How to Choose, Plant and Grow Flowering Shrubs

Flowering shrubs provide multi-season interest. Learn how to add them to your garden with these tips.
Smoke Bush

Smoke Bush

You might not think of smoke bush as a flowering shrub since its fall foliage is so striking. But when its clusters of small, greenish flowers are covered in fuzzy pink or purplish hairs, they look like puffs of smoke and the shrub becomes a real standout.

Photo by: Photo by Lynn Coulter

Photo by Lynn Coulter

You might not think of smoke bush as a flowering shrub since its fall foliage is so striking. But when its clusters of small, greenish flowers are covered in fuzzy pink or purplish hairs, they look like puffs of smoke and the shrub becomes a real standout.

Flowering shrubs are a versatile addition to any landscape. You can grow them as specimen plants, prune and shape them into hedges, or let them serve as a backdrop for annuals, perennials, vines and bulbs.

Some gardeners plant blooming shrubs to transition between a manicured lawn and a natural or wooded area, while others grow them to form a border around edible gardens.

Shrubs can provide privacy, offer food and habitat for wildlife or simply add beauty to your garden. Some peak in spring or summer with a burst of showy blooms, but if you choose carefully, you can find flowering shrubs that provide almost year-round interest.

Choosing Flowering Shrubs

Consider the growing conditions in your landscape before you go shopping, and read plant tags or labels to be sure the shrubs you want will thrive in your hardiness zone.

Also, select plants that require about the same amount of sunlight they’ll get in your landscape or garden, whether it’s full sun to shade or something in-between.

You’ll need to water most shrubs regularly for the first year after planting, if there’s insufficient rainfall, so also think about how far they’ll be planted from a source of water.

Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems are efficient watering methods. But if you live in a dry, hot climate, or in any region that suffers from periods of drought, you may need shrubs that don’t need a lot of water. Drought tolerant, flowering shrubs include butterfly bush, abelia, and Hydrangea paniculatas such as ‘Bobo’ and ‘Limelight’, among others. Natives are also a good choice, as they have adapted over time to your climate and soil type.

While most flowering shrubs put on their most beautiful show in spring and summer, some bloom into fall, including reblooming azaleas, Blue Mist spirea, camellias, loropetalums and hydrangeas such as the ‘Endless Summer’ series.

By winter, there are fewer choices, although witch hazel, Leatherleaf mahonia, flowering quince, winter jasmine, Japanese pieris and daphne are among the late bloomers that help bridge the gap between seasons.

When you’re choosing a shrub, make sure you have enough room for it to reach its mature size or you’ll have pruning chores in your future. Research how and when to prune your particular plant; cutting back too much or at the wrong time can remove the next year’s flower buds.

For multi-season interest, pick shrubs that produce fruit after their flowers fade or those with brilliantly colored autumn foliage, stems or branches.

Planting Flowering Shrubs

When you bring your shrub home, water it thoroughly and dig a hole twice as big as its root ball and about as deep. Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole, working in plenty of aged manure or compost, and remove any rocks, sticks or other debris.

Turn the pot over and tap on the bottom to loosen the shrub. Put it in the hole no deeper than it was previously growing.

If you’re planting a shrub that’s balled in burlap, leave the wrapping on when you place the root ball in the hole. The root ball should sit slightly above ground level. Position the shrub the way you want it, then take off the burlap.

Finish planting your container-grown or burlap-wrapped shrub by backfilling the hole. Use some extra soil to form a basin around it; this will help hold water around the root zone until it can soak into the soil.

Water thoroughly and deeply, and apply a few inches of mulch around the shrub, keeping it away from the stems. Mulch will help hold moisture in the ground and insulate the roots when and if the winter temperatures drop in your region.

Growing Flowering Shrubs

Remember to keep your shrub well and deeply watered during its first growing season, unless it’s a plant that prefers to stay on the dry side. Replenish the mulch as it packs down or begins to decompose.

Read about your plant to know when and how to fertilize and prune. With a little care, most flowering shrubs will ornament your garden or landscape for years to come.

Next Up

How to Grow Flowering Quince

These gorgeous flowering shrubs will brighten up any dreary winter yard.

Camellia: How to Care for and Grow

These Southern belle charmers stand up beautifully to Old Man Winter.

Japanese Kerria

Also called Japanese rose, this easy-to-grow shrub brings bright yellow spring flowers to the garden even when planted in full shade.


Read on for tips on growing these starry-shaped flowers.

Plant of the Day: Drooping Leucothoe

This HGTV Flower of the Day is favorited for its graceful, fountain-like form and leaves that become mottled cream and pink in winter.

Grow Guide: Why Won't My Azaleas Bloom?

Some reasons why your flowers may not be delivering this spring.

Chinese Hibiscus

The Chinese hibiscus attracts birds and butterflies and prefers a moist, well-drained soil.

Forsythia Springs Eternal

This brilliant canary yellow shrub is synonymous with spring.

Big, Bold Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas have become popular because they're big, they're bold and they show a lot of color around the garden.

Oleander Is a Dangerous Beauty

This shrub is a deadly yet desirable beauty.

Go Shopping

Spruce up your outdoor space with products handpicked by HGTV editors.


House Hunters Family

6:30am | 5:30c

Hidden Potential

8:30am | 7:30c

Hidden Potential

9:30am | 8:30c

Hidden Potential

10:30am | 9:30c

Hidden Potential

11:30am | 10:30c

Good Bones

12pm | 11c

Good Bones

1pm | 12c

Good Bones

2pm | 1c

Good Bones

3pm | 2c

Good Bones

4pm | 3c

Flip or Flop

5:30pm | 4:30c

Flip or Flop

6:30pm | 5:30c

Flip or Flop

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Flip or Flop

8pm | 7c

Flip or Flop

8:30pm | 7:30c

Flip or Flop

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

Flip or Flop

12am | 11c

Flip or Flop

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1:30am | 12:30c

Flip or Flop

3:30am | 2:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.