Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Best Shrubs for Springtime in the Garden

Every Garden should contain at least one or two of these beautiful Shrubs.  Let's Review some of the most fragrant and lovely shrubs that you should find blooming in your neighborhood!

Springtime just wouldn't be springtime if you didn't see the fragrant flowers of the Forsythia bush somewhere in your neighborhood.  The bright yellow flowers that are borne on the branches of this shrub just scream Spring Is Here!  After some of the winters we've had in the past, this kind of screaming is what everyone is just looking for.

Flowering shrubs give a colorful respite to the gardeners who have looked longingly for something fresh and fragrant after months of enduring cold and bleakness.  It's a balm for the soul and a sight for sore eyes.
spring flowers collage
These beauties in the picture will just make you wish you had smell-a-vision.  Unfortunately, that doesn't yet exist, but who know what the future holds.  

Spring Flowering Bushes

1.  The first spring bush to actually bloom does so when temperatures are still pretty cold.  Pussy willows are fantastic bushes in February and early March.  The little fuzzy catkins are just so pretty on the bare branches and the real beauty is that you can and should cut these shrubs back really hard in the spring.  If you don't you will miss out on a beautiful spring arrangement that everyone just loves.  Once the catkins flower, they become elongated and fall to the ground, leaving behind a bush that is a lush green.  Many people who haven't grown pussy-willows will not recognize them once the flowering is complete. They are a beautiful bush but just very plain once the little catkins are finished.  

2.  Forsythia is probably the next bush you will see in full bloom in April or early May, depending on how warm it gets.  These bushes are also full of yellow flowers that are arranged all along the stems of the bush.  One branch could have hundreds of flowers all screaming "Spring is Here!"  In more northern areas, you can sometimes see forsythia blooming while there is a light blanket of snow still on the ground.

3.  Azaleas and Rhododendrons are the next family of shrubs to come into bloom.   These are beautiful and delicate.  They come in a variety of colors and every garden enthusiast that I know has tried to grow one or more of these beauties.  "Rhodies" as their gardener parents will call them, need some special care.  They love acidic soils and do their best when their needs are met.  If you don't want to "baby" your shrubs, you might just want to pass up on growing these.  Even though I love to baby my plants, I have not had any luck at all with these most delicate flowering shrubs.  Gardeners can be a stubborn lot, though so I won't say that I won't try again.

4.  Lilacs have got to make this list of Spring Flowering Bushes.  Masses of purple florets are borne on stems that hang from their weight.  The most common ones are purple in color, hence the color Lilac.  What many people don't know is that Lilacs can also be white and some are such a light purple that people often think they are pinkish.  These shrubs can be single flowered or double flowered and the smell is unbelievably wonderful.  If you have this bush in your garden make sure that you bring some of the branches indoors, it will scent the whole room.  

5.  Magnolias are another wonderfully early shrub.  The bush can be left to grow into a tree or it can be pruned to keep its form as a shrub. Flowers appear in Late March or Early May.  There are several different varieties of Magnolias some light pink, yellow and creamy white.  While the fragrance of the Magnolia is not as strong as Lilacs, it still has a lovely scent.  If you trim the bush, the wood gives off a most wonderful fragrance.  

Beautiful Shrubs not only smell and look nice, they will attract bees, butterflies and if the flowers become berries, you will also have birds in your yard.

A great list of flowering shrubs to look for in your growing area are:
  • Viburnum which grows from zones 2 to 9 depending on the type.  
  • Mock Orange with it's white deeply scented flowers grows from zone 3 to 9 again depending on the type.
  • Mountain Laurel is another beauty, related to Rhododendrons, they will grow in zone 5 to 9.  Do not grow this bush if you have young inquisitive children as it is poisonous.  
  • Deutzia is another beautiful shrub that will grow in zones 5 to 8.  It can be pink or white and smells beautiful. Not as well known as the Lilac, but just as beautiful and fragrant.
  • Bridalwreath Spirea, as its name implies is a beautiful white flowered bush.  Hardy in zones 5 to 8 it will grow large if you let it, but is beautiful when trimmed up too.
  • Heath or Heathers are low growing shrubs that are really pretty in white, pink and red.  Hardy in zones 5 to 7 it will not get taller than 10-12 inches. It is a low growing ground cover that loves the sun and a well-drained soil.
  • Camellias are a lovely shrub as well and will do well in anything above zone 6 and under zone 9.  Any colder or warmer and they are not at their best.  These flowering beauties are a sore sport for more northern gardeners.  They just don't do well in anything less than zone 6.
  • Fothergilla will grow in shady areas.  Beautiful white flowers are fragrant and plentiful on this bush.  Great in zones 5 to 9 it will not only look and smell nice in springtime but in the autumn it will give you another whole flush of color as the leaves change to reds, oranges, and golds.
  • Loropetalum is another beauty.  What Lilacs are to northern gardeners, Loropetalum makes northern gardeners green with envy.  Grown in zone 7 to 9 it loves full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Ninebark is an all around winner.  It will grow in zones 3 to 7 and will take drought and summers heat without giving up.  Beautiful foliage is an added bonus.
  • Beautybush is an old favorite that is making a comeback in many gardener's homes.  Pretty pink florets and the ease of growth make this a winner for everyone.  Hardy in zones 5 to 9 it holds up will in drought conditions and is deer resistant too.  
  • Weigela is the last but not the least on this list.  In my books, it would be one of the top bushes/shrubs because not only is it really pretty with its red or pink flowers, but it also encourages Hummingbirds to the garden.  Hardy in zones 4 to 9 this is a shrub that should be considered for your gardening pleasure.

