Shrubs add visual interest to gardens and landscapes by providing texture, different heights, foliage colors and sometimes blossoms and fruits. Aside from their aesthetic value, shrubs can be used to create privacy screens or hedges, to block unwanted sights or sounds, and to define borders or sections within a landscape. If you live in a hot climate or need to fill a sunny spot, choose shrub species that can tolerate full sun, or at least eight hours per day of direct sun conditions.
Evergreen shrubs keep all or most of their foliage throughout the year, even during cooler months. The hardy cliffrose (Cowania mexicana) retains its small, olive-green foliage and also produces fragrant, white flowers and feathery seeds. Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentate) thrives in sunny, dry spots. This silvery-leafed evergreen attracts birds and wildlife with its aromatic foliage.
Other sun-tolerant species less than 6 feet tall include Adam’s needle yucca (Yucca filamentos), China rose (Rosa chinensis), Chinese holly (Ilex cornuta), creeping gardenia (Gardenia radicans), dwarf natal plum (Carissa grandiflora), dwarf yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), juniper (Juniperus spp.), Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica), manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula ), red yucca (Hesperaloe parvifolia), Rose Creek abelia (Abelia x ‘Rose Creek’) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).
Deciduous shrubs lose some or all of their foliage in cooler months, but often provide interesting fall color and seasonal flowers. False indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) produces striking blue flowers throughout the summer and golden foliage in autumn. False indigo has the added benefits of drought- and deer-resistance. Golden currant (Ribes aureum) thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. This small shrub produces fragrant, yellow blooms in spring and colorful summer fruit that attracts birds to the yard.
Other sun-loving species that grow to less than 6 feet tall include barberry (Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea), blue stem willow (Salix irrorata), flowering quince (Chaenomeles japonica), Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), Japanese spirea (Spirea japonica/Spirea x bumalda), mountain lilac (Ceanothus fendleri), tea rose (Rosa odorata), three-leaf sumac (Rhus trilobata) and Western thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus).
Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis) thrives in full sun. This hardy plant requires little maintenance once established and keeps its blue- to gray-green needles year round. Majestic Beauty Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis umbellata 'Majestic Beauty') produces large, attractive foliage that ranges from bronze to deep green. This sun-tolerant shrub features aromatic clusters of pink flowers in late spring and early summer.
Other notable evergreen shrubs that can grow more than 6 feet tall include American holly (Ilex opaca), Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica), emerald agarita (Mahonia trifoliate), arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald'), California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera), central Texas sage (Leucophyllum spp.), curl-leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius), eleagnus (Eleagnus fruitlandi), Hollywood juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Kaizuka'), Italian jasmine (Jasminum humile), loropetalum (Loropetalum chinensis), oleander (Nerium oleander), photinia (Photonia glabra), pindo palm (Butia capitata) and Texas palmetto (Sabal texana).
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) thrives in full sun, especially in amended, well-drained soil. This hardy shrub also tolerates drought, pollution and compacted soils, and produces large, multi-colored blooms from July through September. Silverleaf butterfly bush (Buddleia alternifolia) can tolerate full sun, drought and clay-like soil. Shrubs produce long, arching stems that are covered with fragrant, purple blossoms in summer.
Other sun-loving deciduous shrubs that can grow more than 6 feet tall include beach plum (Prunus maritime), Chinese snowball bush (Viburnum macrocephalum), crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), lilac (Syringa vulgaris), mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), pomegranate (Punica granatum), possumhaw (Ilex decidua), red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea),sandbar willow (Salix exigua), serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana),Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) and Western chokecherry.
- Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service; Landscape Plants for Areas with Full Sun; Michael Dana, et al.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Selected Shrubs for North Florida; Robert J. Black
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Selected Shrubs for Central Florida; D. L. Ingram, et al.
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension; Large Shrubs; Charlotte Glen
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension; Small Shrubs; Charlotte Glen
- Texas A&M University: Outstanding Shrubs for Texas
- Photo Credit Juniper in Spring image by rikkidegraz from Fotolia.com
- Colorado State University; Native Shrubs for Colorado Landscapes; J. E. Klett, et al.
- Colorado State University; Xeriscaping Trees and Shrubs; J. E. Klett, et al.
- Virginia Cooperative Extension; Problem-Free Shrubs for Virginia Landscapes; Mary Ann Hansen, et al.
- University of Connecticut Plant Database: Juniperus chinensis
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Buddleia Alternifolia
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