20 Flowering Shrubs to Add Color to Your Garden

Illustration of a person planting shrubs

Treehugger / Julie Bang

Flowering shrubs combine the best of both worlds by providing decoration and structure to your garden. These woody plants play an important role in landscape design, since they can spread quickly, offer privacy, and add eye-catching pops of color to any space. 

Incorporating flowering shrubs to your yard also benefits pollinators, something that should always be considered when choosing plants. Bees, hummingbirds, and other important pollinators rely on flowering shrubs as a source of nectar and pollen, while the shrubs themselves can also help sustain native insects and even prevent water or soil erosion. Here are 20 beautiful flowering shrubs for your garden landscape.

Before buying a landscape shrub, always check with your regional University Extension office or a local garden center expert for advice on shrubs that may be invasive in your area.


Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

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Common Camellia (Camellia japonica)

Pink camellia in Surrey, England, UK
Rosemary Calvert / Getty Images

An evergreen flowering shrub known as the state flower of Alabama, the camellia blooms primarily from winter to early spring. Despite being partial to the climate of the Southern United States, camellias are actually native to Southeast Asia. Their leaves are dark green and glossy, while their peony-shaped blooms have thick petals that range from white to pink and red. Planting a camellia is an investment, since some can live for over a century. 

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Morning sun to partial shade.
  • Water: Mature plants are more drought tolerant, but young plants should be watered about once a week.
  • Soil: Well-drained, acidic soil.
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Azalea (Rhododendron)

Pink azalea blossoms in a garden
Cyndi Monaghan / Getty Images

Fully bloomed azaleas are a good indication that spring has sprung, since almost all variations of these cheerful shrubs blossom in mid to late April. Flowers come in multiple shades of pink, purple, and white, and heirloom varieties can grow as tall as 12 feet high with the proper care. A subspecies of rhododendron, azaleas have flowers that are more evenly distributed throughout the entire shrub and have smaller, lighter colored leaves. Be sure to choose an azalea variety that is most suited to your climate, as some are more cold tolerant than others.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Partial shade. 
  • Water: Keep moist, but avoid overwatering since azaleas can’t tolerate soggy soil.
  • Soil: Acid with 5.5 to 6.0 pH levels.
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Alpine Rose (Rhododendron ferrugineum)

Pink rhododendron shrub
Simon McGill / Getty Images

The alpine rose, another rhododendron variety, is an evergreen shrub that enjoys blooms of whites, yellows, pinks, and purples in the springtime. They love being planted in partial shade under tree canopies (especially oak and pine trees) and are a favorite for residential landscaping or as shrub borders. Rhododendrons have thicker, dark green leaves and generally grow larger than their azalea cousins. Some types can be temperamental and high maintenance when it comes to soil, but most gardeners are able to overlook that in exchange for the plant’s beautiful spring blossoms.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to partial shade. 
  • Water: Twice a week during growing season and during dry periods after plants are established.
  • Soil: Prefers medium-moist, well-drained acidic soil.
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Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

Rose of Sharon shrub
matricul / Getty Images

Part of the hibiscus family, the rose of Sharon shrub shows off its large, abundant flowers from summer to fall. Species vary in size, from shorter 5-feet tall shrubs to over 10 feet. They are often planted individually or grouped together to create wider shrub borders to give off a tropical vibe, and are a favorite to hummingbirds and butterflies. Rose of Sharon flowers are typically distinguished from common hibiscus flowers by their pink petals with red centers, but they also come in light purple, red, or light blue.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Let fully dry between waterings.
  • Soil: Rich, moist soil is ideal, but these plants also tolerate poor soil.
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Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Purple hydrangea shrub
Manh Nguyen / EyeEm / Getty Images

If your soil isn’t acidic enough for rhododendrons or azaleas, hydrangeas make an excellent alternative. Hydrangea shrubs bloom large flower heads that look like clouds, are easy to grow, and are more versatile than other flowering shrubs in terms of landscaping. These plants thrive as individual accent plantings, as large hedges, and in containers, reaching full bloom in the summer. More experienced gardeners love experimenting with certain species of hydrangea that can change petal colors depending on the soil’s pH.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Keep soil moist, hydrangeas absorb water quickly.
  • Soil: Slightly moist and well-drained, slightly alkaline soil.
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Shrub Rose (Rosaceae)

