Flowering shrubs are great choices for the busy gardener who doesn’t have time to plant a new annual every season. The variety of colors and sizes of flowering bushes gives horticulturists or homeowners an abundance to choose from. Flowering shrubs can make a border, cover an unsightly fence or part of a home, and provide some interest in the colder months. Not all flowering shrubs will grow in all zones, however, so always do you research for the best results.
Witch hazel is more than a popular acne aid. The springtime plant will begin to show an abundance of small yellow flowers in January and bloom until mid-March, making it one of the earliest plants to flower in most locations. The bush enjoys full sun and soil enriched with manure and organic matter. Witch hazel likes regular watering, and too little or drought may ruin a season's flowering. You can apply a liquid fertilizer to give your bush extra nutrients. Any pruning should be done before the bush begins to leaf out, but after it has finished flowering.
Another early-blooming shrub is forsythia. These prolific bloomers need regular trimming each season after flowering to maintain their fantastic appearance. Gardeners can usually observe their beautiful yellow flowers in mid-April. In areas where witch hazel isn’t common, forsythia may be one of the first flowering shrubs to dot a landscape. This bush likes full sun and well-drained soil.
Planting a rose of Sharon bush, also known as the common hibiscus, is a great way to enjoy tropical beauty in the cooler climates of the U.S. This plant prefers full sun or part shade and will thrive in USDA zones five through eight. Moist and slightly acidic soil is ideal, and gardeners can enjoy a variety of colors depending on the type of bush they plant. Blue, lavender, white, peach, and pink are just some of the cultivars available. Feeding the plant every spring will help it thrive. Any pruning should be done in late fall or early spring.
A bush that’s cherished for its year-round color, rhododendrons offer evergreen interest in the cooler seasons and large, fantastic blooms in the growing season. Depending on the variety, you can enjoy blooms in early spring, summer, or into the fall. Full sun is often the recipe to bigger and more plentiful blossoms, but afternoon shade may be necessary in hot climates. Rhododendrons need moist soil and mulch to thrive, since they don’t have a deep root system. Flowers bloom in clusters of white, cream, yellow, pink, or purple.
Lilacs are some of the most fragrant flowers of the early season and are quite low-maintenance. Keep them healthy by pruning right after the flowers have faded in the Spring. Enrich the soil of your lilac bush with manure before planting and ensure your soil is more alkaline than acidic. The beautiful purple blooms are attractive and produce a strong, dizzying fragrance. Make sure each plant gets enough water and water the shrub every ten to fourteen days while it's flowering.
Azaleas are closely related to rhododendrons and often require similar care. Though slightly less picky than their relatives, they still require acidic soil and mulch to preserve moisture in their roots. Fertilize them in the late spring or early fall and trim their branches after they bloom. Available colors of the flowers include yellow, pink, orange, red, and white. Water each plant well, but don’t let the soil become soggy, as this can encourage disease in the roots.
Hydrangeas are similar to rhododendrons when it comes to the size of their blooms. The flowers may overwhelm the bush at their peak, and the bush may need to be staked or tied up. If you’re planting hydrangeas, make sure there’s no risk of frost before the plant has time to establish itself. Hydrangeas do best in rich soil with regular watering. Full sun or part shade is ideal, as long as they have morning sun and shade from the hot afternoon blaze.
Camellias are most common in the Southern U.S., but they are hardy in zones seven through 10, with some withstanding the cold winters of zone six, as well. They can be fickle plants and difficult to grow, but the right environment goes a long way. Camellias aren’t drought-resistant and need regular watering, especially when newly planted. Fertilize only once a year, once the plant has finished blooming. If you’re putting your camellia in the ground as opposed to pots, make sure it is not near any roots that will compete for moisture.
Gardenia is another plant that can be fickle to grow, but the sweet-scented blooms make any difficulty well worth it. One of the first things to know when planting a gardenia is that they like moist soil that’s not soggy and warm humid temperatures. About an inch of water per week suffices. Overwatering or underwatering may cause the buds to drop off. The shrub also doesn’t respond well to being moved from spot to spot, so find the right sunny area for your plant to stay. Gardenias can survive outdoors in zones eight through 11.
Summersweet is a beautiful shrub that retains its attractive looks into the fall. It blooms with white or pink spikey flowers in the mid to late summer and the foliage turns a beautiful gold in the autumn. Water the plant thoroughly when there is a drought, since this shrub likes moist to wet soil. It will also grow in full sun or partial shade and is hardy enough for zones three to nine. The flowers on this shrub are a favorite of pollinators.