Shrubs Introduction

mixed shrub borderShrubs are typically defined as a woody plant arising from multiple stems at the base.  They are typically smaller than trees (under 20 feet (6.09 m)) although many trees can be classified as shrubs depending on where they grow and how they are cultivated.  Shrubs are typically broadleaf although some smaller conifers are classified as shrubs.  They can be deciduous or evergreen; some provide flowers and fruit, while others provide seasonal interest with colorful leaves, berries, or bark.  Landscapers often consider shrubs the backbone of the garden: their permanent structure provides visual interest in the winter, helps to define spaces, and creates screens for unsightly elements in the landscape.

Although many landscapes support a wide variety of cultivated shrubs there are innumerable shrubs available that are adapted to dry, difficult climates. These plants survive on native conditions often without supplemental irrigation or other cultural adaptations.  Shrubs that are adapted to the regions where they are grown provide excellent sources of food, shelter, and nesting sites for wildlife.

The following are some examples of shrubs and the area(s) to which they are suited.  Shrubs grown in these areas will typically grow under natural conditions with little or no supplemental irrigation – if grown outside these areas they may require significant amounts of water, fertilizer or other cultural adaptations to thrive or survive. 

Southeast Regionshrub - India Hawthorn

  • Flowering Quince
  • Forsythia
  • Witch Hazel
  • Scotch Broom
  • Oakleaf hydrangea

New England

  • Cranberry Bush
  • Witch Hazel
  • Serviceberry
  • Canada Yew

Southwestshrub - Apache Plume

  • Apache Plume
  • Mormon Tea
  • Santonlina
  • Rabbitbrush
  • Three-leaf Sumac

Rocky Mountains

  • Pea shrub
  • Fernbush
  • Rabbitbrush
  • Three-leaf sumac
  • Mormon Tea

Californiashrub - Butterfly Bush

  • Butterfly bush
  • Acacia
  • Rosemary
  • Mahonia
  • Lavender
  • Firethorn

Pacific Northwest

  • Mock orange
  • Witch hazel
  • Golden currant
  • Boxwood
  • Privet
  • Shrubby honeysuckle

While this list is by no means complete nor does it represent all regions in the U.S. it shows the widely varied choices available for any landscape.  The above list provides examples of shrubs that are fragrant, that flower, and fruit.  There are shrubs that are evergreen and shrubs that are deciduous, large shrubs and small shrubs; in short there are shrubs for every niche in the landscape.