A shrub rose bush
Masako Ishida / Getty Images

Shrub roses include a wide range of different breeds that are hardier and often easier to care for than common rose bushes. The shrub rose option is great for situations that call for more drought tolerant and versatile plants, though they often need protection in colder climates. Best of all, shrub roses come in a ton of different colors and most bloom once or twice per season.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: At least six hours of full sun per day
  • Water: Two inches of water per week in temperate climates
  • Soil: Well-drained soil with a loamy texture
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Andromeda (Pieris japonica)

Pieris or andromeda bush
RomanKhomlyak / Getty Images

Native to Japan, the andromeda plant is an evergreen shrub known for its bead-like, fragrant white flowers. These plants can handle full sun to partial shade, but are less likely to produce many flowers in shady conditions. The evergreen andromeda plant, which also goes by the name lily-of-the-valley, can grow up to 12 feet high. From fall to late winter or early spring, the shrubs possess their signature flowers, though their foliage transforms into a copper hue and blooms are replaced by red berries shortly after.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Water slowly and keep soil lightly moist constantly
  • Soil: Slightly acidic and well-drained.
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Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Mountain laurel flowers
masahiro Makino / Getty Images

Partial to eastern North America, the mountain laurel shrub produces uniquely bell-shaped flowers in white, light pink, red, or a mixture, from late spring to early summer. Often found in forests or woods — as they can tolerate both wet and dry conditions —, these plants are a perfect addition to gardens with more natural vibes. These shrubs often team up with azaleas and rhododendrons in the wild, so they will make a beautiful combination in your yard. 

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Partial shade.
  • Water: Moist is ideal but this plant is also drought tolerant.
  • Soil: Moist, well-drained acidic soil.
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Forsythia (Oleaceae)

Blooming forsythia flower
Anita Kot / Getty Images

Also known as golden bells, the bright yellow flowers of the forsythia shrub bloom earlier in the year than most. Most colorful in early spring, these shrubs are great for compact hedges, providing structure within a landscape, and even for use on trellises. Forsythia is able to tolerate different types of soil as long as it drains well, and plants with access to at least six hours of light per day will produce more flowers.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Evenly moist.
  • Soil: Medium-moist and well-drained.
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Lantana (Lantana camara)

Lantana camara is also known as red sage.
AYImages / Getty Images

Another favorite of butterflies, lantana shrubs have brightly colored flowers that bloom in late spring. Their small flowers grow naturally in a rounded clustered shape that often mix various colors and give off a slightly citrusy scent that pollinators go nuts over. If you don’t have enough room in the yard for an entire shrub, these plants also make wonderful additions to hanging pots, since their branches will spill over the edge naturally.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun.
  • Water: Deep watering once a week.
  • Soil: Well-drained.
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Cinquefoil (Potentilla)

Creeping cinquefoil flower in Italy
Federica Grassi / Getty Images

The lovely cinquefoil shrub is actually related to strawberry plants, and their dainty yellow, white, orange, or pink flowers are very similar in appearance. Beginning in June, the flowers will start to bloom and stick around until the first frost hits, while the small green leaves will change into a dark yellow color before falling off in autumn. These shrubs can also tolerate colder climates and conditions with poor soil. 

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun or partial shade. 
  • Water: Once or twice a week during high heat
  • Soil: Prefers well-draining soils but can tolerate different pH levels and soil textures. 
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Mock Orange (Pittosporum tobira)

White and yellow Japanese pittosporum plant
Klavdiya Volkova / Getty Images

These evergreen shrubs are long-living and low maintenance, reaching up to 12 feet high and 12 feet across easily. Since they are fast growing and tend to get quite large, most gardeners prefer to give these shrubs a hard pruning once or twice a year to keep them under control. They can tolerate drought, over-pruning, and even salt spray, while its tiny flowers bloom in the late spring. True to its name, the mock orange has a slight citrusy scent similar to orange blossoms. 

