Late Spring Blooming Shrubs

List of the 10 Best Flowering Bushes for May and June

Late spring blooming shrubs sometime take a backseat to their more impatient counterparts that flower in the wake of Old Man Winter's departure. Those earliest spring flowers are rightly admired for their timeliness, putting a smile on one's face after months of cold weather. But let's not slight the later bloomers. Some are among the finest bushes in the landscaping world. Use my list below to help you choose between them, based on your priorities. For example, if you love fragrant...MORE flowers, I'll direct you to the best examples. Or if you expect a shrub to produce nice fall foliage in addition to floral color in May and June, I'll let you know which bushes fit the bill.

  • 01 of 10
    Gibraltar azalea (image) has deep orange flowers -- darker in bud. It's an Exbury.
    Gibraltar azalea has deep orange flowers that are even darker in bud. David Beaulieu

    This orange azalea blooms slightly later for me than another orange-flowered kind, Golden Oriole, which also bears flowers of a lighter color. A deciduous azalea, the shrub also furnishes fine fall foliage. But let's not get ahead of ourselves! The main thing I have to say about Gibraltar is that, if you like orange, then there's no better way to kick off the merry month of May than with the boldly colored blooms of this Exbury-type azalea.

    Interested in learning more? As with each bush...MORE featured on this page, simply click its image to access the full article about the plant, which includes growing tips.

  • 02 of 10
    Doublefile viburnum (image) gets its name from the flowers lining up double-file along branch.
    Doublefile viburnum derives its name from the way its flowers line up double-file along its branches. David Beaulieu

    Like Gibraltar azalea, Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum 'Mariesii,' a type of doublefile viburnum, has a precursor in my landscape from the same genus, namely, the fragrant Koreanspice viburnum. Whereas the latter begins flowering for me in April usually, May is Mariesii's time to shine. Another May bloomer for me in this genus is the viburnum known as "snowball bush."

    In discussing a "bloom time" for doublefile viburnum, however, it is important to point out that the...MORE showy part of the inflorescence is composed of sepals, not the true flowers (which are much smaller). Those of you familiar with hydrangeas will appreciate the distinction: sepals last much longer, thereby giving you superior display value.

    Doublefile viburnums are best known as prolific bloomers and for the unusual way in which their flowers line up along their branches, two by two. Under the right conditions, they also bear attractive berries and fall foliage.

  • 03 of 10
    Photo: tree peony. These lovely plants are considered sub-shrubs.
    Picture of tree peony. The plant is really a sub-shrub. David Beaulieu

    Unlike their better-known perennial counterparts (Paeonia lactiflora), tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa) are classified as sub-shrubs. Mine do not sport the heady fragrance of Paeonia lactiflora, which bloom a bit later in May. There's no denying the beauty of their flowers, though, which can measure 7 1/2 inches across.

  • 04 of 10
    Picture of Golden Shadow leaves in spring, when they contain some copper.
    Picture of the leaves when they first appear in spring, showing a tinge of copper. David Beaulieu

    While technically categorized as a tree, the growth habit of this pagoda dogwood allows me to include it on this list of late spring blooming shrubs. It shows a stronger proclivity to grow horizontally than vertically, and for years it will act more as a shrub in your landscaping than as a tree.

    Regardless of how you classify it, the salient point is that this is a multifaceted plant of exquisite beauty. I grow it primarily for its variegated leaves, which are at their best in spring. Its...MORE flat-topped clusters of white flowers so typical of dogwood shrubs are just a bonus when they come along in May or June. The dark-colored berries that follow are moderately interesting. But what I value most after the spring foliage is the unusual color of the autumn leaves.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Grow Diablo ninebark (image) for its leaves. The flower heads are nice, too.
    I grow Diablo ninebark more for its leaves, but the flower heads are nothing to sneeze at. David Beaulieu

    'Diablo' ninebark is another late spring flowering shrub (blooms in May or June in my zone-5 garden) that I grow more for its leaves than for its flowers. The namers of the cultivar must have agreed with me, because it is named for its devilishly dark-colored foliage. The leaves become even more interesting when, in autumn, they take on tinges of red and/or bronze.

  • 06 of 10
    Golden weigela (picture) bears attractive leaves as well as flowers. It's a W. Florida.
    Golden weigela has attractive foliage as well as flowers. David Beaulieu

    I planted my Diablo ninebark (above) right next to my golden weigela, in order to achieve a striking color contrast. This is one of three weigelas I grow, the other two being:

    • A variegated variety
    • The traditional W. florida

    I happen to think the golden weigela to be the prettiest of the three.

  • 07 of 10
    Mock orange picture. The flowers of mock orange bear a citrusy smell.
    Mock orange picture. David Beaulieu

    Mock orange's best claim to fame may be its scented flowers. Unlike the smell exuded by common lilac bushes (see below), the scent is subtle rather than overpowering. Its white blooms make it possible moon garden material.

  • 08 of 10
    Minuet laurel (image) has reddish-pink flowers. The blooms are impressive.
    'Minuet' is a mountain laurel cultivar with deep pink flowers. David Beaulieu

    Before I ever grew the 'Minuet' cultivar (pictured at left), I already knew mountain laurel to be a late spring flowering shrub. I live in New England (U.S.), where this bush covers many a forest floor. The woods are simply alive with mountain laurel's flowers during the month of June. Minuet is more colorful than the wild plant and well worth adding to one's landscaping.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Goldmound spirea flowers (picture) are a nice addition to the leaves. The latter are nice in fall.
    Goldmound spirea has pretty flowers in spring, but I value the leaves more. This shrub also bears good fall foliage. David Beaulieu

     As late spring morphs into summer, spireas come into their own. The blossoms of all the various types of spireas are ubiquitous in May and June, brightening people's yards. But with Gold Mound spirea (and the similar Goldflame) you get a two-for-one deal: pink flowers plus golden leaves. As good as that sounds, it gets better, because this bush is not merely a late spring standout: in autumn, a hint of red comes into the leaves, making it an interesting plant for the fall landscape, as...MORE well.

  • 10 of 10
    Lilacs (image) are big, beautiful, fragrant. The purple flowers bloom in May.
    Big, beautiful, fragrant -- what more could you ask of lilacs?. David Beaulieu

    There's no shrub I'd rather usher summer in with than lilacs. And there's no better indication here in New England that spring's about to peter out than seeing one's lilacs in full bloom. Breathing in the perfume from their marvelously fragrant flowers almost justifies the transition from the moderate temperatures of spring that I so enjoy to the more challenging climate of summer.

    Once those higher temperatures do arrive, the baton is passed on to the early summer flowering...MORE shrubs.