Plant of the Week: GROUND HUG® Aronia

It’s finally started to warm up a bit here in Michigan. That is particularly important when you work for a place that ships live plants. Although it seems like spring has been a long time coming, I’m feeling hopeful. I know it can and has snowed in April…but I’m confident the hyper-cold weather is behind us. We’ll see if my prediction holds.

Speaking of predictions, this year Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter, and the weather certainly backed up that prediction. But I think it’s safe to say we’ll soon be seeing signs of spring. I walked my own gardens last weekend and was thrilled to see buds on shrubs and tips of green poking up through the soil where my garlic cloves are planted. We have a few more weeks before we see flowers, so until then enjoy this post about the super-durable plant with pretty white spring flowers…Aronia melanocarpa.

Groundhug Day?
For a minute, we had an Aronia called Ground Hog, but naming plants is complicated. Often we settle on a name, start to market a new plant under that name, only to find out we can’t use it after all. That’s what happened with Ground Hug® Aronia. So if you were thinking you remembered Ground Hug® being called something else, you’re not losing your mind. It was Ground Hog for a short period of time. But I think the new name fits.

Ground Hug Aronia comes to us from Dr. Mark Brand of UConn. His is the breeding program that developed Low Scape Mound and Low Scape Hedger Aronia, too. This is fabulous work – taking a species with lots of great qualities and repackaging it to fit into more gardens.

It’s a native species, which is important to many people and supports pollinators, which is another common request. Aronia melanocarpa is an adaptable plant with many potential uses in gardens and landscapes

It’s hardy to USDA zone 3 and has pretty flowers in the spring as well as bright red fall color. It’s a durable plant that will tolerate many challenging conditions. We even had a planting submerged underwater for a few weeks one spring, and it came through fine. A little slower to take off than the ones on higher ground, but acceptable.

Ground Hug® grows 8-14″ tall and up to 3′ across. It will grow in full sun or partial shade. Aronia melanocarpa has good deer resistance, too. Not deer-proof of course (there’s no such thing.)

If you’re looking for a more general-purpose plant geek experience, here’s a video from the National Science Foundation. One of the discoveries they highlight is researchers identifying the genes that give a plant deer-resistance. That could be really useful to anyone struggling with deer browsing, which is to say nearly everyone in North America. Now to identify more rabbit-proof plants!

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