10 Recommended Shrubs With White Flowers

Shrubs With White Flowers

The Spruce

Shrubs with white flowers are great for brightening dark areas of the landscape, and many are known for their fragrant blooms. As a design element, shrubs with white flowers convey a sense of purity. They are often used as the foundation for moon gardens, designed to be enjoyed in the evening. Some white-flowering shrubs are valued primarily for the spring color they bestow to the garden, while others save a bit of their beauty for autumn when fall foliage becomes the star of the show.

Here are 10 great choices if you are considering white shrubs for your landscape.

Design Tip

Unless you are designing a moon garden designed to be enjoyed primarily in the evening, an all-white garden can be glaring to look at. It's a better strategy to mix in white flowers and shrubs to help "cool" a garden with bright, hot colors. And remember that many white flowers have subtle hints of other colors—a hint of buttery yellow or a touch of lavender or pink.

  • 01 of 10

    Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)

    Korean spice viburnum shrub branches with small white flower clusters

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) is an example of a shrub that boasts early-spring flowers (April) as well as fall color. The buds are pink but then open to become clusters of white flowers. The bush is named for its fragrance, which contains a combination of sweetness and sharpness. If you do not like the touch of pink that its white flowers retain, grow doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum 'Mariesii') instead. The doublefile type has pure white flowers but lacks the scent of Korean spice.

    If your soil does not have the acidity preferred by viburnums, a yearly feeding with an acid-enhanced fertilizer will improve its flowering. Mulching the base of the shrub with pine needles can also improve soil acidity.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Pinkish-white blooms
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, moist, acidic, well-draining
  • 02 of 10

    Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

    Common lilac shrub branch with tiny white flower racemes and buds

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    For a purely sweet smell, it is hard to beat the fragrance of the common lilac bush, which is available in whites as well as in the familiar lavender/purple. The smell of the flowers is superior to that of the 'Miss Kim' lilac, although some gardeners prefer the latter as a compact plant that reduces landscape maintenance. But if you are seeking plants for a hedge that will screen out prying eyes during the summer season, the height of the common lilac is a decided benefit. Unlike Korean spice viburnum, common lilac is a late-spring bloomer, but it makes up for the wait by bearing larger racemes of flowers.

    More than most shrubs, lilacs need a well-drained location, as they may refuse to bloom if they have too much moisture. Don't bother to plant them in a boggy location, or be prepared to heavily amend the soil to improve drainage.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Lavender/purple; cultivars offering white and red flowers are also available
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 03 of 10

    Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica)

    Japanese andromeda shrub branches with white bell-shaped flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Andromeda shrub, also known as Japanese pieris, has a scent that is not for the faint of heart. Some people dislike the aroma, while others love it. So before you grow this bush, find one in bloom somewhere and see if it passes the smell test for you. Beyond the bell-shaped flowers, the benefits of growing Andromeda include evergreen foliage offering winter interest, leaves that offer an attractive red color (such as with the 'Mountain Fire' cultivar), and an early bloom period (March, in some cases). Andromeda shrubs grow to 9 to 12 feet.

    In colder climates, Japanese andromeda can dry out due to cold winds in winter. You can protect the plant by wrapping burlap around them in late fall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade; flowering is reduced in shady conditions
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil; prefers slightly acidic soil
  • 04 of 10

    Mock Orange (Philadelphus Spp.and Hybrids)

    Mock orange shrub with small white blossoms and leaves closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    If you enjoy experiencing fragrances in the garden but dislike strong smells, mock orange may be just right for you. Mock orange comprises a number of species within the Philadelphus genus, as well as hybrids and cultivars. Its aroma will not blow you away, but a refined nose can detect a hint of citrus in its blossoms. This is a rather big shrub, reaching 12 feet tall with a similar width. A popular hybrid, P. x virginalis, stays smaller (4 feet tall with a spread of 2 feet). Lovers of summertime privacy may prefer P. coronarius, but those who wish to keep yard maintenance to a minimum will favor P. x virginalis.

    Mock orange can become overgrown fairly quickly, so a rejuvenation pruning—hard pruning that cuts the bush back low to the ground—is a good idea every few years.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Variations: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, loamy soil
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Azaleas (Rhododendron Spp.)

    Azalea shrub with small white flowers and buds closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Azaleas can bloom in early spring or late spring, depending on the variety. Great white varieties include 'Northern Hi-Lights', 'Pleasant White', Delaware Valley White', 'Cascade White', 'Snow', and 'Blooom-a Thon' White—so-called because it blooms not only in April but also in the summer and fall. Hardiness zones and sizes depend on variety; there are azaleas suitable for most climates from zones 3 to 9, and in sizes ranging from 2 to 3 feet to 15 feet. Azaleas are excellent in woodland settings; the foliage is unremarkable after the flowers have faded, although some varieties have pleasing fall colors.

