The Best Flowering Shrubs for Landscaping in Every Light Level
Flowering bushes and shrubs are a staple in any garden. They provide showy blooms throughout spring and summer and lush foliage the rest of the year. And, they provide a perennial staple that can be maintained year after year. While outdoor plants are hardier than houseplants, many shrubs thrive and bloom best in a specific light level. Check out our picks for the best flowering shrubs for landscaping from full sun to shade.
Full sun refers to areas in your garden or yard that get six or more hours of sunlight each day. If you live in the northern hemisphere, full sun can typically be found on the south and west sides of your home. However, if you don’t have many trees in your yard and there are no other houses or structures nearby, you may be able to plant sun-loving plants on all sides of your home.
The Best Flowering Shrubs for Full Sun
Many of the best flowering shrubs for landscaping thrive in full sun on the south or west sides of your house and will reward you with bright, colorful blooms.
Roses are one of the most common flowering shrubs in the United States. They come in a massive variety of colors, including red, pink, white, and yellow, and can fit into nearly any garden landscape. Roses do best in full sunlight where they’ll receive at least six hours of sun a day.
Water your roses once a week during the growing season. When you need to supplement rainwater with a garden hose, aim the water directly at the base of the shrub. Roses are prone to disease if their leaves remain wet for too long, so we don’t recommend using sprinklers or watering from above. Prune your roses annually to remove dead branches and encourage healthy growth.
Forsythia is a stunning flowering bush that blooms bright yellow flowers in spring. While they can survive in part sun, they thrive and blossom best in full sunlight. Forsythias also prefer rich, well-draining soil to keep their roots from getting too wet. They like to be watered twice a week, either from rain or from the garden hose, but they can survive longer without water if need be.
Right after your forsythia blooms, it’s time to prune. Prune your shrub as you will to give it a nice shape for the following year and to prevent it from getting out of hand.
Lilac is another flowering shrub that does well in full sun and produces fragrant pink and purple flowers all spring and summer long. Lilacs are very low maintenance, making them one of the best flowering shrubs for landscaping.
Plant your lilac in well-draining soil with added compost (if you have it) to add nutrients and create better blooms. If you’re looking for a good lilac variety to get started with, we recommend the Bloomerang Dark Purple Lilac (a dwarf shrub that is the perfect size for the garden), as well as the Miss Kim Lilac (a more compact variety with impressive fall foliage).
Part Sun/Part Shade
Much like with full sun, part sun/part shade is typically found on the south and west sides of your home. However, these areas typically fall under cover like tree branches or a yard structure like a gazebo or pavilion. These covers allow some light to pass through, but also provide shade at various times of the day.
The east side of your home can also provide part sun/part shade since it gets morning light, especially if there are trees and shade structures present as well.
The Best Flowering Shrubs for Part Sun/Part Shade
While we often think of full sun as the best atmosphere to produce big, bright blooms, some of the best flowering shrubs for landscaping bloom beautifully in part shade, too.
While hydrangeas do enjoy the sun, they don’t tolerate the heat particularly well, so a part sun/part shade location is perfect. As long as you plant them in the right location, they are easy to grow, low maintenance plants that will bloom beautifully for years to come.
Hydrangeas like rich, well-draining soil with compost thrown in when possible. They need a deep watering once a week and may require even more water in the hottest weeks of the summer, depending on the amount of shade they receive.
Dogwood is considered one of the best flowering shrubs for landscaping because of its visual interest all year long. In the spring, dogwood boasts delicate white flowers (and sometimes berries, depending on the variety). But the real show begins in autumn when the green stems of the summer quickly turn bright red and stay colorful throughout the winter.
After planting, dogwoods need water once a week, either through rain or a garden hose. Once they are established and mature, they only need water during very dry spells and are considered a very low maintenance flowering bush for the garden. Prune annually to remove any browning stems and maintain their bright red fall and winter appearance.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, shade is most likely found on the north side of your home. You may also be able to grow shade-loving plants under full cover from an outdoor structure or at the base of a large, shady tree.
The Best Flowering Shrubs for Shade
While you will have fewer options for planting flower bushes in shady areas of your yard, there are still plenty of shrubs that will thrive under less sunny conditions.
Azaleas are one of the best flowering shrubs for landscaping because of their gorgeous spring blooms and minimal maintenance. They prefer well-drained, acidic soil, but are quite hardy and can survive even without optimal soil conditions.
Azaleas need to be watered regularly until they are established. But, once the plants have matured, they only need water in extreme dry spells. Prune each year after the blooms have faded for a neat, full shape the following year.
Rhododendron is considered the go-to shrub for planting in shade. They boast bright pink blooms for several weeks in spring and lovely green foliage for the rest of the year.
Plant your rhododendron in dappled sunlight, under the shade of larger trees or structures for the best results. After the initial planting, rhododendrons need light but frequent waterings, as they don’t like wet roots. Once they are established, they only need water during dry spells, or at the first sign of wilting, curling leaves.