15 Recommended Flowering Shrubs for Your Home

Closeup of Kerria japonica flowers on a branch.

Manuel/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Flowering shrubs are an essential element of a well-design residential landscape. In addition to offering shape and texture with their leaves and branches, shrubs that bloom also add spring or summer color to the landscape while attracting butterflies and other pollinators. And where flowers bloom, fruits and berries often follow, which offer late-season interest and an incentive for birds to visit your garden. When a flowering shrub transitions into good fall color, you have a plant that creates genuine year-round interest in a landscape.

Here are 15 favorite flowering shrubs to consider for your garden.

  • 01 of 15

    Andromeda (Pieris japonica)

    Pieris japonica shrub in bloom.

    kate pabst/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    A native of Japan and China, Andromeda is an evergreen shrub 9 to 12 feet tall that produces fragrant white flowers in early spring, before most other plants flower. The reddish buds appear in late winter, offering attractive color in the closing months of winter. They are popular for use in foundation plantings and shrub borders, and they are somewhat resistant to browsing deer.

    Several cultivars are available that improve on the original species. Two varieties known for bearing new growth with good reddish color include 'Red Mill' and 'Mountain Fire'.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 7
    • 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
  • 02 of 15

    Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

    Rose of sharon

     

    matricul / Getty Images

    A member of the Hibiscus genus of the mallow (Malvaceae) family of plants rather than a true rose, rose of Sharon is known for its large, plentiful blooms that appear from summer to fall. Species types grow 8 to 10 feet tall, but there are shorter cultivars available, such as 'Minerva', which reaches 5 to 8 feet. Rose of Sharon can be planted individually as a specimen plant, or grouped informally to create a shrub border. It is very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink with red centers; cultivars offering white, red, lavender and light blue flowers are also available
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Prefers rich, moist soil, but also tolerates poor soil
  • 03 of 15

    Bluebeard (Caryopteris × clandonensis)

    Caryopteris shrub mixed with silver-leafed plants.

    Patrick Standish/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    The plants sold under the common name "bluebeard" or "blue mist spirea" are generally cultivars of a hybrid produced by crossing species from the Caryopteris and Clandonensis genera. Bluebeard typically grows 2 to 3 feet tall and becomes covered in dark blue flowers in late summer through early fall. It is often regarded as a sub-shrub since the stems die back to ground level in the northern part of the hardiness range, and it is sometimes grown as a perennial flower in those regions. This is a good plant for providing color in late summer, and it is very attractive to bees and butterflies. Bluebeard is often planted in perennial borders or in shrub borders. It has good resistance to browsing deer. A good cultivar is 'Longwood Blue', which is a slightly taller plant with a yellow-green color to the new leaves.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9; dies back to ground level in zones 5 and 6
    • Color Varieties: Dark blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 04 of 15

    Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

    Flowering quince shrub with pink flowers.

    Larry Miller/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Flowering quince is a thorny shrub with multiple stems that blooms in late winter and early spring before leaves open. Species types growing 6 to 10 feet in height, but smaller cultivars are also available, such as the Double Take series, which grows to only about 4 feet. This shrub is easy to recognize thanks to its distinctive pinkish-red or orange flowers. The spring flowers are followed by small, hard berries that can be used to make delicious tart jams and jellies. Its spiny branches make this a good choice for boundary hedges, but it is not a plant with much winter appeal after the leaves drop.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, orange, red, or pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil; prefers loamy texture
    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Forsythia (Forsythia x intermidia)

    Closeup of forsythia flowers on a branch.

    Michael Peirce/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Forsythia shrubs (Forsythia x intermidia) are among the first bushes to provide the spring landscape with a burst of color with yellow blossoms that arrive before the leaves open. Size varies depending on cultivar, with larger types growing to a mature height of 10 feet or more and smaller varieties growign to only 1 to 2 feet. Most forsythia shrubs have a spiny habit that makes them ideal for creating living "fences" or boundary hedges. Larger types and be used a specimen plants or trained on trellises. Some types make excellent foundation shrubs. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade; flowering is reduced in shady locations
    • Soil Needs: Loose, medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 06 of 15

    Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica)

    Closeup of Kerria japonica flowers on a branch.

