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The ever-changing weather in the Kansas City area keeps weather forecasters on their toes. The region experiences a range of hot, cold, wet and dry conditions — sometimes seemingly in a matter of hours.
Of course, weather forecasters aren’t the only ones keeping an eye on the sky. Kansas Citians who’ve got lawns, flowerbeds and other landscaping to care for also watch what the weather’s doing.
Dennis Patton, horticulture agent with Johnson County K-State Research and Extension in Olathe, KS, says the best plants for surviving the ups and downs of Kansas City’s weather “must have the ability to roll with the punches.”
Crepe myrtle does well in Kansas City’s climate.
Photo: Flickr/Susan Smith
“On top of that, we typically have heavy, high-clay-content soils. This is a plus and minus,” Patton adds. “During wet periods, the soils can become waterlogged, which creates more issues for plants. On the plus side, we have very nutritious soils that tend to run on the higher side of the pH range.”
In fact, Patton advises paying attention to the soil on your property before looking for plants, shrubs and other landscaping elements.
“The soil is the foundation for growth,” he says. “More energy and money should be spent on improving the quality of the soil, balancing pH, improving drainage and providing aeration for healthy plants. If you can grow healthy, strong roots, the top growth will take care of itself.”
Here are Patton’s recommendations for flowers, shrubs and trees that are best suited for Kansas City landscaping.
Catmint is a great flower for Kansas City landscapes.
Photo: Flickr/Denise Mattox
Patton says milkweeds are a great addition to your garden, as they attract monarch butterflies that fly through the Kansas City area on their migration path.
Another suggestion: catmints. According to the National Gardening Association, catmints are easy-to-grow perennials that most commonly have purple-blue flowers and gray-green foliage. They typically range from 1 foot to 4 feet tall.
Annabelle hydrangeas. SFGate.com describes Annabelle hydrangeas as “attractive shrubs that produce clusters of white flowers during spring and summer.” Patton says these hydrangeas tolerate everything from light shade to full sunlight and look great as part of landscaping or a flower garden.
Crepe myrtle. Patton calls the crepe myrtle — actually a relatively short flowering tree — “a Southern plant that’s at home in the North.” It’s known for being heat- and drought-tolerant, and for producing an array of colorful flowers.
“Native trees are good for the long haul,” Patton says.
Among his favorite trees for Kansas City landscaping are honeylocust, hackberry and Kentucky coffeetree.