth in early summer to assure bushiness; and cut back blooms when spent to encourage a second bloom. Divide plants every 3 to 4 years, as necessary. A winter mulch is beneficial. Zones 4-9.

SAMBUCUS species - Elderberry

PLANTING: Plant elderberry in sun or shade; the more sun, the denser the foliage, flower and fruit. Sambucus is not fussy about soil, but does best in a moisture-retentive loam enriched with organic matter.

MAINTENANCE: Mulch after planting and thereafter in spring to help retain moisture and maintain a cool root run. Water during periods of drought. Each year, in late winter, prune back to 12 to 14 inches or where ample buds are present to produce vigorous spring growth. Zones 4-7.

SARCOCOCCA species - Sweet Box

PLANTING: Plant 12 to 15 inches apart in partial to full shade and a well-drained soil. Excellent for those difficult, dry shaded locations, however, do surprisingly well in sunny places which are not exposed to the searing afternoon heat of summer.

MAINTENANCE: Apply a mulch to conserve moisture. Water during periods of drought. Prune in early spring as necessary to shape and to remove weak or dead wood. Zones 6 (with protection)-9.

SCABIOSA - Pincushion Flower

PLANTING: Set out plants 12 inches apart. Choose a sunny location where the soil is light and well-drained. If the pH is low, add lime to the soil.

MAINTENANCE: We recommend an airy winter mulch. Divide every few years as necessary to rejuvenate. Zones 3-9.

SCHIZACHYRIUM scoparium - See Grasses, Ornamental

SIDALCEA species - Minature Hollyhock

PLANTING: Set plants 12 to 18 inches apart. Choose a location that receives full sun or very light shade, and where the soil is well drained. They will prosper if protected against strong winds.

MAINTENANCE: Water during periods of drought. Cut back after initial flush of bloom to encourge additional blooming and prevent seedlings which do not come true. Plants may require staking if grown in an exposed location. Zones various.


PLANTING: Space 10 to 12 inches apart in sun or part shade. A good, well drained soil is essential.

MAINTENANCE: Remove the flower stalks after plant has finished blooming. Plants can be divided in either spring or fall. Zones 6-9.

SEDUM species and cultivars - Upright types - Stonecrop

PLANTING: Set sedum plants 15 to 18 inches apart. Any soil well-drained will do, even poor, gravelly infertile soil, but, of course, good fertile garden soil is best. The location should be in full or very light shade.

MAINTENANCE: Water stonecrop plants in periods of drought. Otherwise, Sedum requires little in the way of special care. If plants become crowded after 4 or 5 years, they may be divided in the spring. Dried flower heads may be left through the winter to give interest in the garden along with the grasses. Zones various.

SORBARIA - False Spirea

PLANTING: Plant in full sun or light shade in rich, moist but well drained soil. Does well in neutral to slightly alkaline soil.

MAINTENANCE: Prune in late winter or early spring if needed to restrict size. Remove older canes if needed at this time. Divide plants in fall. Zones 2-9.

SORBUS alnifolia - Korean Mountain Ash

PLANTING: Plant 20 to 30 feet apart in full sun and a well drained soil (essential).

MAINTENANCE: Water well during periods of drought. Pruning, which should be done in winter or very early spring, is done to shape; can be trained to single or multiple trunks. Zones 4-7.

SISYRINCHIUM angustifolium - Blue-Eyed Grass

PLANTING: Set plants 6 to 10 inches apart in a sunny location in a moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil.

MAINTENANCE: Trouble-free, it can be easily divided after 4 or 5 years if desirable. Most varieties will self-sow; therefore, seed heads should be removed if you don’t want it to spread. Zones 3-8.

SPIRAEA species and cultivars - Bridal Wreath

PLANTING: Space plants according to ultimate growth of the species you’ve chosen. Choose a sunny location, with good, well-drained soil. 

MAINTENANCE: Spiraea is relatively carefree. Prune summer-blooming types in early spring as needed for shaping. Prune spring-blooming types immediately after flowers fade by removing a few of the oldest stems to ground level. If desired, flower clusters can be removed after blooming. Zones (various) 4-9.

SPODIOPOGON - See Grasses, Ornamental


PLANTING: Set out plants in sun or shade, keeping in mind that sun encourages flower production. Stephanandra is not fussy about soils, but demands good drainage.

MAINTENANCE: Water well during periods of dry weather; an organic mulch is beneficial to help conserve moisture. Prune in spring by cutting out several of the oldest canes. Over-pruning can damage the naturally attractive growth habit of this plant. Zones 5-8.

SYRINGA species and cultivars - Lilac

PLANTING: Plant syringa 12 feet apart in a sunny location and in a site where good air circulation is available. Lilacs are widely tolerant of soils, but prefer good drainage and a nearly neutral soil, supplemented with organic matter. Lilacs will benefit from light shade during the afternoon hours in southern areas. Some of the S. vulgaris hybrids also are tolerant of pollution.

MAINTENANCE: Because they are shallow rooted, mulching rather than cultivating around the lilac plants, is recommended. Yearly applications of 5-10-5 fertilizer and bone meal, both applied in early spring will promote flowering. Remove spent flower clusters and prune after flowering to keep center open to sunlight. Remove suckers (growth from the base), and prune out some of the older wood periodically to renew the plant. If Oyster Shell Scale, Lilac Borer, or mildew are a problem, spraying at the first sign of these troubles will control them. In some rare instances, where mature Lilacs prove reluctant to flower, root pruning may encourage flower production. This is done by using a spade to cut down into the soil around the plant at the drip line of the branches. Old plantings may be rejuvenated by cutting back all old growth to ground level in early spring and allowing new vigorous growth to replace it. Zones 3-7.