Cotinus

Shrubs that look good in July

Discover some of our favourite shrubs that look good in July, including picks for dramatic foliage.

Whether evergreen or deciduous, all shrubs are useful at providing structure and interest in the garden. 

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Shrubs with dark foliage, such as Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’, can work particularly well as a backdrop to many herbaceous perennials for a contemporary look, so consider this when planning your borders. For inspiration, here are seven of the best midsummer plant combinations.

Here are some of our favourite shrubs that look good in July.

From lacecaps to mopheads, any garden should be able to incorporate a hydrangea.

Hydrangeas

From lacecaps to mopheads, any garden should be able to incorporate a hydrangea, from the fluffy-bloomed ‘Pink Diamond’, to the ruby flowers of ‘Rotschwanz’. Grow them in alkaline soil.

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Lavender

Both the blooms and foliage of lavender have a scent that’s quite unlike anything else. Rather than buying more lavender plants, follow our guide on taking semi-ripe lavender cuttings in summer.

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Buddleia

Tough as old boots, buddleias are great plants to have in the garden. Full sun and well-drained soil is best for them to flourish, and they’ll attract numerous pollinators.

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Hebe

Fully hardy, hebe are robust evergreen shrubs, particularly suited to coastal gardens. Some cultivars, such as ‘Frozen Flame’ have dark purple foliage, while ‘Paula’ (pictured) has large purple blooms.

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Cotinus

Cotinus shrubs are commonly known as smoke bushes, due to the fluffy flower plumes that are produced in the summer months. Hard prune annually to produce large, dramatic foliage, or allow it to grow to the size of a small tree.

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More shrubs with dark foliage

  • Weigela ‘Ebony and Ivory’
  • Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum ‘Fire Dance’
  • Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’
  • Brachyglottis repanda ‘Purpurea’
  • Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’
  • Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’
  • Hydrangea aspera ‘Hot Chocolate’
  • Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’
  • Zanthoxylum piperitum purple-leaved