Here’s a list of my favorite perennial shrubs, most of which feature flowers to add color to your garden. Most will grow well in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 – 8:
- Rose of Sharon: This shrub hails from the hibiscus family, but is a heartier version that’s resistant to cold. It comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from a dwarf version with a maximum height of 3 feet to a standard size of 8+ feet. I love it for it’s unique and colorful flowers.
- Lilac: If you’re looking for a shrub that you can’t kill, the lilac is the shrub for you. It’s extremely hardy: you can trim it back to nearly nothing and it will reappear the next Spring as lovely as ever. Just keep in mind lilacs can get big, so regular pruning will be necessary if you hope to contain it. If you love the looks of a lilac but have limited space, look for a dwarf variety. And if purple isn’t your favorite color, white or pink versions are also available.
- Dogwood: In the summer months, the gorgeous red branches of the dogwood are obscured by it’s leaves, but in the winter months, the deep red color stands out against the snow. My favorite is the variegated version, with lovely green and white leaves. This shrub is a great way to provide year-round interest to your garden.
- Viburnum: Also known as the “snowball” plant, this shrub is easily recognized by it’s beautiful clusters of white blooms. Like the lilac, the viburnum can grow to be quite large and will need to be kept in check. However, it’s a lovely way to add additional privacy if you need to fill some space above your fence line.
- Hydrangea: Most people love the hydrangea for its outrageously gorgeous flowers, but I love it because it does well in the shade. It’s an excellent way to add color to the darker, drearier areas of your garden. Some varieties will grow quite large, so plan space accordingly. Also, hydrangeas love water, so avoid direct sunlight unless frequent watering isn’t an issue.
- Spirea: The spirea is a moderate growing dwarf shrub that will grow to 3 – 5 feet. It’s easy care and compact form make it relatively low maintenance and perfect for an informal hedge. It features bunches of pretty bright pink flowers as well as the colorful gold foliage of fancier versions, such as the Double Play Gold.
- Boxwood: Like it’s name implies, the boxwood holds it’s shape nicely. This makes it perfect for borders, neat low hedges, or as a filler for small spaces. It’s not particularly interesting to look at, but it serves a purpose.
- Rhododendron: The rhododendron is another great flowering plant for partial shade. However, when planting it, be sure that you have adequate space. It’s a slow grower, but some varieties will reach up to 15 feet over ten years. Also keep in mind that this plant is poisonous so avoid planting it where it may be a risk to pets or children.
- Potentilla: If you’re an amateur gardner like me, a potentilla is a great plant to start with. It does exceptionally well in adverse conditions and is extremely drought resistant (i.e. hard to kill). It’s moderate, mounded growth mean that it rarely needs pruning.
- Barberry: A barberry is a great way to add color to your garden because it’s deep red leaves last all Spring and Summer long. It’s a slow grower and usually only grows to about 3 – 5 feet, making it perfect for under windows or as a low hedge.