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. Plan out your garden by choosing shrubs that will tolerate drought and heat well. You want to avoid your garden being all dried out and wilted throughout the summer.

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    Barberry

    Barberry bush

    Neil Holmes / Getty Images

    Excellent for the South, barberry is not picky in that it can tolerate most soils and heat levels. Barberry can go in any direction in terms of height and appearance and is low maintenance and ideal for hedges. Plant it in full to part sun and let it go with minimal pruning or upkeep. It is hardy in zones 4 through 8.

  • 02 of 11

    Beauty Bush

    Kolkwitza is commonly known as beauty bush and rightly so. At 6 to 10 feet high and wide with an abundance of pink and yellow spring blooms, beauty bush commands attention. Maintenance is simple—just keep dead wood and overgrowth cleared out. It is hardy in zones 4 through 8.

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    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 to 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. It is hardy in zones 4 through 8.

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    Butterfly Bush

    Image of a monarch on a butterfly bush flower.
    A monarch enjoying a butterfly bush flower. David Beaulieu

    With lovely fruity fragrance and incredibly showy blooms, it is no surprise that butterflies and hummingbirds love this aptly named shrub. It is 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. It is hardy in zones 5 to 10.

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  • 05 of 11

    Cotoneaster

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

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    Juniper

    Blue Pfitzer juniper shrub sheared into pom-poms.
    Blue Pfitzer Chinese juniper shrub is sheared so as to have pom-poms. David Beaulieu

    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. Do not sweat the drought—juniper would do well in a xeriscape. It is hardy in zones 5 to 9.

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    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. Sun is an important key for potentilla, making it an excellent choice where heat-tolerant shrubs and plants are necessary. It is hardy in zones 3 to 7.

  • 08 of 11

    Sumac

    Fall foliage image of staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina).
    Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is a tall shrub. Joshua McCullough/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Not only is sumac an excellent shrub for heat, but it fares 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. Depending on the variety, this plant is hardy in zones 3 to 9.

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  • 09 of 11

    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. This shrub's hardiness zones vary based on variety.

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    Rosemary

    Rosemary bush

    DigiPub / Getty Images

    Medicinal, culinary, fragrant, and functional—rosemary fits just as well into the landscape as the herb garden. Rosemary is a year-round favorite. Returning as a perennial each year in zones where it is not an evergreen, it has small blue flowers in the spring. It is hardy in zones 6 to 9.

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  • 11 of 11

    Snowberry

    Snowberry is closely related to honeysuckle, 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 are not edible. Enjoy this thriving, heat-tolerant shrub as part of an ornamental garden or as a companion plant to attract beneficial pollinators and wildlife. It is hardy in zones 2 to 7.