Making Medium-Sized Shrubs Manageable

Medium-sized shrubs make essential plantings for borders, features or screens. Learn more about 22 medium-sized shrubs to help you pick the best ones for your landscape.

Excerpted from Garden Design
  • Glamorous Glossy Abelia

    Glossy Abelia

    Glossy abelia is a vigorous, semievergreen shrub with dark green foliage and pinkish-white flowers that perfume the air from midsummer to mid-fall. Capable of being a freestanding shrub or informal hedge in an area with full sun and well-drained soil, glossy abelia does very well fan-trained against a sunny wall in colder areas. Expect it to grow to 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

  • Wintergreen Barberry

    Wintergreen Barberry

    A handsome evergreen shrub with deep green leaves, wintergreen barberry is often used as a screen. From spring to early summer, it produces clusters of fragrant yellow or red-tinged flowers, followed by egg-shaped, blue-black fruits. Wintergreen barberry will grow to 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide in ideal growing conditions: full or partial sun and well-drained soil.

  • Butterfly Bush is Fragrant and Easy to Grow

    'Lochinch' Butterfly Bush

    With its arching stems, soft gray-green leaves and talent for attracting butterflies, the 'Lochinch' is an elegant addition to any garden. In late summer, it bears long, tapering plumes of violet-blue flowers with orange eyes; deadhead regularly to promote further flowering. Plant the 'Lochinch' butterfly bush in full sun and well-drained soil, and watch it grow to 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

  • Bob's Tinsie Camellia

    Japanese Camellia

    Camellias make elegant evergreen flowering plants for gardens with acidic soil that is well-drained or moist, has partial sun and is well-shielded from cold, drying winds. New variations of C. japonica appear every year, for example 'Bob's Tinsie,' a 6 feet tall, 3 feet wide cultivar whose small red flowers are shown here.

  • Cool California Lilac

    California Lilac

    A good choice for a warm, sunny wall or fence situated on well-drained soil, the California lilac is a dense evergreen shrub with dark green leaves and masses of reddish-purple buds that open up to dark blue flowers. It will grow to 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

  • Red Bark Dogwood

    Twig Dogwoods

    Twig dogwoods hold year-round interest in their dense thickets of colorful young stems. The deciduous red twig dogwood, shown here, lights up the fall with leaves that turn red and sets a dull winter garden ablaze with its fiery colored stems. The shoots of the yellowtwig dogwood brighten up winter and announce summer's arrival with white flowers. Both twig dogwoods, which grow to 10 feet wide and 10 feet tall, thrive in well-drained soil and full sun, which will contribute to their colorful effect.

  • Bride Pearl Bush

    The Bride Pearlbush

    Pure white, saucer-shaped flowers cover the arching branches of this evergreen in late spring, making a beautiful display. Mound-forming and wider than it is tall - 10 feet wide versus 6 feet tall - the bride pearlbush is suitable for growing as a specimen plant, although it can also be grown in a shrub border. Plant the bride pearlbush in well-drained or moist soil where it will receive full sun or partial sun.

  • Delicate White Flower Heads

    Japanese Fatsia

    The evergreen Japanese Fatsia features long-stalked, shiny green leaves that have a tropical feel, striking branched clusters of creamy-white flowers and small black berries. Tolerant of coastal exposure, it prefers full or partial sun and well-drained or moist soil. Varied in its growing habits, the Japanese fatsia can reach between 5 and 12 feet tall, and 5 and 12 feet wide.

  • Bush Fuchsia Bears Dangling Bell Like Flowers

    Hardy Fuchsia

    In frost-free regions, this hardiest of the fuchsia species can be grown on its own or as informal hedging. Its small summertime flowers, with red tubes, long red sepals and purple petals, are followed by black fruits. To facilitate the hardy fucshia's maximum growth potential - 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide - plant it in full or partial sun and well-drained or moist soil.

  • Hebe Midsummer Beauty Produces Spikes of Color

    'Midsummer Beauty' Hebe

    Hebes are adaptable evergreen shrubs that suit a wide range of growing conditions, including containers, as long as they can get full or partial sun and well-drained or moist soil. 'Midsummer Beauty,' an upright, rounded heeb with purplish-brown stems and bright green leaves, bears tapering plumes of medium-sized, lilac-purple flowers from midsummer to late fall. Expect it to grow to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

  • White Blooming Diana Hibiscus

    'Diana' Hibiscus

    Large, long-lasting tropical-looking flowers are the main allure of the hibiscus, as in the wavy white petals of the 'Diana' cultivar, which is also known as Diana Rose of Sharon. Grow hibiscus to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide in full sun, and well-drained or moist soil.

