Perhaps one of the easiest ways to spruce up your landscape is by adding colorful flowering shrubs. It can feel tough to choose with so many different varieties out there––some prefer shade while others require full sun for their beauty to come to light. To help you in your decision-making, we’ve compiled a list of ten of our favorite flowering shrubs to point you in the right direction, including some great options for those tricky part shade areas.
Flowering Shrubs for Part Shade
Azaleas are popular flowering shrubs because their eye-catching and showy blooms can be seen as early as April. In fact, if you tuned into the Master’s Golf Tournament recently, you may have noticed an abundance of blooming Azalea shrubs lining the beautiful Augusta golf course.
These acid-loving shrubs are happiest with a soil pH of 5.5. They are most abundant when given 4 hours of sun per day, and their shallow root system loves moist organic matter. Azaleas are most commonly found in colors of white, red, and pink. Another prominent selling feature of these flowering shrubs is that all varieties produce a pleasing yet subtle fragrance. Visit our garden center to browse our current stock of Azaleas.
Certain hydrangea varieties make an excellent choice as shade shrubs, and their large, eye-catching flowers can easily turn a space from bland to breathtaking. Hydrangea flowers offer an array of colors, including bright blues, pale pinks, light greens, and varying shades of white or cream, plus so much more.
While a couple of varieties produce a light fragrance, most do not; however, what they lack in fragrance, they make up for with long-lasting blooms. Considered a florist’s dream, their blooms make great cut flowers, and many varieties can be dried and preserved so you can keep them forever. Our favorite shade-loving hydrangea varieties include ‘Incrediball Blush,’ ‘Summer Crush,’ and ‘Annabelle.’ Come talk to us about the science behind pruning these varieties and how to turn some of their flowers blue or pink!
The large, unwieldy mock orange of our grandparents’ era is not what we are discussing here. The new and improved cultivars of mock orange offer the same abundance of large, citrus-scented, white flowers, but in a much more manageable dwarf variety.
No fruits will grow on this shrub, and the flowering times usually only last a couple of weeks, though some varieties can bloom a second time later in the season. The dark green foliage continues to provide an attractive shrub that’s easy to maintain and will happily grow in partial shade. Our favorite variety of mock orange shrub is the hardy and stunning ‘Snow White.’
This flowering shrub is perhaps one of the most versatile on our list. Each variety is very different from one another, so choosing the right viburnum for you will depend on personal preference and hardiness zone. Viburnum shrubs have showy pink or white blooms and can be very fragrant; however, the scents can range from sweet to spicy.
The foliage ranges between dark green and light yellow in color with serrated edges and deep lines or a more smooth-edged leaf with a waxy, shiny coating. They sport bright, cherry-red berries or deep blue to almost-black berries. All of these details make Viburnum a high-interest addition to any garden or landscape. They also make great natural privacy screens for your outdoor living areas. A few of our favorite varieties are ‘Carlesii,’ ‘Juddi,’ ‘Autumn Jazz,’ ‘Blue Muffin,’ and ‘Marissei.’
Flowering Shrubs for Full Sun
Lilac shrubs are well-known to be easy keepers and are renowned for their fragrant perfume that fills the air during the spring flowering season. Most Lilac varieties thrive best in 6-8 hours of full sun per day. Each variety is slightly different and can blossom in colors of pale pink and creamy white, light purples, or even deep magentas. A few of our favorite varieties include the ‘Mt. Baker,’ ‘Dwarf Korean,’ and ‘Common Lilac’ (Syringa vulgaris). As an added bonus, flowering Lilac shrubs entice pollinators, and the blooms make wonderful cut flowers.
The bright sunshine yellow flowers of Forsythia are unmistakable! Forsythia does best in 6 hours of full sun per day, and its long-arching branches fill with blooms in early spring, kicking off the growing season with an immediate pop of color in your yard. They’re a bit of a fan-favorite among pollinators as well! ‘Show Off’ forsythia lives up to its name and is our personal favorite variety.
Rose of Sharon
A perennial hibiscus shrub, Rose of Sharon is perfect for adding a little tropical flair to your garden. These beautiful flowering shrubs do well with a little less sun, preferring a minimum of 4 hours of full sun, but a little afternoon reprieve in the shade won’t hurt. The bloom colors can vary with pink, red, purple, white, blue, and even violet options. A few of our favorite varieties include ‘Little Kim,’ ‘Little Kim Red,’ ‘Little Kim Purple,’ ‘Blue Chiffon,’ ‘Blue Satin,’ and ‘Sugar Tip.’
Believe it or not, roses can be extremely hardy and low maintenance! Shrub roses come in single or double bloom varieties and every imaginable color. While roses can survive in the shade, they are happiest and most abundant in 6 hours of sun per day. Too much shade, and you’ll be sacrificing the beauty of the blooms. Some varieties are very fragrant and are excellent shrubs for all-season flowering. We love the ‘Knockout Double Red,’ ‘Knockout Double Pink,’ ‘Sunny Knockout,’ ‘Drift Pink,’ and ‘Popcorn’ varieties.
This is a favorite flowering shrub for most gardeners due to its stunning blooms and easy-care requirements. Offering both spring-flowering and summer-flowering options, spirea is a keeper all season long. The spring flowering shrub grows a cascading display of snowy-white blooms on beautiful arching branches. In comparison, the summer flowering shrub varieties offer more foliage and flower color options with red, pink, or white blooms which grow on upright branches. Both options are gorgeous, so choosing which one you like comes solely down to aesthetic and personal preference. A few of our favorite varieties are ‘Magic Carpet,’ ‘Gold Mound,’ ‘Little Princess,’ ‘Double Play Tracy,’ and ‘Double Play Red.’
Another beautiful addition, weigela is a classic flowering shrub that’s also wonderfully low maintenance with its blooms doing best in full sun. The flowers can bloom in varying shades of pink, yellow, white, and red, while the foliage can be variegated, dark burgundy, or lighter colors such as gold and chartreuse. They will start to bloom in early spring and continue sporadically blooming throughout the summer and fall—just to keep you on your toes. These are also great for attracting hummingbirds! Some of our favorite varieties are ‘Spilled Wine,’ ‘Fine Wine,’ and ‘Wine & Roses.’
Yes, these beauties appear in both our shade category and our full sun category! ‘Quick Fire,’ ‘Limelight,’ ‘Little Lime,’ and ‘Firelight’ are all amazingly easy and incredibly stunning hydrangea varieties that flourish in full sun conditions. In addition, there’s a little less science behind pruning these ‘new wood’ bloomers, making it less worrisome when you bring out the gardening shears. All hydrangeas are shallow rooters, so be sure to offer them plenty of water as they are getting established, but don’t drown them! They don’t like to have their feet soaking in water.
For more information about planting flowering shrubs, feel free to give us a call! Or, better yet, come on in and walk along our garden center’s tranquil, flowing paths and gorgeous natural displays, all set in a residential area in the heart of Moline, Illinois. We’re happy to help with all of your landscaping needs. Our great garden center personnel and landscape designers are here to help you with all your landscape and gardening questions. Be sure to take some pictures with your phone. When we can visualize the areas you’re dreaming of beautifying, it helps us better understand your needs.