11 Best Heat Tolerant Shrubs

Potentilla rubricaulis
Potentilla rubricaulis. Photo courtesy of James St. John

Shrubs, though they may need some pruning, are an overall low maintenance, sometimes permanent addition to the landscape. Protect your garden plans by choosing shrubs that will tolerate drought and heat well, avoiding the dried out, wilted summer blues.

Best Heat Tolerant Shrubs

Barberry. Excellent for the south, barberry isn't picky at all, ready for nearly any soil or heat. Barberry has several variety options for height and appearance, but all are low maintenance and ideal for hedges. Plant in full to part sun and let them go, with minimal pruning or upkeep. Hardy to zones 4-8.

Beautybush. The incredible flowering period nicknamed the Kolkwitza as beautybush, and rightly so! At 6-10 feet high and wide with an abundance of pink and yellow spring blooms, beautybush commands attention. Maintenance is simple – just keep dead wood and overgrowth cleared out. Hardy to zones 4-8.

Spirea. Another gorgeous flowering shrub, spirea spreads out in a fountain of white clusters of blossoms. It continues to thrive through the summer heat, culminating in orange foliage in the fall. Varieties range from 2-6 feet tall and wide. Choose one that will fit in your space once it is mature, then enjoy the easy maintenance and beautiful returns. Hardy to zones 4-8.

Butterfly Bush. With lovely fruity fragrance and incredibly showy blooms, it’s no surprise butterflies and hummingbirds love this aptly named shrub. It’s so easy to grow, however, that it is sometimes considered invasive, even in the heat. Be careful to plant it away from other important plants. Hardy to zones 5-10.

Cotoneaster. There are many varieties of cotoneaster, including ones that creep and trail. Shrubs can reach up to 15 feet tall (though 5-8 is the maximum for the more commonly used varieties) with an impressive spread. Fall fruits grace the shrubs after the summer heat. Hardy to zones 5-8.

Juniper. Another umbrella for many species, juniper includes everything from ground creepers to tall trees. They are excellent hedge plants, growing into a lovely shape without pruning and shaping. Plant in the landscape or in containers, watering at first but then relying on natural rainfall after that. Don’t sweat the drought – Juniper would do well in a xeriscape! Hardy to zones 5-9.

Potentilla. On the smaller side, potentilla is only a few feet tall, with dainty yellow flowers in the spring. It will grow slowly, but heartily, establishing itself even in poor soil. The sun is the important key for Potentilla, making it an excellent choice where heat-tolerant shrubs and plants are necessary. Hardy to zones 3-7.

Sumac. Not only are sumac excellent shrubs for heat, but they fare well against pests, too. With prevention as the best medicine in the organic garden, this is an important quality to look for. After the summer sun has cooled, sumac’s blazing red leaves will steal the show. Hardy to zones 3-9, by variety.

Rose. Shrub roses come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, providing a fun challenge for your landscaping abilities. Mix and match varieties for an eye-catching look. Old gardeners’ tails say to put a nail in the ground with the new plants to help provide minerals. Harvest the hips at the end of the year for delicious organic rose hip tea! Hardiness zones based on variety.

Rosemary. Medicinal, culinary, fragrant and functional – rosemary fits just as well into the landscape as the herb garden. Returning as a perennial each year where it isn’t an evergreen, with small blue flowers in the spring, rosemary is a year-round favorite. Hardy to zones 6-9.

Snowberry. Last but not least, this cousin of the honeysuckle is another heat-loving shrub. Most often a wild plant, snowberry is a lovely choice for permaculture, attracting wildlife and providing a habitat. Creamy white berries cover the snowberry (hence the name), but they aren’t edible. Enjoy this thriving, heat tolerant shrub as part of an ornamental garden or as a companion plant to attract beneficial pollinators and wildlife. Hardy to zones 2-7.