Check here if you are not sure about what zones you are doing most of your gardening in.  

You will save yourself a lot of heartache and money if you purchase plants that will grow in your area.  If you are not sure, then follow the links below for gardening zone maps and find out what your garden zone is.  Once you know that it won't change unless you move, and it will help you make better choices for your garden needs.

Not sure what your gardening zone is?  Click here to see what zone you are gardening in if you are in the United States, or click here if you garden in Canada so that you can make the most of the bushes and shrubs that are featured here.

If you want to learn more or just enjoy looking at pictures of beautiful plants and gardens then you can always check out some of my favorite books and magazines.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. My favorite childhood memories about springtime shrubs in New York come from our yard which had a beautiful Pussy Willow in the back yard and two lilac bushes (one white and one purple) on either side of the back door. I love both to this day!

    1. Oh Pat Austin, I hear your memories and I think I must have lived very close by. We had the lilacs and my neighbors had the pussy-willows. We would share them equally back and forth so that we could have the best of both worlds.

  2. The colors and smells of spring are always welcome after a long winter! My early spring magnolias have already bloomed for the year, but they are always quite delightful. I do have a late-spring magnolia that has just started blooming though. Lots of beautiful flowering shrubs and bushes to choose from for sure and of course, I want them all.

    1. Me too Miss Sylvestermouse! I want them all, unfortunately they( some of the bushes and shrubs mentioned here) don't want the cold that I could offer in the winter. So I will just have to dream about having them all.

  3. I'm not sure I've ever seen pussy willows growing around here, but perhaps I don't recognize the green shrubs after they've bloomed. I'd enjoy having those. I do, though, have several forsythias and look forward to their gorgeous yellow blossoms every year. This year I saw quite a few azaleas, but they certainly are temperamental and I haven't had any luck with them in the past (too hot here, at least where I planted them). Thanks for all the additional suggestions. I'd love to add some new spring-blooming shrubs to the yard this year!

    1. Miss Susan Deppner, I did try to include zone requirements for most of the shrubs. Hopefully someone will see your request and bestow some lovely flowering shrubs your way for Mother's Day. That would be lovely in my humble opinion.

  4. The only thing I noticed in the list that I've successfully grown here in Vegas is the Mock Orange. It did very well for us, and was beautiful for many years. However our water ban and my inability to tend the garden came about almost simultaneously, so we no longer have it. But from my childhood in Indiana, I remember seeing Forsythia in the spring. That pop of yellow blooms was our notification of Spring. Azaleas are so beautiful too. My sister had them around her front porch. But for me, the smell of Lilacs in the spring, lifted my spirits and I could feel the re-birth of the earth after a long winter. Thanks for sharing this Olivia, I really enjoyed it so much.

    1. Glad to help you relive some memories Nancy Hardin! I think that Lilacs seem to be the most favorite and most remembered flowering shrub. I wonder if it's because of it's unique and incredible scent.

  5. I do love the lilacs when they bloom! Reminds me of my grandmother. My lovely magnolias bloomed early this year but only about half-way then it turned cold and nipped them. The bush that always says spring to me is the peony bush. My grandmother had several of those. Dark reddish purple ones, white ones and pink ones. When I see those in May it brings back such wonderful memories.

  6. Oh Beverly Owens, the list of bushes and shrubs could have been much longer, but I needed to draw a line somewhere. I didn't include the peonies because they are a little later for blooming than the others mentioned. I have to agree though, they are beautiful and come in so many colors and types. It's one of my favorites for sure. What I like watching is the birds using Magnolia flower petals to line their nests. Home must smell pretty good to those little birds.

  7. Lilacs and magnolias remind me of my homes in Texas growing up. San Antonio has loads of both and I love the fragrances of both to this day. Have not seen any magnolias here, but there are lilacs. Spring is finally starting here.

  8. Here too Heather Burns, it is coming on softly, just the way I like it. Most of the time it's Spring on Monday and by Wednesday it is full on Summer. This year the tulips are lasting so long, we can truly enjoy them. My shrubs too, as just starting to get excited over warmer temperatures...I'm not going to complain. I love the spring time.


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