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Types of Flowering Shrubs

A Selection of Bushes to Create Year-Round Interest

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forsythia flowering shrubs

Nothing lights up the spring landscape like forsythia bushes.

David Beaulieu

What are the best types of flowering shrubs for a landscape? Below, I answer that question by picking several types of flowering shrubs popular in temperate regions. The flowering shrubs discussed below do not, however, appear in a ranked order. Instead, the order is based on the seasonal interest they provide. Use this resource as a supplement to my Pictures of Flowering Shrubs.

When I say, "seasonal interest," note that I'm not limiting the discussion to flowering shrubs' blooms. In cold climates, any winter interest, for instance, to be found in flowering shrubs will obviously derive from features such as interesting bark or striking branching patterns. Note, also that blooming times for flowering shrubs suggested below will vary from region to region.

I begin with flowering shrubs that put on a colorful display in spring; I end with flowering shrubs whose fall foliage is noteworthy, plus an example that offers visual interest in winter. The premise that underlies my selection is that when purchasing flowering shrubs, we strive for year round interest in the yard, rather than merely an indiscriminate collection of plants. Without such a focus, we could inadvertently end up with a group of flowering shrubs that shine during the spring, say, but toil in relative anonymity for the rest of the year.

Flowering Shrubs for Spring

It's easy to find flowering shrubs that sparkle during the spring season. Your main challenge may come simply from having to choose from all the different types of flowering shrubs that bloom at this time! The following are just some of the more popular specimens:

Forsythia:

How could I not place forsythia before any of the other types of flowering shrubs that bloom in spring? Forsythia's bright yellow blooms in early spring are the light at the end of the tunnel, winter. If you like to force flowers, you can do so with forsythia even before spring arrives!

Rhododendrons and Azaleas:

If you assembled a group of people with very little plant knowledge and asked them to name some types of flowering shrubs, I bet rhododendrons and azaleas would be two of the names mentioned. That's how popular these two (related) flowering shrubs are. An added bonus is that some types bear evergreen foliage.

Lilacs:

Lilacs are late-comers to the spring parade of flowering shrubs, but it's easy to forgive such fragrant plants for their tardiness. You haven't lived until you've opened the windows on a late spring evening to smell the aroma of an old-time lilac wafted on the breeze.

Flowering Shrubs for Summer

Mountain Laurels:

If you live far enough south, mountain laurels will bloom in spring; but for me (in New England, U.S.), their blooming more or less marks the transition from spring to summer. In most regions where they are native, you'll find far more laurels out in the woods than you will in people's landscapes. But cultivated laurels do exist, such as 'Minuet' laurels.

Rose of Sharon:

Blooming in the latter half of the summer is rose of sharon. The blossoms of rose of sharon aren't as large as those on the hardy hibiscuses (Hibiscus moscheutos cultivars), to which they are related. But these flowering shrubs overwhelm you with the sheer number of their blossoms.

On Page 2 we'll consider some types of flowering shrubs that "aren't all about the blooms," making them valuable additions to the fall and winter landscapes....

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