How to Identify Shrubs & Bushes


Shrubs offer our gardens the bulk and stability many landscapes desperately desire. There are small shrubs, medium sized ones and large bushes that give off wonderful scented flowers and beloved colors. Identifying your shrubs is important to know what soil they prefer, what fertilizer they need and how much sun and water will help them prosper.

Things You'll Need

  • Camera
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Tape measure
  • Identify the shape of the leaves on the bush or shrub. The rose bush has a teardrop shaped leaf with serrated edges, which come to sharp point. The azalea bush has long, slender leaves that appear like an elongated diamond with points at both ends.

  • Feel the leaf for distinctive properties. The hydrangea leaf could be mistaken for a rose leaf due to similarities, however the hydrangea leaf has coarse hairs that make the texture of the leaf rough. The holly bush (Perfect plant perfect place, R. Lancaster pg. 204.) has a leaf that is glossy and thick, somewhat resembling smooth rubber.

  • Check the color and shape of the blooms on the shrub. The azalea blossom consists of five to eight petals in bright hues of pink and yellow. The hydrangea bush carries blooms in clusters, with each individual flower holding four petals. Hydrangea is found in lavender, pink, blue and white, and each cluster consists of more than 100 individual flowers.

  • Measure the height and width of the bush in question. The cotoneaster bush grows to a mature height and width of 12 feet by 10 feet. In contrast, the hebe shrub only reaches a height of 24 inches. The hebe does spread though, reaching widths of up to 4 feet.

  • Note your findings in detail for later use in identifying your bush. Taking a picture will also help you correctly find the name of the shrub you are identifying.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some bushes require years to mature, therefore may not be of maximum height when measuring. It is best to only measure a bush that is over four years old.

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  • "Perfect plant perfect place"; Roy Lancaster Pub.; 2002
  • Photo Credit Hydrangea Flowers image by Shannon Workman from
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