Flowering Shrubs And Bushes - Types Of Flowering Shrubs

White And Purple Flowering Shrubs
(Image credit: Binnerstam)

Just like some people light up a room, some shrubs light up your yard. Many of these are flowering bushes and shrubs that rely on their showy blossoms to capture all eyes. Not all flowering shrub varieties are up to the job though, so don’t just grab and go at the garden store.

If all flowering bushes don’t carry the same appeal, how to pick the types of flowering shrubs that are most ornamental? No problem! Just use the flowering shrubs list below that includes many of our very favorite selections.

Flowering Bushes and Shrubs

Bushes and shrubs are virtually interchangeable terms used to describe woody plants that aren’t quite tall enough to be called trees. There is no official height cutoff however, and many taller shrubs are called short trees, while shorter trees are called large shrubs. 

Bushes and shrubs also tend to have more than one stem or trunk. This is not universally true but a rule of thumb. And though all woody plants have flowers, we are focusing on the small set that have attractive or showy blossoms, as opposed to flowerlike structures. This excludes conifer from the round-up.

Types of Flowering Shrubs

There are a variety of ways to divide flowering shrubs into categories. One is evergreen versus deciduous. These are plants that don’t drop their leaves in fall and include most conifers as well as broadleaf evergreens like holly, Indian hawthorn, azalea, glossy abelia, gardenia and thorny Elaeagnus. 

Another way to categorize flowering buses is by their flowering period, often spring, early summer or late summer. But that’s not all. We can also put together a flowering shrubs list that divides the shrubs into their mature sizes, small, medium or large. 

Spring Flowering Shrubs

Spring flowering shrubs are gardener favorites since the blossoms arrive after the relatively bleak winter. Our favorite spring flowering bushes include lilacs (Syringa spp. and hybrids), presenting their blossoms in early spring, mid-spring or late spring, depending on the variety. You can get them with white, pink or lilac flowers and the smell alone will cause you to love them.

Other wonderful flowering shrub varieties are found in the rhododendron/azalea families (Rhododendron spp). These flowering bushes range from 18 inches (46 cm) to 20 feet (6 m) tall and can have flowers in shades of pink, purple, red and yellow as well as white. Most bloom mid-spring but some flower earlier. Some are evergreen while others die back in fall.

Summer Bloomers

We are great fans of hydrangea of all kinds - all wonderful flowering bushes and shrubs. But for summer blooms, you can’t do better than Limelight hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’), offering cone-shaped panicles in late July that last through autumn. The new blossoms are green, but this shade fades to white as they mature. They grow rosy pink as they age. Here’s a plus for ‘Limelight’: it delivers spectacular blooms even in partial shade. 

You’ll fall hard for butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.) and its honey-scented blooms, irresistible to bees, butterflies and other pollinators. The bush itself can grow to 10 feet tall with blossoms that look like lilac flowers but appear in shades of pink and indigo. The flowers just keep coming through autumn.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.