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25 of the best flowering shrubs – Deutzia x elegantissima 'Rosealind'

25 of the best flowering shrubs

Looking for a flowering shrub? We recommend 25 of the best for spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Flowering shrubs can bring a wonderful display of colour to the garden, whatever the time of year. In addition to their eye-catching blooms, they also provide height and structure, and are often excellent for attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. Some have scented flowers, while others also have additional interesting features across several seasons, such as berries or attractive autumn foliage. Some have evergreen foliage and look good all year round. Whatever you’re looking for, there’s a flowering shrub to suit every garden. 

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Grow shrubs as standalone plants in a lawn or front garden, mix them with other shrubs in a shrubbery, or grow them as an integral part of a mixed border of shrubs, perennials and annuals. Deciduous shrubs can also be underplanted with spring bulbs, which flower before the shrub comes into leaf, giving added interest.

Choose carefully and you can enjoy different shrubs in flower in every season of the year.

More on growing shrubs:

Flowering shrubs: jump links


Best spring-flowering shrubs

Camellia

25 best flowering shrubs – camellia
25 best flowering shrubs – camellia

Camellias are evergreen shrubs that bear rose-like flowers in shades of white, pink and red in February and March. They do best in a shady spot, and need acidic soil. If you don’t have this type of soil, camellias grow very well in pots of ericaceous (acidic) compost.

Height x Spread: 1-4m x 1-4m

Best for: Acid soil, shade


Japanese quince

25 best flowering shrubs – Japanese quince, Chaenomeles japonica
25 best flowering shrubs – Japanese quince, Chaenomeles japonica

Japanese quince (Chaenomeles japonica) is a wall shrub with beautiful white, peach or crimson flowers from March to May. Later in the year, it may produce green or yellow quinces, which can be made into jelly. It will thrive in most soils and in any aspect.

H x S: 1m x 2m

Best for: Wall training, any aspect


Azaleas and rhododendrons

25 best flowering shrubs – rhododendron
25 best flowering shrubs – rhododendron

Azaleas and rhododendrons both a produce a blaze of colour in April and May, in almost every colour, from whites, pinks and purples to reds, oranges and yellows. Azaleas are always evergreen, while rhodendrons are sometimes deciduous. They are best grown in shade and need ericaceous (acidic) soil.

H x S: 1-4m x 1-4m

Best for: Acid soil, shade


Flowering currant

25 best flowering shrubs – flowering currant
25 best flowering shrubs – flowering currant

Flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) has hanging clusters of tubular flowers, in shades of white, pink or crimson, which hang from gracefully arching branches in March and April and provide lots of early nectar for bees. They can also be grown as an informal flowering hedge. Grow in a sunny spot, in moist soil.

H x S: 1-2.5m x 1-2.5m

Best for: Wildlife, moist soil, flowering hedge


Ceanothus

25 best flowering shrubs – Ceanothus 'Concha'
25 best flowering shrubs – Ceanothus ‘Concha’

Californian lilac, or ceanothus, bears masses of gorgeous blue flowers in May. Many varieties are evergreen, some deciduous, and their size can vary from large shrubs to small trees. They are a good choice for a sunny, sheltered garden. The prostrate forms of ceanothus work well as ground cover.

H x S: 1-4m x 1-4m

Best for: Evergreen foliage, full sun


Lilac

25 best flowering shrubs – lilac
25 best flowering shrubs – lilac

Lilac (Syringa) is a classic garden shrub that produces fragrant pale purple, pink, dark red or white flowers in late spring. Depending on the variety, lilacs can be grown as a shrub or small tree, so work well in many garden situations. The smaller varieties are perfect for smaller gardens and grow well in pots. Lilacs thrive in a sunny location, in well-drained, fertile, humus-rich soil that is alkaline to neutral. They do well on chalky soil.

