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 until summer annuals bloom. That is why it is important to stock your yard with early summer flowering shrubs. Here are 10 shrubs that bloom in early summer in cooler climates.

  • 01 of 10

    Neon Flash Spirea (Spiraea japonica 'Neon Flash')

    Neon Flash spirea in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    'Neon Flash' spirea begins blooming in late spring, but it will carry some of that color into early summer. It is a reblooming bush that can also be in the category of late summer flowering shrubs. Not all spireas are valued for just their blooms. Spiraea 'Goldflame' is chosen for its foliage.

    • USDA Zones: 3a to 8a
    • 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 if you choose certain kinds of roses. There are many categories within the genus, Rosa, and landscape roses, such as Candy Oh! are very easy to grow.

    • USDA Zones: 4 to 9
    • 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. Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea, developed at North Carolina State University’s Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station comes close to satisfying the red requirement when it first blooms (the flowers later fade to pink).

    • USDA Zones: 3a to 9a
    • 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: 3a to 8a
    • 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: 6a to 9a
    • 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 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: 5a to 9a
    • 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 

    Smokebush, also known as smoketree, 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: 4a to 8a
    • 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: 3b to 8b
    • 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

    Oakleaf hydrangea offers four-season landscaping interest. 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: 5a to 9a
    • 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

    Virginia sweetspire is a shrub for fall color, first and foremost. They just happen to bloom in early summer. 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: 5a to 9a
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Height: 2 to 5
    • Soil Needs: Humusy; moist but well-drained

Watch Now: How to Prune Hydrangeas