6 Beautiful Spring-Blooming Shrubs

Lucy Mercer
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Shrubs are the foundation of a landscape, the steady stalwarts of the garden. That is, for most of the year. In spring, hydrangea and other shrubs cast off their coats and show off their blooms. Follow our step-by-step slideshow of six flowering shrubs to consider for your landscape. Plant one or more before the weather gets too hot. 

Click through the above slideshow using the arrow on the right.

Step 1

Easy-to-love hydrangeas will grow in all but the coldest North American zones. The colors range from blue to lavender to pink, with white and red shades, too. The blooms are sensitive to soil pH and thus, gardeners can tinker with the color by adding lime or aluminum sulfate to the soil. They are deciduous shrubs, dying back in the colder months, but make up for their time away with showy, long-lasting blooms when they emerge. Plant in sunny locations, except for coastal gardeners, who will want to seek light shade for their hydrangeas. Learn more about growing hydrangeas from the Garden Club. 

Step 2

Gardenias, famous for their heady fragrance, creamy blooms and evergreen foliage, are hardy from Zones 7 to 10. They can be finicky, but once you smell that sweet perfume in your garden, you’ll swear they are worth every little bit of extra attention. Gardenias prefer sunny locations with partial shade. They also like acidic soil, good drainage, and like any Southern belle, they appreciate liquid refreshment on hot summer afternoons. 

Step 3

Indian hawthorn (Raphiolepis) is a steady foundation planting with lovely pink and white blooms followed by dark blue fruit. The shrub’s new leaves will grow in red and bronze for more tonal variation. Hardy in Zones 7 to 11. 

Step 4

Full-blooming pieris just begs to be touched, with its dangling panicles of white and pink bells, er, flowers. Hardy from Zones 4b to 7, pieris enjoys the same conditions as its cousins, rhododendron and azalea. Plant in a sunny location with afternoon shade and shelter from wind. Pieris likes well-drained, acidic soil, and can be an excellent container plant.

Step 5

The glories of the spring garden, azaleas come in array of colors, sizes and blooms. They are hardy in Zones 4 to 9, and will thrive in containers as well as the landscape. Azaleas like acidic soil and filtered light — a reason why you usually see them planted underneath pine trees. There are evergreen and deciduous varieties. 

Step 6

Rhododendrons flower with spectacular clusters, or trusses, of blooms in late spring and early summer. The shrubs are hardy in Zones 5 to 8, and like azaleas, they require acidic soil and filtered sunlight with afternoon shade. Rhododendrons and azaleas have shallow root systems. When planting, make sure the top of the roots are at soil level. Mulch with 2 to 5 inches of pine bark chips or needles.

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