One of the best qualities of shrubs with white flowers is that many have fragrant blooms. They also convey a sense of purity and serve as the building blocks for moon gardens. Some are valued as early bloomers, while others save a bit of their beauty for autumn when fall foliage becomes the star of the show.
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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 open to become white flowers, which occur in clusters. 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.
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For a purely sweet smell, it is hard to beat the fragrance of the common lilac bush (Syringa vulgaris), which also comes in its namesake color and a handful of other colors. 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 just another of its good qualities. Unlike Korean spice viburnum, it is a late-spring bloomer, but it makes up for the wait by bearing larger racemes of flowers.
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Andromeda shrub (Pieris japonica) 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, benefits of growing Andromeda include:
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Sweet Mock Orange
Is your sense of smell delicate? If you enjoy experiencing fragrances in the garden but dislike strong smells, sweet mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius) may be just right for you. 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 and just as wide. P. virginalis stays smaller (4 feet tall with a spread of 2 feet). As with lilacs, how you plan to use the plant in the landscape will help you decide whether or not to grow the more compact type. Lovers of summertime privacy may prefer P. coronarius. But those who wish to keep yard maintenance to a minimum will favor P. virginalis.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) can bloom in early spring or late spring, depending on the variety. But one of the best with white flowers is Bloom-a-Thon. It is called that because it not only blooms in April but also in the summer and fall. Grow it in planting zones 6 to 9 and in full sun to partial sun. It becomes 30 to 36 inches tall and wide.
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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.
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According to the meanings assigned to the various rose colors by the language of flowers, 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. Tales of how difficult these early-summer bloomers are to care for have put off some gardeners on growing roses. But there are some kinds available that are easy to grow.
Iceberg is one of the nicer rose bushes with white flowers. It is best grown in zones 5 to 9. The plant grows to 3 feet tall with a spread of 4 feet.
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Like roses, spireas also bloom in early summer. In fact, they are related to roses, being members of the rose family of plants. Although some of the more popular kinds of spirea now have pink blossoms, the traditional favorite has white flowers, called the Vanhoutte (or "bridal wreath") spirea (Spiraea × vanhouttei). Vanhoutte spirea likes full sun and can be grown in zones 3 to 8. It 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 other examples of spireas with white flowers.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Hydrangea is another early-summer bloomer. A wonderful kind for admirers of white flowers is the Incrediball hydrangea. It got its name from the incredible size of its flower clusters. The flowers do not have much of a smell, but they make up for it by lasting for a long time. In fact, they will last right through fall, thus providing autumn interest, although their color will change from white to brown (sometimes with pink mixed in). Some types of hydrangeas change their color based on soil pH, but Incrediball is a type that has white flowers regardless of soil makeup.
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Snows of Kilimanjaro
Another option is this tropical specimen, a plant suited to gardens in zones 10 to 13. Snows of Kilimanjaro (Euphorbia leucocephala) is a white-flowering shrub that reaches a height of 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). In fact, an alternate common name for E. leucocephala is "little Christmas flower."
As with the poinsettias, its flowering is governed by the length of daylight hours. It comes into bloom as the days shorten in your region. It has a rounded growth habit. When the fragrant, white flowers come out, the bush reminds you of a giant snowball. To promote that snowball 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. Snows of Kilimanjaro can be grown in full sun to partial shade in well-drained soil, but full sun is preferred for creating a dense snowball shape.