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Types of Shrubs for Sale - Buying & Growing Guide

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Types of Shrubs – Buying & Growing Guide

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by John Haryasz | Horticulture Writer and Landscape Designer – last update on December 2, 2021

Shrubs are an essential element in any landscape design. These woody plants can be large or small, deciduous or evergreen, and often show noteworthy flowers and leaves. Along with coming in a diverse array of attractive options, shrubs also play a vital role in giving shape to garden spaces.

Types of Shrubs for Your Landscape

Type  Growing Zones Mature Height Sun Features
Azalea, Rhododendron 5-9 8-20 feet Partial shade: 3-4 hours Broad-leaved evergreen with excellent spring flowers
Forsythia, Forsythia x intermedia  5-8 8-10 feet Full sun: 6-8 hours Bright yellow, early spring flower, fast-growing 
Rosebay rhododendron, Rhododendron maximum


3-7 5-15 feet Part shade to full shade: 4 hours or less Large flowers and broad, oval-shaped leaves
Red twig dogwood, Cornus sericea 3-8 6-9 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-6 hours Bright red stems strike a contrast, especially in winter
Inkberry, Ilex glabra 4-9 5-8 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-6 hours Evergreen oval leaves, dark berry-like fruit
Witchhazel, Hamamelis virginiana 5-8 15-25 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-6 hours Spider-like flowers that bloom long into cold months
American arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis 2-7 20-40 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours Reliable foliage year-round and excellent cold hardiness
Lilac, Syringa vulgaris 3-7 12-15 feet Full sun: 6-8 hours Prominent lavender flower clusters with excellent fragrance 
Oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia 5-9 5-7 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours Unique leaf shape, large flower panicles, decent fall color
Arrowwood viburnum, Viburnum dentatum 2-8 8-12 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-6 hours Stark white flowers, nearly vertical stems produce upright shape

How to Plant Shrubs

Planting woody plants, whether shrubs or trees, starts with digging a suitable planting hole. That hole should double the root ball’s width while matching its depth to the root ball’s height. The location of the hole matters as well. 

Aim to plant a shrub in a place where it will receive its ideal degree of sun exposure and where the soil has the acidity and drainage qualities that the species prefers. Provide fertilizer and water in accordance with the species’ distinct needs. 

After placing your shrub in your planting hole and backfilling with high-quality soil, cover the area with mulch. The mulch layer should be a few inches thick and be composed of organic material such as tree bark or wood chips. Finally, you should prune your shrub. Pruning at this stage will give your new plant the greatest chance to thrive from the start. 

Tips for Pruning Shrubs

In the majority of cases, your shrub pruning should involve using loppers or hand pruners to remove entire branches and stems. The parts of the shrub you should remove are those that are either dead, broken, damaged, or crossing one another. Follow the branch you are removing until you reach the point where it connects to a larger branch. That is where you will make a clean pruning cut. 

There are other pruning techniques you can use that are specific to certain varieties of shrubs. For instance, some evergreen shrubs will respond well when you shear or trim the exterior layers of foliage. There are also pruning methods you can use to increase the blooms of your flowering shrubs. Often, this involves removing spent flowers. But as always, you should seek to understand the individual pruning needs of each plant you own.