    Unless your soil has the natural acidity preferred by azaleas, feed them with an acid-enhanced fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons, camellias, and azaleas.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9; range depends on variety
    • Color Varieties: White, lavender/purple, orange, peach, pink, red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium-moisture, well-drained soil; prefers acidic soil
  • 06 of 10

    Dwarf Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko')

    Dwarf deutzia shrub with tiny white bell-shaped flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    What makes dwarf deutzia (Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko') so special is that, despite being a shrub, it can function as a ground cover. This is because it stays so short and is wider than it is tall (2 feet tall with a spread of 5 feet). The flowers may be small, but they are double and numerous—this is a late-spring bloomer, with small but fragrant bell-shaped flowers. The foliage on the dwarf variety turns an attractive burgundy in fall. Individual branches are fairly short-lived, so this shrub needs regular pruning.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture soil; good tolerance for clay soil
  • 07 of 10

    Roses (Rosa Spp.)

    White rose flower and buds on shrub branch closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    According to the meanings assigned to the various rose colors, white roses signify reverence and humility. If such concerns are too fanciful for your tastes, you may be drawn more to roses by their beauty and their smell. No fragrance garden is complete without rose bushes. Roses have a reputation for being finicky, but there are some types—such as shrub roses—that are quite easy to grow. Like most plants with large flowers, roses are heavy feeders. Use a slow-release granular fertilizer formulated for roses.

    'Iceberg 'is one of the nicer white roses. It is best grown in zones 5 to 9, growing to 3 feet tall with a spread of 4 feet. 'Polar Express' is another excellent white rose for zones 5 to 9, growing to about 4 feet. 'Winchester Cathedral' is a white rose suitable for zones 4 to 11, growing to about 4 feet.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 12; range depends on type
    • Color Varieties: Virtually all colors except true blue and black
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil; prefers loamy texture
  • 08 of 10

    Spirea (Spirea Spp.)

    Spirea shrub with small white flower clusters surrounded by leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Like roses, to which they are related, shrubs in the Spirea genus also bloom in early summer. Although some of the more popular kinds of spirea now have pink blossoms, the traditional favorite with white flowers is the Vanhoutte (or "bridal wreath") spirea (Spiraea × vanhouttei). Vanhoutte spirea likes full sun and grows to be 5 to 8 feet tall and 7 to 10 feet wide. It blooms in April or May. 'Snowmound' and 'Snow Storm' are cultivars with white flowers.

    Spireas has fairly good tolerance for drought conditions once mature, but while young it is important to keep the plants well-watered. Mulching the soil will help keep it moist.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Hydrangea (Hydrangea Spp.)

    Hydrangea shrub with white and light yellow flower clusters

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Hydrangea is another early-summer bloomer, and there are excellent white versions available in all four of the main types: H. arborescens (smooth hydrangeas), H. macrophylla (bigleaf hydrangeas), H. paniculata (panicle hydrangeas), and H. quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangeas).

    A wonderful choice for admirers of white flowers is the Incrediball hydrangea. The huge flower clusters will last right through fall, although the color changes to brown (sometimes with pink mixed in). Another very popular white variety is 'Annabelle', a smooth hydrangea that grows to 5 feet.

    The ideal location for most hydrangeas will provide sun in the morning, shade in the heat of the afternoon. Planting is best done in spring and fall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9, depending on variety
    • Color Varieties: White, sometimes transitioning to purple-pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium-moisture, well-drained soil; prefers slightly alkaline soil
  • 10 of 10

    Snows of Kilimanjaro (Euphorbia leucocephala)

    Snows of Kilimanjaro shrub with tiny white petals on branches

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Another white-flowering option is Snows of Kilimanjaro, a tropical shrub with a rounded shape, growing 6 to 10 feet with a spread of 4 to 6 feet. As a member of the Euphorbia genus, it is related to that Christmas favorite, the poinsettia (E. pulcherrima). An alternate common name is "little Christmas flower."

    As with the poinsettias, flowering comes into bloom as the days shorten. When the fragrant white flowers emerge, the bush reminds you of a giant snowball. To promote that look, give the plant a severe pruning back in early spring, then another in early summer. Wear gloves when you prune because some people are allergic to its milky sap.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 13
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil

Watch Now: 7 Tips for Every Gardener

Article Sources
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  1. Weber B, Sinz C, Bauer WM, et al. Euphorbia myrsinites Sap-Induced Phytodermatitis: A Prototype of Irritant Contact DermatitisDermatitis. 2019;30(2):155-161. doi:10.1097/DER.0000000000000454