    Manuel/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica) gives you profuse button flowers lining the stems over several weeks in spring, just after forsythia blooms. The stems are bright green in color and remain so during the winter. The species typically ranges from 3 to 6 feet in height, with blooms that appear in spring and last as long as six weeks. The shrub may rebloom in summer. Popular cultivars offer different heights, such as 'Picta', which grows to only 2 to 3 feet, or 'Pleniflora', a taller shrub that grows to 10 feet. Japanese kerria (sometimes called Japanese rose) is a good shrub for shady conditions in woodland settings. It is a very tough plant that can be regenerated by chopping it off at ground level in winter or early spring 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 07 of 15

    Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)

    Rose mallow or "hardy hibiscus" with white flower.

    Thomas/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Familiar with tropical hibiscus sold as potted plants, many people do not associate large-flowered hibiscus with northern landscapes. But hardy varieties with large flowers, such as Hibiscus moscheutos, do exist. The blossoms are so large that they are sometimes referred to as "dinner plates." Although they have woody stems like other shrubs, hibiscus stems generally die back to the ground in cold winter climates. Hardy varieties typically grow to a mature height of about 5 feet tall with a similar spread. The plants blossom in mid-summer to late summer, drawing attention for the entire bloom period. 

    Hibiscus plants have dark-green serrated foliage that is attractive but fairly sparse; these are shrubs that need to be planted where their large, showy flowers will be in full view. A pleasant-tasting, nutritious tea can be made from dried flowers. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, red, pink, blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture to wet soils
  • 08 of 15

    Rhododendron (Rhododendron Spp.)

    Rhododendron with white flowers and pink buds.

    jeiline/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Rhododendrons and their close cousins, the azaleas, include many species, hybrids, and cultivars within the Rhododendron genus of the heath (Ericaceae) family of plants. Rhododendrons can be evergreen or deciduous, and are distinguished from azaleas by their larger size and larger leaves, which often have a leathery texture. Rhododendrons are also often evergreen; azaleas are virtually always deciduous. Sizes for landscape varieties can range from a few feet to 20 or 30 feet, depending on species; the most common cultivars for landscaping range from 3 to 15 feet.

    Rhododendrons typically flower dramatically in mid-spring, with a wide range of bloom colors, depending on species and variety. Rhododendrons are most often used in shrub borders or woodland plantings, but the shrubs are of minimal interest after blooming is completed. These are somewhat temperamental shrubs, given to problems when soil pH or iron content is not ideal, but the spectacular spring blooms make it all worthwhile for many people.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9; range depends on on variety
    • Color Varieties: Lavender/purple, white, pink, red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium-moisture, well-drained soil; prefers acidic soil
    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Azalea (Rhododendron Spp.)

    Azalea bush with pink flowers.

    Toshiyuki IMAI/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Like rhododendrons, azaleas are very popular choices for spring-blooming shrubs and are quite similar in appearance, since they also belong to the Rhododendron genus. Azaleas tend to be smaller shrubs with smaller leaves than rhododendrons, but the flower colors and shapes are quite similar. Azaleas are early spring flowerers that thrive in woodland environments and prefer acidic soil. In residential landscapes, they are planted woodland groupings or used as foundation plantings. They work very well in a large yard planted against a background of evergreens, which provide some of the acid that azaleas crave. Azaleas typically grow to a mature height of 4 to 8 feet with a similar spread, depending on variety.

    At Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia, there are thousands of azaleas comprised of 35 different varieties. They are usually in full bloom for the Masters Golf Championship every year in April.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9; range depends on variety
    • Color Varieties: Lavender/purple, white, orange, peach, pink, red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium-moisture, well-drained soil; prefers acidic soil
  • 10 of 15

    Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

    Laurel shrub with red flowers with white centers.

    InAweofGod'sCreation/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    In eastern North America, the white, light pink, or red blossoms of mountain laurels light up the woods in late spring to early summer. Mountain laurel is a broad-leaf evergreen that provides year-round interest even after the blooms fade. In landscape applications, mountain laurel is ideal for planting under tall oak and maple trees. It works well in wet or swampy areas but also tolerates drought. In the landscape, it is best positioned in mass plantings combined with azaleas and rhododendrons, with which it often partners in native environments. Mature height is 5 to 12 feet with spreads of 5 to 6 feet, depending on variety. Dwarf varieties are available for more confined spaces. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9 (range depends on variety)
    • Color Varieties: Pink, rose, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained soil; prefers acidic soils
  • 11 of 15

    Rose (Rosa Species and Hybrids)

    Pink roses against backdrop of blue sky with clouds.