H x S: 1-4m x 1-4m

Best for: Fragrance, cut flowers


Best summer-flowering shrubs

Philadelphus

25 best flowering shrubs – Philadelphus ‘Manteau d’Hermine’
25 best flowering shrubs – Philadelphus ‘Manteau d’Hermine’

Mock orange (Philadelphus) is an elegant flowering shrub with pure white blooms that smell like orange blossom – hence the common name – in May or June. Their fragrance is especially strong early in the morning and in the evening. They are best grown near a seating area or doorway where you can enjoy the delicious scent. Some compact varieties are available for smaller gardens, and grow well in pots. The single-flowered varieties are loved by bees. Grow in full sun, in moist, well-drained soil.

H x S: 1-4m x 1-4m

Best for: Fragrance, wildlife


Japanese dogwood

25 best flowering shrubs – Cornus 'Venus'
25 best flowering shrubs – Cornus ‘Venus’

Japanese dogwood (Cornus kousa) is a large shrub or small tree, that’s covered in pure white flower-like bracts in early summer. These are followed by glorious autumn leaf colours. In a good year, the tree may also bear strawberry-like pink fruits in autumn. Grow Japanese dogwood in rich soil, in full sun to partial shade. It looks good as a standalone shrub in a lawn, or at the edge of woodland. 

H x S: 2-5m x 2-5m

Best for: Autumn fruits, autumn foliage


Rock rose

25 best flowering shrubs – Cistus monspeliensis
25 best flowering shrubs – Cistus monspeliensis

Rock rose (Cistus) produces masses of crumpled papery flowers, mostly in shades of pink or white, in midsummer. Each bloom only lasts only one day, but they are borne in abundance so the plant always puts on a good show. Grow in the middle of a sheltered, sunny, well-drained border. This low maintenance evergreen tolerates chalky soil and is a good choice for a seaside location. It’s a compact shrub so good for smaller gardens.

H x S: 1m x 1m

Best for: Chalky soil, seaside locations, smaller gardens


Deutzia

25 best flowering shrubs – Deutzia x elegantissima 'Rosealind'
25 best flowering shrubs – Deutzia x elegantissima ‘Rosealind’

Deutzias bring masses of colour to the garden in early summer. They have arching branches that bear clusters of star-shaped, scented, flowers, mostly in white or shades of pink, which are very attractive to bees. Some have variegated foliage. Grow in fertile, neutral to alkaline soil in full sun to partial shade. Compact varieties can be grown at the front of the border or as ground cover.

H x S: 0.6-2m x 0.6-2m

Best for: Chalky soil, sun, bees


Weigela

25 best flowering shrubs – Weigela 'Bristol Ruby'
25 best flowering shrubs – Weigela ‘Bristol Ruby’

The funnel-shaped flowers of weigela appear in midsummer, and range in colour from deep pink to yellow. They’re loved by bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. They appear against a backdrop of attractive deciduous foliage that ranges from dark green to light green, golden and variegated shades. Weigelas are easy to grow and look good towards the back of a mixed border, in full sun to partial shade. Compact varieties are ideal for the front of the border or small gardens.

H x S: 0.8-2.5m x 0.8-2.5m

Best for: Pollinators, attractive foliage


Lavatera

25 best flowering shrubs – Lavatera 'Mont Blanc'
25 best flowering shrubs – Lavatera ‘Mont Blanc’

Commonly known as tree mallows, lavatera produce large flowers that look like hollyhocks over a long period, often from June to September. In shades of pink or white, they are very popular with bees and other pollinating insects. Grow lavatera in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. Make sure it’s a sheltered spot out of any cold, drying winds.

H x S: 0.75-2m x 0.75-2m

Best for: Pollinators, long flowering period


Fuchsia

25 best flowering shrubs – Fuchsia magellanica
25 best flowering shrubs – Fuchsia magellanica

Fuchsias have distinctive bell-shaped and bi-coloured flowers that look like dancing ballerinas. The flowers bloom all summer and well into autumn, and there are many varieties available, in shades of white, pink, magenta, purple and red. Some varieties have golden or variegated foliage, or purple or red-tinged leaves, too. Some, such as Fuchsia magellanica, can be grown as a flowering hedge. Most fuchsia shrubs are hardy. Grow in a sheltered, sunny spot in well drained soil. 

