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Select and Care for Flowering Shrubs

If you would like to maximize your landscape's looks, you should include flowering shrubs. There are plenty to choose from, no matter where you live.

Selecting and Caring for Flowering Shrubs

Selecting a Flowering Shrub

Selecting a Flowering Shrub

Shrubs provide visual transition between trees and smaller annuals and perennials. Flowering shrubs make excellent foundation plants. Use them singly as accent plants or grouped in mass plantings, planted in rows for privacy hedges and mixed in beds with annuals, perennials or bulbs. In addition to color, many provide fragrance as well.

The rose could be considered the king of the flowering shrubs. Here's a short list of other favorite flowering shrubs and their USDA Plant Hardiness Zone rating. Check your local Lowe's garden center for other regional favorites.

Some smaller ornamental trees are considered shrubs in some cases. Methods of pruning and environment affect their size. Crape myrtle, dogwood, magnolia and redbud are examples.

Hydrangea is a popular flowering shrub with an interesting trait. The bloom color varies from pink to blue based on the pH of the soil. Soils that are considered alkaline produce pink blossoms. Acidic soils produce blue/purple blooms.

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Caring for Shrubs

Plant flowering shrubs according to the information on the plant tag. Sunlight requirements, planting depth and spacing are important considerations when choosing planting sites. If space allows, plant various species for a succession of blooms from early spring through fall.

If your flowering shrub doesn't flower, it may be due to one of these common causes:

  • Too much shade - Like most blooming plants, flowering shrubs need exposure to full or part sun in order to produce their best flowers.
  • Improper pruning - In general, flowering shrubs are pruned soon after their blooming period has ended. Pruning at other times removes growth that would have otherwise produced buds and blooms. Determine the recommended pruning times and methods for your plants.
  • No food - Fertilize newly planted shrubs for the first 3-5 years (until they're established). As plants mature, so do their root systems, allowing better uptake of nutrients in the surrounding soil. Be sure to feed at the drip line, where absorption occurs.
  • Wrong food - Feeding with a high nitrogen fertilizer will increase foliage at the expense of blooms. Look for a fertilizer with higher phosphorus content to promote blooming. Your best practice is to use a food specially formulated for your shrub.
  • Age of the plant - Many flowering shrubs and trees must reach a certain age before they blossom. Lilacs are a good example. Be patient and don't give up on an otherwise healthy plant.
  • Cold weather - Unseasonably warm weather can "trick" plants into trying to break dormancy. If cold weather returns, tender new buds can be damaged. Usually the damage is not permanent and only affects the upcoming season's blooms.