Southeastern U.S. Shrubs – Choosing Shrubs For Southern Gardens

White Flowered Shrub Plant
se shrubs
(Image credit: igaguri_1)

Growing shrubs in the Southeast is an easy and fun project to beautify your landscape and add that all important curb appeal to your yard. Shrubs are among the most beautiful southern plants for landscape design.

Favorite Shrubs for Southern Gardens

Use flowering shrubs as single specimens for a focal point in the front landscape or as an attractive border that provides privacy. A shrub border may also block noise from street traffic or noisy neighbors. Take advantage of a mixed border to add all your coordinating favorites.

Classic Southern Azalea

In the Southeast, these sometimes-fragrant blooms are a staple in many beds and gardens. Azalea shrubs come in a variety of types and a range of colors. These early spring flowers may be red, pink, or white. Newly marketed varieties also come in shades of lilac and purple, such as the "Encore Autumn Amethyst" series. These provide blooms again in summer and even fall.

Flowers of these newer cultivars may be streaked, with picotee patterns or two-toned blossoms. Dappled sunlight from large trees provides the perfect growing spot for these bountiful blooms. They also appreciate the leaf litter that adds nutrients to the bed where they fall. Yellow flowering strains of the plant are now available.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

This is a favorite in the South because of the long lasting, cone-shaped clusters of white flowers. Blooms begin in summer and often last into autumn. Flowers later become tinged in pink or purple. Also a shade-loving plant, include this in a mixed border to take up shady areas. The plant grows in morning sun but provide at least afternoon shade when growing this attractive shrub.

Large, oak-leaf shaped foliage stays on the plant well into winter, providing red, purple, and bronze color as temperatures cool. Interest continues when leaves drop to expose the peeling bark on this specimen. It grows best in fertile, well-drained soil.

Large and spreading, the oakleaf hydrangea needs plenty of space to grow. If your border area is somewhat limited, consider adding a dwarf cultivar, such as ‘Pee Wee.’

Rose Shrubs in Southern Gardens

Grown in many beds and borders, the old-timey rose has long been a favorite among southeastern U.S. shrubs. Bushes and vines of many varieties grace gardens specifically grown to display this elegant bloom. Climbing roses often trail up walls and trellises, sending out colorful blooms on the journey.

The heirloom old garden rose, known to date back to the time of the Roman Empire, has been hybridized to create many beautiful blooms. These are colorful and fragrant, such as ‘Hybrid Perpetual’ and ‘Hybrid Rugosa.’ Many types were started from this heirloom. Roses are known to be high maintenance. Make sure before planting that you have the time and inclination to provide necessary care.

Grow roses in rich, well-draining soil where they will get at least six hours of sun daily. Be prepared for regular watering, fertilization, and disease control.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.