  • Lace Cap Hydrangeas


    Excellent as specimen plants or in groups, in a mixed border or in containers, hydrangeas are versatile garden shrubs prized for their clustered blooms, which are available in a number of colors, shapes and sizes.

    Shown here, the 'Mariesii Lilacina' boasts mauve-pink to blue lacecap flowers which should be left on over the winter to protect the plant from frost damage. Another nice lacecap cultivar is the Villosa Group, whose large, purple-blue blooms stand out against the lilac-white flowers and the dark green leaves that form an attractive background. If you prefer a more muted scheme, consider elegant 'Annabelle' for its dense creamy-white flowers, or 'Snow Queen' ('Flemygea'), whose large, white flowerheads fade to pink with age.

    Although different hygrangea cultivars can grow to a wide range of heights and widths - from 6 to 10 feet tall and 4 to 10 feet wide - most do well in a variety of conditions, from full to partial sun and well-drained to moist soil.

  • Winter Jasmine's Early Spring Blooms

    Winter Jasmine

    Unlike most other plants, whose blooms follow their leaves, winter jasmine has the unique trait of bearing flowers first: only after yellow wintertime flowers brighen up the slender, arching shoots, do dark green leaves appear; prune once flowering has finished to maintain a neat shape. Winter jasmine adores full or partial sun and well-drained soil, and is ideal for training on a low wall or trellis, where it will grow to 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

  • Pink Cloud Beauty Bush

    'Pink Cloud' Beautybush

    A hardy, deciduous shrub, the beautybush's dense twiggy shape is softened by prolific bursts of pink flowers. At 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide, it makes a fine freestanding shrub or informal hedge. Plant the beautybush in well-drained soil where it will receive full sun.

  • Magnificent Star Magnolia

    Star Magnolia

    If you have the patience, the slow-growing, compact star magnolia is well worth the wait for it to reach its full potential of 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Plant in full or partial sun and well-drained or moist soil, and protect its delicate, pure white, flowers from spring frosts.

  • Sweet Scented Mahonia Japonica Evergreen

    Japanese Mahonia

    Invaluable in a winter garden, this handsome evergreen thrives in shady spots with well-drained or moist soil, where its dark green leaves glow with rich red tints. Arching spikes of fragrant, pale yellow flowers appear from late fall to early spring, followed by blue-purple berries. Expect the Japanese mahonia to grow to 6 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

  • Nandina Domestica the Ever Changing Perennial

    Heavenly Bamboo

    The bright red berries, red tinted leaves and small white flowers of heavenly bamboo, also known as nandina, give it a long season of interest. Plant in well-drained to moist soil, where it will receive full sun, to help it grow to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

  • Diablo Ninebark Foliage

    Purple Leaf Ninebark

    Grown chiefly for its attractive purple foliage, the deciduous purple leaf ninebark also features clusters of small pinkish-white flowers and beautiful peeling bark. Purple leaf ninebark will grow to 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide in full or partial sun and well-drained soil. Cut down to the ground in spring to rejuvenate.

  • Blush Pieris is Superb Shade Loving Shrub

    Japanese Pieris

    A versatile evergreen shrub for acidic soils which are well-drained or moist, Japanese pieris, also known as andromeda, has narrow, glossy leaves and tassels of flowers from early to mid-spring. The pinkish-white flowers of the compact cultivar 'Blush' open from dark pink buds. The Japanese pieris prefers full or partial sun and will grow to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide.

  • Black Lace Elderberry Attractive for Most of Year


    This graceful elderberry, also known as 'Black Lace,' is attractive for most of the year. The dark purple foliage provides color contrast in a mixed border. Pale pink, lemon-scented flowerheads appear in midsummer, followed by dark red berries. Full sun is best for foliage color, and well-drained or moist soil is preferred. Elderberry will grow to 10 feet tall, 6 feet wide.

  • Pretty Flowers of the Snowmound Cluster Together

    Snowmound Spiraea

    At its peak in early summer, the snowmound spiraea presents a marvelous display, with clusters of white flowers bursting from the upper sides of the arching stems. Deciduous, fast-growing, and densely leaved, it is a perfect backdrop for a sunny mixed border planted in well-drained or moist soil. Snowmound spirea will grow to 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

  • Pink Aurora


    Suitable for a border or woodland garden, viburnums are densely bushy with pretty dark green leaves and pleasantly perfumed flowers. Aurura Koreanspice viburnum, shown here, is mainly grown for its clusters of pink blooms, which emerge from red buds in mid-spring. For winter interest pick 'Bodnant,' whose rose-tinted flowers decorate bare stems from late fall to spring.

    Viburnums prefer full to partial sun and well-drained to moist soil, and can grow to a variety of heights and widths - up to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide.

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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