Regional Picks: Plant This, Not That – Southern Plains

Fine Gardening - Issue 153

Paperbark Maple
Photo: Jennifer Benner
‘Bradford’ Callery pear

Overused: ‘Bradford’ Callery pear

(Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’)

 Photo: Mpbaugh/courtesy of

1. Paperbark Maple

Name: Acer griseum

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8

Size: 20 to 30 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

While paperbark maple does not provide the show of spring flowers that you get with ‘Bradford’ Callery pear, its other charms and sturdy structure make it a far superior tree. Paperbark maple provides year-long interest, from its soft, blue-green summer foliage with a silver underside to its brilliant red fall color. Most striking is the exfoliating, cinnamon red bark, which provides dramatic color and texture throughout the winter months. Its upright, rounded canopy and multitrunked habit make this tree a superb addition to any yard.


Mango Popsicle™ Red-Hot Poker
Photo: courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries
‘Stella d’Oro’ daylily

Overused: ‘Stella d’Oro’ daylily

(Hemerocallis ‘Stella d’oro’)

2. Mango Popsicle Red-Hot Poker

Name: Kniphofia ‘Mango Popsicle’

Zones: 6 to 9

Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

The long-blooming Mango Popsicle red-hot poker displays playful spikes of orange blossoms continuously from summer through fall. Its vibrant tubular flowers stand above the foliage and are a favorite of hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. Considered a dwarf variety, this plant has low-growing grasslike foliage that will not crowd out neighboring perennials, and it holds its color all season. Delightful in the center or at the edge of a border, it is also drought tolerant.


Blackbird™ Euphorbia
Heavenly bamboo

Overused: Heavenly bamboo

(Nandina domestica and cvs.)

3. Blackbird™ Euphorbia

Name: Euphorbia ‘Nothowlee’

Zones: 6 to 10

Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

With handsome purple foliage that darkens to nearly black in full sun, Blackbird euphorbia provides an excellent alternative for many of the smaller cultivars of heavenly bamboo. The evergreen foliage persists throughout winter on sturdy, upright stems. Abundant heads of chartreuse bracts stand atop reddened stems in midspring, providing a magnificent show of color. This euphorbia has excellent heat tolerance, and its acceptance of variable light conditions makes it versatile. Plant it en masse in beds and borders, or add it to rock gardens or containers.


Kimberly Toscano is assistant director of The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and television host of Oklahoma Gardening.

Photos, except where noted: Michelle Gervais
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