14 Shrubs You Can’t Kill

Need a shrub? Check out these tough-as-nails beauties.
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©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Monrovia.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Photo courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

This native shrub is typically found along the edge of woodlands or meadows. Red velvety berry spikes appear on plants in late summer and linger through winter into early spring. Fall foliage burns bright red. Stout and fuzzy brown stems also add winter interest. Use in naturalized settings, mass plantings or for preventing slope erosion. Plants sucker readily. Avoid using in small gardens. Frequent mowing can keep new sprouts in check. Hardy in Zones 3 to 8.

‘Diablo’ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’)

Dark leaves make this a shrub a stand-out in the garden, especially when paired with brightly-tinted perennials, like butterfly weed, purple coneflower or giant allium. Pink tinged blooms appear in late spring. Plant as a specimen shrub, or use as a hedge or screen. Clip branches to include in bouquets. Hardy in Zones 3 to 7.

Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)

One of the most planted shrubs, burning bush is easy to overlook during all but the fall season, when leaves turn a vibrant red. Combine with dark evergreens to showcase the fall foliage. Look for dwarf varieties for small garden spaces. Use as a hedge or to create a screen. Include in foundation plantings or mixed borders. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.

Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea x vanhouttei)

Bridal wreath spirea bursts into bloom in mid-spring, forming a fountain of white in the landscape. Flowers linger at least one week, creating a breathtaking display. This is an old-fashioned shrub that’s very low-maintenance. Give it room to spread so branches can cascade freely. Count on bridal wreath for hedging, creating a screen or combining with perennials. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.

Japanese Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Pink Lady’)

Give your landscape a dose of late winter color with the hardy blooms of flowering quince. Blossoms appear on plants before leaves unfurl, transforming bare branches into wands of color. Depending on variety, flowers open in pink, coral, bright orange or white. Use as a hedge or specimen shrub. Works well in wildlife gardens; the dense, twiggy interiors provide good shelter for birds. Hardy in Zones 5 to 8.

Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo)

Include the steady color of an evergreen in your landscape with mugo pine. This shrub has tremendous variability in terms of size and growth rate. For slow growth and small size, choose named varieties like ‘Mops’ (2 to 3 feet tall and wide) or ‘Slowmound’ (3 feet tall and wide). Use mugo pine in entry gardens, along walkways or as part of a mixed border. Hardy in Zones 2 to 7.

‘Arnold Promise’ Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’)

Breathe life into winter scenery with the cheery yellow blooms of witch hazel. This native shrub flowers from January to March, depending on where you garden. Fall color features gold leaves. Include in a mixed border or plant as a specimen shrub. Flowers show up best when displayed against a dark background, like evergreens or a dark colored wall. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea)

Also known as red osier dogwood, this suckering shrub forms colonies in the landscape by sending up suckers or shoots. New growth glows bright red, which adds sparkle to the winter landscape. Use red twig dogwood as a hedge, screen or part of a naturalized garden. Prune one-third of stems to the ground each spring to encourage new growth, which has the brightest color. Hardy in Zones 3 to 7.

Black Beauty Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Gerda’)

Beautiful dark leaves bring a ferny texture to the garden. Count on this variety of the native elderberry to stand in for Japanese maple in colder regions. Pink blooms appear on plants in midsummer, followed by berries that birds can’t resist. Use in perennial borders, wildlife gardens or in a naturalized setting. Black Lace makes a nice hedge. Plant it with light colored plants or near a light wall so the dark leaves can shine. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

Border Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia ‘Lynwood Gold’)

This old-fashioned shrub has a sturdy personality that withstands all kinds of abuse. In early spring, gold blooms blanket the arching stems before leaves appear. Use forsythia for erosion control on a slope or creating a hedge or screen. Stems root where they touch soil, giving this shrub the ability to spread easily. Plant it where it can sprawl if you have little time for maintenance. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)

Stalwart and tough, creeping juniper is a groundcover shrub. Plants grow only 12 inches high but spread from 6 to 10 feet across. Look for specific varieties, like ‘Blue Chip’, with blue-tone leaves, or ‘Bar Harbor’, which tolerates salt spray. Use creeping juniper along walkways, in mixed borders or on slopes. Hardy in Zones 3 to 10.

‘Rose Satin’ Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Rose Satin’)

Count on rose of Sharon to bring bold color and bigger-than-life blooms to the garden. Flowers start opening in midsummer and continue for a few weeks. Blossoms come in a variety of hues, including white, red, pink and lavender. Butterflies and hummingbirds can’t resist the blooms. Plant rose-of-sharon as a hedge, specimen shrub or vertical element in a mixed border. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

‘Goldfinger’ Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa ‘Goldfinger’)

Potentilla brings on the color in the garden, opening flowers from early summer to fall frost. Blossom hue depends on variety and can include gold, pink, lavender and white. This low-maintenance shrub is drought-tolerant once established. Include potentilla in deer-resistant plantings or butterfly gardens. It also blends well in mixed borders, entry gardens or perennial beds. Hardy in Zones 2 to 8.

President Lincoln Lilac (Syringa vulgaris ‘President Lincoln’)

Choose President Lincoln lilac for a true Wedgewood blue lilac hue. These flower clusters are richly fragrant and open in mid-spring. Plants readily produce basal shoots, forming a flowering thicket that makes a nice informal hedge or screen. This lilac is hardy in Zones 3 to 7 and spreads 8 to 10 feet tall and wide.