    Susanne Nilsson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Roses are perhaps the most popular landscape shrub of all, with species, hybrids, and cultivars available for every climate and every landscape use. A wide range of bloom colors is available from the palest shade of white to deep violet-burgundies that border on black. 

    • Hybrid roses with season-long repeat blooms are a favorite accent shrub, either planted alone or in masses.
    • Shrub roses that bloom once or twice a season are excellent as border or hedge plants.
    • Ramblers/climbers can be trained to heights up to 12 feet or more along walls, fences, or trellises.
    • Old-fashioned roses lend a delightful scent to a landscape. 

    Shrub and rambler varieties are often hardy well into USDA hardiness zones 3 and 4, but hybrid roses need winter protection in cold climates, or must be grown as annuals, planted afresh each spring. 

    • 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
  • 12 of 15

    Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

    Closeup of flowers from lilac bush.

    Maria Eklind/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    If forsythia tells you that spring is here, then common lilac shrubs (Syringa vulgaris) let you know that summer is coming. Not only are the blooms on common lilacs beautiful to look at, but they are also among the most fragrant flowers. Common lilac typically matures at 8 to 20 feet in height, depending on variety. The most common flower colors are shades of lavender and purple, but whites and reds are also available. Some varieties will rebloom in late summer or early fall. 

    This is a very tough shrub that will tolerate almost any condition. It may require periodic hard pruning to keep it from overwhelming a small yard. Lilacs make a great informal hedge line ​or can be planted as individual specimens.

    • 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
    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Vanhoutte Spirea (Spiraea x Vanhouttei)

    Vanhoutte spirea shrub
    David Beaulieu

    Vanhoutte spirea (Spiraea x Vanhouttei) remains an excellent landscape shrub, though it is no longer quite as widespread. It is a vase-shaped shrub with cascading branches. A relative to the rose, this thorny shrub typically grows to 5 to 8 feet, with profuse white flowers blooming in April and May. It is often used for hedges, foundation plantings, borders, or as a specimen plant. The pure hybrid has white flowers and deep green leaves, but cultivars are available offering other colors. 'Neon Flash', for example, has pink flowers, while 'Gold Mound' is valued for its golden leaves.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 14 of 15

    White Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

    Oakleaf hydrangea bush in full bloom.

    normanack/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Gardeners are fascinated by the way in which the blooms on hydrangea shrubs can be altered to pink, purple, or blue by changing the soil pH. But remember that some hydrangeas reliably give you white flowers every year, regardless of soil pH. Oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) is one such type, blooming with white flowers in spring and early summer on plants that grow to 5 to 6 feet tall. This shrub works well in mass plantings, as a foundation plant, or in woodland borders. The oak-like leaves provide attractive texture through the growing season, then turn a brilliant shade of red and orange in the fall. It is a good choice for alkaline soils that are unsuitable for azeleas and rhododendrons.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, transitioning to purple-pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium-moisture, well-drained soil; prefers slightly alkaline soil
  • 15 of 15

    Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)

    Korean spice viburnum flower cluster (white with pink buds).

    Andrey Zharkikh/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    The Viburnum genus includes many evergreen or deciduous woody shrubs and small trees, and Korean spice (V. carlesii) is one of the most popular species for landscape use. This slow-growing, rounded shrub grows to 4 to 5 feet tall (occasionally 8 feet), with pink buds that open into white flowers in early spring. Korean spices attracts butterflies but is of no interest to rabbits. The white flowers gradually turn pale pink and have a spicy fragrance that lends the plant its common name. The flowers give way to red berries that turn blue-black by late summer. The foliage turns red/burgundy in fall, making this a shrub that offers year-round appeal. A popular dwarf cultivar, 'Compactum', is a good choice where a smaller shrub is preferred.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Color Varieties: White transitioning to pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil

Gardening Tip

The vast majority of garden plants have a preference for soils described as "well-drained." This description refers to soil textures that are loose enough to allow rainwater and irrigation water to drain through without puddling, which can cause roots to rot. Ideal soil has enough organic material to hold moisture long enough for plant roots to absorb it, but it's loose enough to allow excess moisture to drain through.


Most soils, including loamy or sandy soils, are already relatively well-drained. But if you have dense soil that is high in clay content, you may find it hard to grow many plants. When this is the case, the best way to improve the soil texture is by thoroughly blending in organic soil amendments, such as compost or peat moss, before planting. As part of ongoing plant care, top-dressing the soil with additional organic amendments each year will keep the soil texture well-drained enough to nurture your plants.