What Kind of Flowering Bushes Grow Well in Northern Illinois?


Flowering shrubs grow well in northern Illinois, with its freezing winter temperatures, warm summers and adequate year-round rainfall. Flowering bushes bloom reliably with very little coddling from the homeowner, and are ideal for low-maintenance landscapes. Planted en masse, they make an impressive display when in bloom. Many varieties produce berries or other small fruits, providing food for local wildlife.


  • Growing to a mature size of just 2 to 3 feet with an equal spread, hypericum (Hypericum kalmianum) is also commonly called St. John's Wort. Its bright yellow flowers bloom in July and August, well set-off against the plant's blue-green leaves. Grow hypericum in full sun, in moist to wet soil, although it can tolerate some dryness. St. John's Wort is tolerant of adverse conditions and a good choice for urban sites. Plant in masses as a border hedge, near foundations, or feature it as a specimen plant in a smaller yard.

Red Twigged Dogwood

  • Related to the dogwood tree, red twig dogwood bushes (Cornus sericea stolonifera) bloom fragrant white flowers in spring, but are almost always grown for their unusually colored bark, which provides winter interest in the landscape. Dogwood prefers partial shade and will suffer in sites with full sun. Prune out the oldest branches yearly in late winter, as the best red color is on young branches. A named cultivar, 'Flaviramea,' has yellow bark. Another cultivar, known as 'Midwinter Fire,' has a combination of red, yellow and orange bark.


  • Native to America, buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) grows 6 feet tall in Illinois, with coarse-textured bark and creamy-white globular-looking flowers that bloom in July. The globes of flowers are made up of many tiny blossoms whose fragrance attracts bees. Buttonbush grows best in full sun but requires consistently moist soils. It can grow in wet sites along shorelines and it tolerates alkaline soil.

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