11 Great Flowering Shrubs for Sunny Locations

Weigela florida many flowers close up with green
skymoon13 / Getty Images

Growing sun-loving shrubs with colorful flowers in that sunbaked spot in your yard is one of the best ways to make your landscape pop. While most flowering shrubs prefer sunny locations, the shrubs in this group have been selected for especially vibrant color and with a range of bloom times that help you plan a complete sequence of bloom. Guided by this list of 11 recommended shrubs, you can have something at its peak from early spring to late summer and early fall.

  • 01 of 11

    Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)

    Forsythia
    Bulgac / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil

    Forsythia is a great flowering shrub for very early season blooms in sunny locations, though it can work in part shade, as well. For many northern gardeners, forsythia is the first shrub that blooms each spring, almost as soon as the snow melts.

    The beauty of its yellow flowers makes this bush a must-have, but for blooms even earlier, consider winter heath or witch hazel.

  • 02 of 11

    Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

    Red flowers of quince Chaenomeles superba cultivar crimson. Spring beautiful flowering bush of red color
    olga_prava / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, orange, red, or pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil

    Flowering quince is another early bloomer for sunny locations. It usually blooms early enough to be in flower while forsythias are still blooming. If you grow these two shrubs next to each other, the yellow-orange combination makes for an eye-popping display. Flowering quince also comes in red varieties.

  • 03 of 11

    Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronarius)

    Philadelphus coronarius sweet mock-orange white flowers in bloom on shrub branches, flowering English dogwood ornamental plant
    Iva Vagnerova / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil

    White flowers are especially desirable for those seeking to create moon gardens. But you don't have to be a "moonie" to admire mock orange. Mock orange blooms in May to June, taking over after the forsythias and flowering quince have ended their display. Many people grow this shrub because of the citrus-like fragrance of its white flowers.

  • 04 of 11

    Weigela (Weigela florida)

    Weigela florida many flowers close up with green
    skymoon13 / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil

    The traditional species version of Weigela florida is an old-fashioned favorite, but there are plenty of new cultivars on the market now. The popular 'Wine & Roses' excites people with its dark leaves, against which the rosy-pink flowers stand out sharply. Other types have variegated foliage or golden leaves. Weigela flowers from April to June, and grow as high as 10 feet. It is an excellent shrub for borders, screens, or foundation plantings.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Mariesii')

    Viburnum plicatum Form tomentosum ' Shasta '
    TonyBaggett / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil

    Doublefile vibernum is a particular genetic form of V. plicatum that features flat-topped flower clusters forming two rows across the tops of the branches. Its white blooms appear in April and May. This fast-growing shrub can grow to be rather large (10 to 12 feet), so give it a healthy pruning after flowering is over each spring to keep its size manageable. Its fall foliage and berries can be nice bonuses, although this shrub often underperforms in this regard.

  • 06 of 11

    Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

    blossoming branch of a pink lilac
    palinchakjr / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: White, purple, burgundy, reddish-purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained soil

    If you want a flowering shrub with an in-your-face fragrance, you can do no better the common lilac. Blooming in early to mid-spring, a nearby lilac can often be identified by scent long before you see it. Lilac shrubs can quickly grow quite large (to 16 feet), so unless you have plenty of space, be prepared for occasional hard pruning.

    There are also other species of lilacs, such as pubescens, which includes the popular smaller cultivar 'Miss Kim'.

  • 07 of 11

    Candy Oh Landscape Rose (Rosa 'Candy Oh' Group)

    Candy Oh! Vivid red rose flowers, in closeup.
    David Beaulieu
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pinkish red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil

    Rosa 'Candy Oh' falls into the category known as landscape roses (also called shrub roses). This group is known for being low-maintenance, which makes it recommended for beginners who are intimidated by the reputation of roses as being temperamental. 'Candy Oh' does not have the great smell for which many roses are famous, but what it lacks in the smell department it more than makes up for visually. This prolific bloomer begins flowering in late spring and continues into fall.

  • 08 of 11

    'Blue Chip' Butterfly Bush (Buddleia 'Blue Chip')

    Buddleja or Buddleia, common name is butterfly bush
    Zen Rial / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Light blue-purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil

    The traditional butterfly bush (Buddleia) is famous for drawing butterflies to your landscaping but infamous for being invasive in some regions. Enter the new cultivar, 'Blue Chip', a summertime bloomer that is marketed as non-invasive. It flowers continuously from June into September. 'Blue Chip' is also a nicely compact cultivar, topping out at about 2 feet tall. In some climates, this plant dies back to the ground in the winter, and is thus considered a herbaceous perennial.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)

    Red Hardy Hibiscus Blossom
    Deanna Kelly / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, red, pink, blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist soil

    Hardy hibiscus is so-called because it is an unusual cold-hardy species in the tropical Hibiscus genus. Another common name pays tribute the impressive size of its flowers (up to 10 inches across)—dinner-plate hibiscus. Both these facts make it unusual for northern gardens. It is also the unusual flowering shrub that blooms in late summer, thereby helping you plug a bloom sequence gap between the floral abundance of early summer and the onset of the fall foliage season. Hardy hibiscus grows to a maximum of 5 to 7 feet. It is typically used in rain gardens and other moist areas of the landscape.

  • 10 of 11

    Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

    Syrian ketmia pink with red center rose of Sharon 'Hamabo' flower on a sunny day.
    matricul / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink with red centers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil

    Another type of hibiscus that tolerates cold and blooms in late summer and fall is the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus). Cultivars popular at garden centers include: 

    Rose of Sharon flowers from early summer through mid-fall, and grows 8 to 12 feet tall. It is typically used in informal hedges or screens, or in naturalized masses.

  • 11 of 11

    Bluebeard (Caryopteris × clandonensis)

    Closeup of a Caryopteris in Bloom
    egschiller / Getty Images
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil

    Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) is another late bloomer, producing flowers from mid-summer into early fall. Growing 2 to 3 feet tall, this is a rare shrub that has genuinely blue flowers. It is sometimes planted as a low hedge, but also works well planted in groups or masses.