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Regional Picks: Foundation-Friendly Plants – Southern Plains

Fine Gardening – Issue 175

1. Little Quick Fire® Panicle Hydrangea


Name: Hydrangea paniculata ‘SMHPLQF’

Usda Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9

Size: 3 to 5 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Part shade to full sun; prefers rich, moist soils

A dwarf form of the popular Quick Fire® hydrangea, Little Quick Fire® brings the treasured flower power of its larger cousin to small spaces. Blooming up to a month earlier than other hydrangeas, the showy blossoms of Little Quick Fire® continue from early summer through fall, with flower color shifting from white to pink and finally a rosy-purple color. The upright blooms attract butterflies and make excellent cut or dried flowers. With a compact, rounded habit Little Quick Fire® fits comfortably in foundation plantings, mixed borders, and even containers.

2. Magical Robin Weigela


Name: Weigela ‘BOKRAROB’

Zones: 4 to 8

Size: 3 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to part shade; average to moist well-drained soil

Roll out the red carpet with this pint-sized weigela. Bursting with deep red flowers, Magical Robin provides a warm welcome in the entrance garden. Half the size of heirloom varieties, Magical Robin offers new planting options for this old-fashioned favorite. Tuck it among evergreen foundation plants, or use it to line an entrance walkway. You’ll appreciate minimal maintenance, as Magical Robin naturally maintains a compact, mounded form without pruning. Other updates include a longer spring flowering and repeat blooming throughout the growing season.

3. Miss Lemon Abelia


Name: Abelia × grandiflora ‘Hopleys’

Zones: 6 to 9

Size: 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to part shade; wide soil tolerance

Brighten the foundation with vibrant foliage and fragrant blooms. Miss Lemon abelia offers something new each season starting with lively yellow-variegated new growth in spring. Foliage color shifts with the seasons, with the greens darkening in summer and the yellows softening to a warm ivory color. In autumn, the glossy foliage takes on a pink hue. Summer offers soft pink blooms that add a delicate aroma to the air and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Though deciduous, the mounding form and arching branches provide interest and wildlife habitat through the winter months. Use as a specimen or mass planting.

4. Purple Pillar Rose of Sharon


Name: Hibiscus syriacus* ‘Gandini Santiago’

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 10 to 6 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

A columnar rose of Sharon, Purple Pillar offers everything we love about rose of Sharon in a striking new form. Perfect as a specimen, Purple Pillar blooms all summer with an abundance of fuchsia-centered lavender blooms that buzz with pollinators. The columnar form brings rose of Sharon to new places—try it in a container or flanking your entryway. Purple Pillar can also be used to add privacy or a touch of color in narrow spaces. Plants are heat and drought tolerant.


Kimberly Toscano is a horticulturist from Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Photos, except where noted: courtesy of Proven Winners; Ivar Leidus/courtesy of commonswikimedia.org; courtesy of Sunset Western Garden Collection; courtesy of Todd Johnson

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