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Water: Wait until the soil is dry to water.
  • Soil: Well-drained, loamy soil.
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Slender Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis)

White flowers on the slender deutzia shrub
skymoon13 / Getty Images

For gardeners who don’t have much access to full sun, the slender deutzia offers a fantastic option as a flowering shrub that can blossom in the shade. There are even varieties that can function as ground cover, since they spread over wide areas despite being short. The hardy deutzia is a late spring bloomer with small fragrant flowers that grow abundantly. The bell shaped flowers are also short-lived, only appearing for a couple of weeks during spring.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Soak once a week during hotter months, but the deutzia is tolerant to drought.
  • Soil: Prefers medium moisture but is tolerant of clay soil.
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Periwinkle (Vinca minor)

Vinca rosea (periwinkle) shrub
Akiko Aoki / Getty Images

Although these fast-growing shrubs can easily overtake a garden if left unsupervised, periwinkle provides exceptional erosion control and can grow even in dense shade. Periwinkle flowers are light blue and bloom late in the spring, and the plant itself is pretty resilient. Once the shrub is established, it becomes drought resistant and is difficult to remove. It’s also low maintenance and one plant can spread over 8 feet across if allowed.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Partially shaded. 
  • Water: Every other week or when the top two inches of soil feel dry.
  • Soil: Acidic and slightly dry.
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Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Poinsettia bush
Simon McGill / Getty Images

No, they’re not just for holiday decoration. The poinsettia is a showstopping shrub with bright, broad flower petals that can grow up to 10 feet in height if well taken care of. Funnily enough, these traditional holiday flowers don’t love the cold weather (which means you shouldn’t plant them in your garden right after Christmas) and prefer tropical temperatures over 45 degrees Fahrenheit. They also do better in well-lit locations that are protected from harsh winds that can damage their flowers.  

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: At least six hours of light per day.
  • Water: Regularly to keep soil moist.
  • Soil: Slightly acidic, well-draining soil.
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Rose of China (Hibiscus syriacus)

Rose of China (Hibiscus syriacus)
danielvfung / Getty Images

Like the rose of Sharon, the rose of China is a member of the hibiscus family, offering thick, beautiful flowers with large stamens. Also called the Hawaiian hibiscus or the Chinese hibiscus, these plants come in a variety of bright, tropical colors, from red and pink to yellow and orange, and can grow about 15 feet in height. Although these shrubs are popular indoor plants for growing in pots or planters, rose of China also does well outdoors when planted in the spring or fall, especially in tropical conditions.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Daily or depending on heat and humidity.
  • Soil: Well-drained with plenty of organic matter or compost.
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Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
Sal Tinoco / 500px / Getty Images

If you’re thinking that a crepe myrtle sounds more like a tree, you’re not wrong. These plants are popular to grow as a tree in warmer regions, but are more often planted as a stunning flowering shrub in colder climates. They tend to flower in late summer, and their light white or pink flowers feature wrinkled petals that resemble crepe paper. In the fall, the dark green leaves shift to burnt orange, red, and dark yellow hues.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun for six hours daily.
  • Water: Needs ample moisture when young but tolerates drought once it's established.
  • Soil: Slightly acidic to acidic.
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Holly-Leaved Barberry (Mahonia aquifolium)

Creeping Mahonia shrub
Aitor Diago / Getty Images

The low maintenance evergreen holly-leaved barberry is very attractive year-round. In the spring, the shrub bursts with small, bright yellow flowers that attract different types of pollinators. In the summer, the holly-like flowers are replaced with dark blue berries, while in the winter, its glossy leaves turn purple and rust-colored. The shrub is often used as ground cover and it also fits perfectly into small nooks and crannies around the garden.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Part shade.
  • Water: Keep medium-moist.
  • Soil: Acidic, well-drained.
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Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

White gardenia flower
Ronald Tam / EyeEm / Getty Images

Gardenias are most known for their scent, which makes them a popular house plant, but they are also a very rewarding outdoor flowering shrub for gardeners who can take the time to give them enough attention. The tropical evergreen plant has shiny broad leaves and stunning cream white flowers. Part of the gardenia’s very specific growing conditions include high humidity and temperatures no higher than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to light shade.
  • Water: Soil should be kept consistently damp, but never soggy.
  • Soil: Moist, well-drained, and acidic.
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Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)

Star magnolia bush
Birgitta Astrand / Getty Images

Star magnolias can grow into large flowering trees with the right pruning. As a shrub, they offer mildly fragrant flowers with long petals that bloom in March or April, one of the earliest of the spring blooming flowering shrubs. Star magnolias can stay relatively contained and do well in smaller spaces, but do not like to be overcrowded with other plants.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to partial shade, but prefers full sun.
  • Water: Has moderate drought tolerance, so be sure to water during times of high heat. 
  • Soil: Well-drained, loamy, and acidic.
View Article Sources
  1. Wratten, Stephen D., et al. "Pollinator Habitat Enhancement: Benefits to Other Ecosystem Services." Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, vol. 159, 2012, pp. 112-122, doi:10.1016/j.agee.2012.06.020