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Best Shrubs for Summer

Mention of the best shrubs of summer for northern climates has to include hydrangeas and hardy types of Hibiscus. Hydrangeas begin furnishing color in early summer, and their sepals hang on right through autumn. Hibiscuses like rose of sharon and dinner-plates pick up the torch in mid-summer, yielding a color bonanza in the summer-weary landscape.

Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangeas
If you know Annabelle hydrangeas, you know that they are cold-hardy, bloom on new wood and -- best of all -- sport large flower heads. You also know that their color palette is restricted to white. Admirers have been hoping for a hydrangea with all of Annabelle's virtues, but with pink flowers. Enter 'Invincibelle Spirit'....

Incrediball Hydrangeas
Incrediball is an Annabelle-like hydrangea shrub -- but with stronger branches, supposedly. It needs those strong branches, because, as its name suggests, this plant produces incredibly big flower heads. Strong branches or not, you'll be impressed by the summer color it provides from late June (zone 5) on.

Nikko Blue Hydrangeas
Why are these hydrangeas among the best shrubs of summer? 'Nikko Blue' is valued for the "true blue" color of its blooms. If you adore blue flowers, you simply must grow this or one of the other hydrangeas that bring this soothing color to the red-hot summer landscape. Because the flower heads consist mainly of sepals, they persist through fall.

PeeGee Hydrangea: The "Tree Hydrangea"
Have you ever seen an old PeeGee hydrangea? The trunk can be huge, right? Well, that's why, to some people, PeeGee is the "tree hydrangea." But to be technically accurate, they are bushes. Find out what role this popular specimen plays as one of the best shrubs of summer.

Oakleaf Hydrangea Shrubs
Oakleaf is a giant of summer like the other hydrangea shrubs, but in my opinion, the bush is at its best in autumn. I say that because the fall color of its leathery leaves is exquisite! The sepals in its flower heads take on a pinkish hue as the summer progresses, adding further appeal to this 4-season powerhouse.

Hardy Hibiscus Flowers
Hardy hibiscus shrubs grant Northerners the option of having a tropical feel in the yard every summer -- without going through the rigmarole of having to haul plants inside for the winter, then drag them back out when next summer rolls around. The flowers can be large enough to merit the nickname "dinner-plate" (even the saucer size is plenty big).

Rose of Sharon: An Introduction
True to its Hibiscus roots (its botanical name is Hibiscus syriacus), rose of sharon starts blooming at about the same time as the dinner-plates begin to show color (late July in zone 5). It's easy to see why all of these hibiscuses are co-partners with hydrangea for the title "best shrubs for summer": they plug the late-summer color gap.

Blue Rose of Sharon Shrubs
The blue color of the flowers of Blue Chiffon rose of sharon are not as intense as the blues you will find among the hydrangeas: they are a powder blue, at best. But the flowers appear to be double, due to the presence of inner petals that lend the bloom a frilly look. It's a nice twist on the typical appearance of hibiscus flowers.

Double Rose of Sharon With Bi-Colored Leaves
Speaking of twists on rose of sharon, Sugar Tip goes even further. Not only is its pink bloom double, but also its leaves are variegated, making it a sweet addition to the landscape even when out of bloom. The interesting foliage alone would qualify this rose of sharon as one of the best shrubs of summer.

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