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May/June 2012 Issue

What do you think are the three hardiest, easiest-to-grow, can’t-kill plants in the region?

Heather Lee, Berthold’s Garden Center, Elk Grove Village

John Jecha, Green Glen Garden Center/Nursery, Joliet

For an annual, ‘Snow Princess’ lobularia. Takes cool weather or heat, blooms non-stop without deadheading and does well in containers or in the ground. For a perennial, ‘Dragon Fruit’ dianthus has lovely, double, medium pink flowers a spicy sweet fragrance, a long blooming period, and re-blooms if deadheaded. For a shrub, Deutzia gracilis is one of my favorites, because it looks good in every season. Showy bell-like flowers cover the plant in June. Stunning burgundy fall color. Stays medium-small.

My favorites are ‘Autumn Gold’ ginkgo, ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea, and false indigo (Baptisia). The focal point in my front yard is the hardy, tenacious and pest-free ginkgo, whose fan- shaped leaves turn golden yellow in fall. The Midwestern false indigo blooms in spring with blue-violet, pea-shaped flowers, then forms seed pods that turn brown for winter interest. And each summer I am asked about my “huge white flowers.” Of course, it’s the hardy ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea that’s good for partial shade.

Gilbert Yerke, Yerke Frog Alley Greenhouses, Mukwonago, Wis.



“What do you have that is so tough I can’t kill it?” is heard at greenhouses every spring. I recommend the popular sun-loving calibrachoa, which is available in many colors, in single and double forms. Heat-tolerant lantana does well in full sun and even tolerates forgotten watering. Dragon Wing™ begonia is great for shady areas yet also tolerates summer heat. All do well in planters, beds and floral hanging gardens.



Ask our Experts Previous Issues
Previous Ask our Experts Questions:
July/August 2008 What plants do you recommend for drought tolerance?
May/June 2008 What do you recommend to customers who want instant curb appeal in their gardens?
March/April 2008 What are the most common questions your customers ask in spring?
January/ February 2008 What ornamental grasses would you recommend for winter interest?
November/December 2007 What natural materials would you recommend for holiday decorating?
September/October 2007 What were your hot sellers this year and what do you expect to be popular next year?
July/August 2007 The early summer blooms of peonies, roses and iris has ended and my garden is in the doldrums. What can I do now to perk things up?
May/June 2007 What is the one "must have" this spring for a hanging basket?
March/April 2007 What do you tell people who complain about non-blooming lilacs?
November/December 2006 What is your favorite tree or shrub for winter interest?
September/October 2006 What is your favorite tree or shrub for fall color?
July/August 2006 What should tomato growers be doing this month and next to get maximum tomato production?
May/June 2006 In your opinion, what's the most common mistake novice gardeners make?
March/April 2006 What’s one plant that Chicagoland gardeners should grow more often and why?