Upper Midwest Bushes: Choosing Shrubs For East North Central Gardens

Red Berried Bush
ENC shrubs
(Image credit: cg-art)

Shrubs are essential to the home garden and yard. For states like Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, you need upper Midwest bushes. These shrubs are those that grow well in hot summers and cold, snowy winters. While there are non-native bushes that will do well here, consider the many native shrubs that will thrive.

Growing Shrubs in Upper Midwest States

Shrubs are useful additions to gardens for many reasons. They offer a mid-range height in the landscape, visual interest between the height of trees and lower flower beds. Shrubs make great borders and privacy screens and are nice alternatives to fences and walls. Some produce edible fruit and pretty smelling flowers. Native species attract and support local wildlife.

When choosing among northern Midwest shrub varieties, look for those that will match your needs and growing conditions. There are plenty of native shrubs that will require less maintenance and will be more attractive to wildlife, but you can also choose some non-native species that do well in this region.

Best Shrubs for East North Central States

The shrubs you plant in your upper Midwest gardens need to be able to handle hot summers that are often dry as well as snowy, cold winters and sometimes big storms. There are plenty of options that include evergreens, deciduous, flowering, and fruit bearing shrubs.

Here are some popular ones to consider:

  • Dogwood - There are several native species of this pretty, spring flowering shrub. Even when the flowers and foliage are gone, dogwoods offer visual interest with striking yellow or red bark.
  • Viburnum - Varieties of this shrub do well in the upper Midwest. Since viburnum grows up to 10 feet (3 m.) high and wide and are dense, they make good privacy screens.
  • Red chokecherry - Chokecherry grows 6 to 8 feet (2 m.), produces white flowers in spring, red fruit in fall, and brilliant red fall foliage.
  • Common ninebark - This is a native shrub that makes a good choice for any area with difficult growing conditions. Ninebark tolerates sun and shade as well as all types of soil.
  • New Jersey tea - This is a Midwest native that grows just 3 feet (91 cm.) tall and wide. The foliage of New Jersey tea changes color through the summer and fall. Summer flowers attract butterflies.
  • Shrubby cinquefoil - This shrub grows low, just to 3 feet (91 cm.) or so. Shrubby cinquefoil does well in a variety of conditions, flowers all summer, and prefers full sun.
  • Rose of Sharon - Although not native, rose of Sharon is a popular tall shrub. It produces pretty, showy flowers beginning midsummer and through the fall.
  • American Yew - Choose yew for an evergreen shrub that can be trimmed into a hedge or border up to about 5 feet (1.5 m.) high.
  • Common juniper - This is another evergreen shrub that grows well in the upper Midwest. Juniper is particularly useful in dry, sandy locations. Native wildlife eats the fleshy cones.
Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.