Purple calycanthus flowers

Shrubs that look good in May

Discover five shrubs to grow for fantastic May flowers and foliage.

With temperatures increasing in May, many shrubs are coming into blossom and leaf. Bridging the gap between spring and summer, many of them fill the garden with heady fragrance and colourful foliage.


Some of the shrubs flowering at this time of year, such as deutzia, weigela and lilac, flower on growth made the previous year. This means they’re best pruned right after flowering, to ensure you’re not removing new growth that will bear next year’s blooms.

Also known as Carolina allspice, Calycanthus have stunning flowers that are almost a cross between magnolia and water lily.

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Discover five shrubs which look good in May, below.



Many deutzias are awash with flowers in May, including Deutzia gracilis and Deutzia pulchra. Prune them after flowering to encourage strong new growth that will flower next year.



These standout shrubs are available in a huge range of colours. Groups of mature rhododendrons look spectacular when they come into bloom in April and May.

Viburnum plicatum


An attractive shrub with interesting crinkled-looking leaves and panicles of flowers arranged in loose layers. Cultivars to grow include Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’, which has distinctly veined leaves.



Many flowering dogwoods will be coming into bloom in May. This includes the wedding cake tree (Cornus controversa), pictured, as well as other species like Cornus florida and Cornus canadensis.

Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’


Also known as Carolina allspice, Calycanthus have stunning flowers that look like a cross between magnolia and water lily blooms. Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’ has deep burgundy flowers and cinnamon-scented foliage.

Shrubs to prune in spring

Secateurs cut out