Shrubs are plants with woody stems that are smaller than tall trees. Within this definition, you find an almost endless number of species and cultivars. They come as perennial and annual; deciduous and evergreen; and tender or hardy, among other attributes that distinguish one plant from the other. Some shrubs are purely foliage and stems while others also adorn your landscape with their blooms.
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Japanese barberry is a deciduous shrub that thrives in full sun and moist soil. It reaches 5 feet in height and spreads 6 feet wide. Depending on the species and variety, this plant’s foliage is green, solid purple or purple with white spots. This shrub blooms in April, producing 1/4-inch yellow flowers. Some species also make red berries in autumn that last through the winter. You find Japanese barberry planted in groups, forming low hedges.
Unrelated to the maple tree, flowering maple is an evergreen shrub that gets its common name from its maple-looking leaves. Depending on the species, the foliage is solid green or variegated. This plant grows 1 to 4 feet and it produces showy blooms similar to hibiscus flowers, in light orange, pink, red and yellow, with some varieties making bicolor blossoms. Besides full sun, this shrub needs a warm climate and is best planted in a container you move indoors for the winter months.
Strawberry-tree is a tall shrub that passes for a short tree, reaching 8 to 15 feet in height and width. Because of its size and dense green foliage, it is often used for shade in areas of full sun. Mature shrubs develop flaky red to brown bark and produce showy white, gray and pink flowers, according to the University of Florida. Its fruit is yellow or red and it appears in the fall, attracting birds to your garden. Strawberry-tree survives in any soil type, but it prefers an acidic and well-drained environment.
The Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County say that Australian Fuchsia is a maintenance-free shrub. It needs no pruning and flowers continue to bloom without deadheading. In addition, it attracts birds to your garden and keeps the deer at bay. This evergreen also requires little water even as it stands under the full sun. Australian fuchsia produces elongated blooms in colors that vary with the cultivar, including pink, red, orange, cream and yellow. This shrub grows 3 feet tall and spreads up to 8 feet wide.
Gardenia is an evergreen shrub native of China that grows as a mound of dark-green foliage and fragrant blooms. Some varieties produce double blossoms that resemble roses. This plant flowers from early spring to early summer and, depending on the cultivar, it stops at 2 feet or continues to grow until it reaches 15 feet in height. Gardenias are also semi-tropical plants that produce the most blooms in full sun and humid conditions.