H x S: 0.75-2m x 0.75-2m

Best for: Long-flowering season, flowering hedge


Buddleia

25 best flowering shrubs – Buddleia 'Cotswold Blue'
25 best flowering shrubs – Buddleia ‘Cotswold Blue’

Also known as the butterfly bush, buddleia is a magnet for many insects, including butterflies. The flowers come in a range of colours, including purple, pink, white and yellow. This fast-growing shrub does best in a sunny spot and well-drained soil. The smaller varieties are good for smaller gardens and pots. Buddleia has an informal look so is good for a cottage or wildlife garden.

H x S: 0.75-3m x 0.75-3m

Best for: Butterflies, sunny gardens, cottage garden


Hydrangea

How to grow hydrangeas – Hydrangea paniculata 'Kolmavesu'
How to grow hydrangeas – Hydrangea paniculata ‘Kolmavesu’

The huge flower heads of hydrangeas come in a range of shapes, from large balls to cones, and in a wide range of colours including white, lime green, pink and blue. They flower for weeks, usually starting in midsummer and continuing well into autumn. The foliage on some can be dramatic in autumn, too. Hydrangeas do best in moist, well-drained soil and dappled shade.

H x S: 1-3m x 1-3m

Best for: Long-lasting flowers, dappled shade, moist soil


Best autumn-flowering shrubs

Abelia grandiflora

25 best flowering shrubs – Abelia x grandiflora 'Goldsport'
25 best flowering shrubs – Abelia x grandiflora ‘Goldsport’

This bushy semi-evergreen shrub is smothered with scented white tubular flowers, flushed with pink, for months on end, starting in summer and continuing well into autumn. It’s also known as the bee bush, as the flowers are extremely popular with honey bees and bumblebees. It’s a good choice for a sunny mixed border or a cottage garden and can also be grown as a hedge.

H x S: 1-3m x 0.5-3m

Best for: long flowering season, bees, cottage gardens, mixed borders, hedge


Ceratostigma

25 best flowering shrubs – Ceratostigma willmottianum
25 best flowering shrubs – Ceratostigma willmottianum

Also known as hardy plumbago, ceratostigmas have unusual blue flowers that last well into October, contrasting nicely with the plum-coloured autumn leaves. They look great paired with asters. Grow towards the front of the border, in full sun or partial shade. Ceratostigma is drought-tolerant when established and the flowers are loved by bees.

H x S: 1m x 1.5m

Best for: Autumn foliage, bees, drought tolerant


Caryopteris

25 best flowering shrubs – Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Dark Knight'
25 best flowering shrubs – Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Dark Knight’

Caryopteris, or bluebeard, bears eye-catching deep blue flowers in autumn. It forms a compact mound of slightly toothed, grey-green leaves with silver hairs on the undersides. It’s perfect for growing in containers or towards the front of a sunny border. Its flowers are a magnet for bees and butterflies. Grow in well-drained neutral to acid soil in full sun.

H x S: 1m x 1m

Best for: Acid soil, bees and butterflies


Strawberry tree

25 best flowering shrubs – strawberry tree
25 best flowering shrubs – strawberry tree

The strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’ is a large, bushy, evergreen shrub or small tree that looks good all year round. It’s unusual in that its flowers and fruit (from last year’s flowers) appear on the plant at the same time. The bell-shaped flowers resemble those of heather, while its fruits resemble strawberries. They’re edible but have a bitter aftertaste if eaten raw, and birds love them. Grow in a sheltered spot in moist but well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. The strawberry tree is tolerant of chalk and acid soils and and thrives in coastal or polluted areas. 

H x S: 2.5m x 2.5m

Best for: Evergreen foliage, chalky soil, acid soil, wildlife, urban or coastal areas


Camellia sasanqua

25 best flowering shrubs – Camellia sasanqua
25 best flowering shrubs – Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua is one of the few shrubs that flowers in November and December, when little else is in flower. It attracts bees and other pollinators, at a time of year when little nectar is available. Grow in acid soil, or in a pot filled with ericaceous compost, somewhere you can enjoy its evergreen foliage and winter flowers, in partial shade.

