10 Best Shrubs That Flower in Early Summer

Spireas, Hydrangeas, Roses the Most Popular Choices

Incrediball hydrangea in bloom.
David Beaulieu

Spring is such a magnificent time of year in the landscape that it is easy to suffer a letdown in its aftermath. That is why it is important to stock your yard with early summer flowering shrubs. Their follow-up act will take some of the sting out of losing the blooms on those wonderful flowering shrubs of late spring.

Here are 10 shrubs that bloom in early summer in the Northern landscape.

  • 01 of 10

    Neon Flash Spirea (Spiraea 'Neon Flash')

    Neon Flash spirea in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    Three kinds of flowering shrubs that are widely grown and among your best allies for early summer color are spireas, roses, and hydrangeas.

    'Neon Flash' spirea actually begins blooming in late spring (early June), but it will carry some of that color into early summer (late June and early July). It is also a reblooming bush; it could just as easily be slotted into the category of late summer flowering shrubs, in recognition of its annual renaissance in August and/or September.

    Not all spireas are necessarily most valued for their blooming prowess. Spiraea 'Goldflame' is valued for its foliage; the gold in the leaves of Spiraea 'Gold Mound' is even brighter.

    • USDA Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial sun
    • Height: 3 feet
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, loamy soil enriched with compost
  • 02 of 10

    Candy Oh! Rose (Rosa 'Zlemartincipar' Candy Oh!)

    Candy Oh! red rose flowers, in closeup.
    David Beaulieu

    Many gardeners shy away from planting roses, feeling that these early summer flowering shrubs are too difficult to grow. That is unfortunate because growing roses is not necessarily difficult: It depends on the kinds of roses that you grow. There are many categories within the genus, Rosa, and the bushes within one of them are very easy to grow: the category of landscape roses, such as Candy Oh!

    • USDA Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Height: 3 to 4 feet
    • Soil Needs: Average fertility, well-drained, and kept evenly moist
  • 03 of 10

    Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Invincibelle Spirit')

    Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    Americans will sometimes observe the 4th of July holiday season by growing red, white, and blue flowers in their flower borders. It is easiest to accomplish such color coordination using bedding plants, but occasionally people get a little more ambitious and try to work perennials and/or shrubs into the color scheme. Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea comes close to satisfying the red requirement when it first blooms (the flowers later fade to pink). Examples of white-flowered and blue-flowered hydrangeas abound. 

    • USDA Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 4 feet
    • Soil Needs: Fertile, loamy, well-drained, and kept evenly moist
  • 04 of 10

    Incrediball Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Abetwo' Incrediball)

    Incrediball hydrangea in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    This white hydrangea has an impressive flower head. What it lacks in colorfulness it makes up for in size. There is one caveat, though: as with some other large flowers, such as those on common peony plants (Paeonia lactiflora), they can fill up with rainwater and flop over under all that extra weight. Stake them if you find this a problem.

    • USDA Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 4 to 5 feet
    • Soil Needs: Rich, evenly-moist soil
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Nikko Blue Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Nikko Blue')

    'Nikko Blue' hydrangea in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    Grown in acidic soils, Nikko Blue will produce blue hydrangea flowers. This cultivar can be classified in either of two ways, depending on which plant part you are focusing on. In terms of foliage, it is a bigleaf hydrangea. But in terms of flowers, it is a mophead hydrangea.

    In spite of its cultivar name, do not assume that Nikko Blue will bear blue flowers. As with other types of H. macrophylla, its flower color is determined by soil pH.

    • USDA Zones: 6 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Morning sun, but with afternoon shade
    • Height: 4 to 6 feet
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, fertile
  • 06 of 10

    English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

    English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) blooming and massed together.

    Shelly Chapman/Getty Images

    English lavender is the smallest plant on the list. Indeed, many of you probably think of it as an herb rather than as a shrub. Provide it with sharp-draining soil and you will have a reliable early summer bloomer for years, with little maintenance. In addition to its blooms, it is valued as one of the plants with silvery leaves

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Height: 2 to 3 feet
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 07 of 10

    Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria)

    Smoke bush in bloom.

    VictorUA/Getty Images 

    Smoke bush is one of the landscape's more unusual shrubs. Its pink flower clusters look like puffs of smoke, giving it its common name. Adding further color to your yard are the purple leaves that some cultivars sport. This shrub has an upright, multi-stemmed growth habit. 

    • USDA Zones: 4 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Height: 10 to 15 feet
    • Soil Needs: Poor soil best, but it must drain well
  • 08 of 10

    Miss Kim Lilac (Syringa pubescens subsp. patula 'Miss Kim')

    Miss Kim lilac in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    Miss Kim is a type of lilac shrub that blooms later than the better-known lilacs (Syringa vulgaris). That is not the only way in which the two differ. For example, most people who grow lilacs for their smell prefer Syringa vulgaris. But there's a place in your landscaping for Miss Kim if you're seeking color from a shrub in early summer. 

    • USDA Zones: 3 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Height: 4 to 9 feet
    • Soil Needs: Loamy
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

    White flower head of the oakleaf hydrangea shrub in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    Let's end this list with two bushes that display multiple talents in the landscape, across various seasons. Oakleaf hydrangea is especially noteworthy in this regard, offering four-season landscaping interest. So do not get caught up on when its flowers bloom and what they look like.

    For the record, they bloom in early summer and look like typical hydrangea flowers. But this bush offers so much more than that. It would be worth growing for its fall foliage, alone. It is a must-have shrub in the Northern landscape. 

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Height: 4 to 8 feet
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
  • 10 of 10

    Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

    Virginia sweetspire with its fall foliage.
    David Beaulieu

    It is appropriate that Virginia sweetspire and oakleaf hydrangea appear last on this list of early summer flowering shrubs: They are shrubs for fall color, first and foremost. They just happen also to bloom in early summer. This is particularly true of Virginia sweetspire. Its spiky white flowers, if sufficiently numerous, are moderately attractive, but what sells you on this bush is the fall color of its leaves. The June blooms are just a nice bonus

    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 2 to 5
    • Soil Needs: Humusy; moist but well-drained