Best Shrubs for Sun With Colorful Flowers

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. Choose from among these deciduous bushes to achieve the most colorful display possible. All selections are cold-hardy to at least growing zone 5, and all boast impressive flowers. They bloom at different times, which will be helpful when you are planning the sequence of bloom for your landscaping.

Guided by this list, you can have something at its peak in both early and late spring, as well as early and late summer.

  • 01 of 11


    Forsythia shrubs trimmed into a formal hedge.
    David Beaulieu

    For many Northern gardeners, forsythia is the first shrub that blooms in their yards each spring. The beauty of its yellow flowers makes this bush a must-have, but do note that a couple of flowering shrubs for sun bloom even earlier than forsythia:

  • 02 of 11

    Flowering Quince

    Old flowering quince shrub that has been pruned a lot. Beautiful early-spring bloomer.
    David Beaulieu

    Flowering quinces (Chaenomeles speciosa) usually bloom early enough to be in flower while forsythias still have flowers. This is a handy fact to know in case you should want to grow these two shrubs for sun next to each other: The yellow-orange combination makes for an eye-popping display. Flowering quince also commonly comes in red.

    While flowering quince and forsythia are early spring flowering shrubs, the next four picks will start blooming for you a bit later in the spring.

  • 03 of 11

    Mock Orange

    Mock orange shrub in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    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 (Philadelphus).

    Many grow this shrub because of its fragrant white flowers, whose smell suggests citrus (thus the common name).

  • 04 of 11

    Weigela Bushes

    Two pink flowers in closeup on a Weigela florida bush.
    Chris Burrows/Getty Images

    The traditional 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.

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  • 05 of 11

    Doublefile Viburnum

    Red berries of doublefile viburnum bush.
    dankeck/Flickr/CC0 1.0

    This kind of viburnum is so packed with flowers that they form two lines along the branches, rather than proceeding single file (thus the common name). This fast-growing shrub can also grow to be rather large. Give it a healthy pruning back 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

    Lilac Bushes

    Lilacs (image) are big, beautiful, fragrant. The purple flowers bloom in May.
    David Beaulieu

    Perhaps not everyone will appreciate the subtleties of mock orange's aroma. If you prefer in-your-face fragrance, then the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) may be a better choice for you. Besides, its flower heads are drop-dead gorgeous. The common lilac does come in other colors, as well (white and lavender are common), but most people's favorite is purple.

    There are also other species of lilacs, such as pubescens, a popular cultivar of which is Miss Kim. But for a heavenly smell, it is hard to beat Syringa vulgaris.

  • 07 of 11

    Candy Oh Landscape Roses

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

    Rosa Candy Oh is a type of landscape rose, a rose group known for being low-maintenance. This trait makes it recommended for beginners who may have been scared away from growing roses by the myth that growing roses is difficult. 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

    A Non-Invasive Butterfly Bush

    Blue Chip Buddleia with its clusters of lavender-blue flowers.
    David Beaulieu

    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 supposed to be non-invasive.

    Not sold on that non-invasive label? Full-sun plants that are alternatives to butterfly bush include:

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  • 09 of 11

    Hardy Hibiscus Plants

    Red dinner-plate hibiscus flower.
    David Beaulieu

    Hibiscus moscheutos goes by various common names, one of which pays tribute to the impressive size of its flowers (they can measure 10 inches across): dinner-plate hibiscus. Another nickname acknowledges its cold-hardiness: hardy hibiscus.

    Both traits will be appreciated in the Northern garden, as will another fact about this shrub for sun: It blooms in late summer, thereby helping you plug a gap in your sequence of bloom between the floral abundance of early summer and the onset of the fall foliage season.

  • 10 of 11

    Rose of Sharon

    Closeup of rose of Sharon flowers, pink withe red centers.
    Ian Le/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

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

  • 11 of 11

    Bluebeard Shrubs

    Super closeup of bloom of bluebeard shrub.
    Chris Burrows/Getty Images

    Like the types of hibiscus that are hardy, bluebeard (Caryopteris) is a late-summer bloomer. It continues flowering into autumn. Moreover, it is valued for its color: It bears blue flowers. Not all shrubs for sun tolerate dry soil well, but bluebeard is one that does.