H x S: eventually 3m x 3m

Best for: Evergreen foliage, bees


Best winter-flowering shrubs

Daphne

25 best flowering shrubs - Daphne Bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'
25 best flowering shrubs – Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

Daphnes are slow-growing, evergreen shrubs. They look good all year round but really come into their own in winter, when small, star-shaped flowers in shades of pink or white appear. These are extremely welcome when many other plants are dormant and are highly fragrant, too, in order to attract any winter-active pollinators. They’re a good choice for a shady spot in a small garden – grow near the house so that you can enjoy the flowers’ heady fragrance. Or cut a few blooms for the house – the scent intensifies indoors. 

H x S: 1-4m x 1-1.5m

Best for: Scent, pollinators, evergreen foliage


Mahonia

25 best flowering shrubs – mahonia
25 best flowering shrubs – mahonia

Mahonia, or Oregon grape, is a handsome evergreen shrub that looks good all year round. In winter, its cheery bright yellow flowers provide an invaluable source of pollen and nectar for winter-active bumblebees and honey bees and other pollinators when there’s little else in flower. These are followed by small dark fruits, which are enjoyed by birds. With their evergreen spiny foliage and do best in a shady spot. The more compact varieties are suitable for small gardens.

H x S: 0.6-4m x 1-4m

Best for: Wildlife, scent, evergreen foliage


Viburnum

25 best flowering shrubs – Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'
25 best flowering shrubs – Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

Viburnums are invaluable for their winter flowers. Some are deciduous and bear highly scented flowers on bare wood, often from November to March. Others are evergreen and produce large clusters of small flowers at the same time. Grow in full sun or dappled shade.

H x S: 2-4m x 1.5-4m

Best for: Scent, evergreen foliage


Witch hazel

25 best flowering shrubs – Hamamelis x Intermedia 'Strawberries and Cream'
25 best flowering shrubs – Hamamelis x Intermedia ‘Strawberries and Cream’

Hamamelis, or witch hazel, is a popular shrub for the winter garden. It has scented, spidery flowers in shades or yellow, orange or pink, which provide early pollen for honey bees. Some cultivars also have good autumn leaf colour. Grow in neutral or slightly acidic, well-drained soil, in sun or partial shade. Chinese witch hazel, Loropetalum chinense, is more compact, with the same spidery flowers and very attractive red, evergreen foliage.

H x S: 1-4m x 1-4m

Best for: Scent, bees, autumn colour or evergreen foliage, depending on type


Coronilla

25 best flowering shrubs - <em>Coronilla glauca</em>
25 best flowering shrubs – Coronilla glauca

Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’ or scorpion vetch, is an evergreen shrub that looks good all year round. It flowers in late winter and on and off through the rest of the year. Its pretty foliage and yellow flowers have a fresh appearance when much of the garden is dormant in the winter months, and it deserves to be more widely grown. Grow in a sunny, sheltered spot.

H x S: 1m x 1m

Best for: Evergreen foliage, long flowering period

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How to choose a flowering shrub

  • Decide what you’re looking for in a shrub – are you looking for flowers in spring, summer, autumn or winter? Do you want a shrub that has several seasons of interest, or evergreen foliage? Do you want the shrub to provide interest when not much else is happening in your garden, or do you want it to complement existing plants at a particular time of year, for a glorious display? 
  • Check that your site is suitable – check the site and soil requirements of your shrub
  • Check the ultimate height and spread and how fast it grows
  • Look at shrubs growing in front gardens in your area for inspiration
  • Ask for advice – many specialist nurseries are happy to discuss options with you
  • For the widest possible choice, visit a specialist shrub nursery or buy from a specialist online retailer.

Where to buy shrubs online

  • Thompson & Morgan
  • Van Meuwen
  • Burncoose
  • Bluebell Nursery
  • Primrose
  • Dobies