Search for 99 types of shrubs and learn about sun needs, water requirements, soil pH, hardiness zones and so much more. Your ultimate shrub database.
Welcome to our types of shrubs database where we list many varieties of shrubs.
Below you can scroll through 99 different types of shrubs. Each listing includes an image and key growing information below in a table.
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Types of Shrubs
Gardening can be a lot of fun. It is relaxing and rewarding and will bring hours of enjoyment while actively gardening and when you are all done and can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
When designing a garden one of the most overlooked aspects is the shrubs. You will always plan for the flowers or the produce, but rarely do we consider the shrubbery.
1. What is a Shrub?
When you first think of a shrub, you probably imagine a little green bush that sits under someone’s front window or a little tree that has been shaped and manicured.
While these are shrubs, there is a whole world of shrubs that we don’t think about. A shrub, by definition, is a small or medium-sized woody plant. They have multiple wood shoots above the ground, unlike herbs.
You may know a shrub by its other name: bush. Bushes and shrubs are (but not always) green year round and are very hardy. They share a lot of characteristics with trees, although they are shorter and most will flower at some point during the year.
2. Designing Your Garden
Before you go outside and start making a hole in the ground for a shrub, you need to create your garden carefully.
You probably won’t have a garden of only shrubs, although this is easily possible with excellent results.
You need to consider a lot of different factors when adding shrubs to your garden. The size of your garden is paramount as shrubs, unlike perennials and annuals, will take up a lot of physical space. They will also use a lot of the nutrients in the soil, which, if not adequately planned for, can be detrimental to nearby plants and flowers.
A. Garden Size
In general, the size of your garden is the most crucial element in your design. Small gardens may not be able to utilize a lot of shrubberies.
Because of the nature of shrubs, smaller gardens tend to dismiss them. However, with different species and the protection they provide from erosion and wind or rain damage, you are urged to take a second look at placing shrubs in your garden.
Many varieties of shrubbery can be used indoors. Hanging pots or windowsill boxes make perfect homes for indoor shrubs. Shrubs have a lot of shoots which produce many leaves and flowers. These will contribute to the overall air quality of the room and make excellent plants for decoration that require little maintenance.
When planning your garden design, knowing the type and location of the shrubbery will help make things a lot easier for you. Understanding the specific purpose of the shrub will also help your design plans.
B. Indoor Gardens
Using shrubs indoors may seem like a crazy idea. However, shrubs like aloe vera or ficus make great additions to the indoor environment.
Pots can be used to spread the shrubs around the home and to decorate with live plants is never a bad idea. However, because the plant is inside, it will not get as much sun or natural watering that an outdoor shrub will.
Because of this you will need to monitor your shrub closely and maintain the moisture in the soil and not allow the pot to cause the bush to get root-bound.
You will have to place the shrub in a pot large enough to encourage growth and transplant to a more significant pot if the need arises.
The lifespan of indoor shrubs can be many years, so it is imperative that you understand the proper maintenance of having a live plant indoors.
C. Outdoor Gardens
When using shrubbery outside, you have more room to decorate with. There are many general applications for shrubs outdoors. One common use is to place bushes along the front of the house giving off a nice aesthetic appeal as well as protecting the home from soil erosion.
You can also use the shrubbery as a fence between neighboring lawns or walkways. You may even decide to plant shrubs to line a sidewalk or driveway. The options are as near limitless as there are varieties of shrubs.
When planting shrubs outside you must be aware of the soil they are being planted in. If the earth isn’t able to maintain enough water and nutrients to sustain the shrubbery, you may need to till in fresh soil, add fertilizer or water more often.
Once an outdoor shrub takes root and grows, though, it is very hardy and should do just fine on its own. You should always be aware of freezing temperatures, though, and cover the shrubs if the species isn’t designed for colder weather.
D. Raised Beds
If the soil isn’t optimal for maintaining shrubbery, you may want to consider a raised bed. These are areas in your garden that you have added extra earth or soil too, which will give a deeper base for the plant to take root.
This isn’t always the best option, however, as the raised bed may not be strong enough to hold the weight of the shrub. If high winds or just the top weight of the shrub knocks it over, it may break roots and could die.
3. When To Plant Shrubs
Certain times of year are better for planting shrubs than others. Many factors will dictate when it is optimal to plant in your area. You should know the zone you are in. Each section, based on temperature, is placed in a zone.
These zones determine when it is best to plant shrubs. You can find your zone on the back of most seed packets. You can also ask your florist or local garden center which zone you are in.
If you plant your shrubs during the wrong season the chances of survival diminish. To help the shrub take root and be protected, you should plant when the time is best for the particular zone and shrub.
A. Fall Planting
You may get the urge to plant as soon as it feels warm enough for you to get outside and start making holes in the ground. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you need to wait to start your planting after the temperature has begun to get cooler.
When in doubt about the best time for your shrub, it is always best to ask your garden center for advice. The fall is a great time to plant though.
Early fall is one of the best times for shrubs and trees. This will allow the shrub to establish a root system over the winter and come to full bloom in the spring. Waiting until later in the spring is okay for a lot of shrubs, too, as long as the ground hasn’t had its first freeze and the ground is still workable.
If you wait too long, the shrub may not stay warm long enough to take root and could die before the winter is out.
If you are planting from seed or bulb, ensure that the shrub is cold weather tolerant. If it is not, or if you are planting a sapling, you may need to cover the area with a sheet or garden cover to prevent the cold from killing the plant.
B. Winter Planting
Winter is never a good time for much gardening. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.
If you are making use of pots and planting indoors, the season doesn’t matter as much. You can plant or transplant saplings anytime as long as the temperature inside is conducive to the plant species.
If you plant indoors over the winter, you need to ensure that the shrub has enough water and sunlight as possible. Knowing the details of how much sunlight, as well as planting the shrubbery in a pot that you can transport will help ensure the longevity of the plant over the colder months.
C. Spring Planting
When spring rolls around and the sun warms everything up is when most of our minds turn to actual gardening. However, before rushing outside on the first warm sunny day and digging numerous holes to fill with shrubs, you need to be aware of your areas freeze date.
A freeze date is a date that the average final freeze in your area occurs. This will vary based on location, but in general, the final freeze is a date that will tell you when optimal springtime planting can occur.
In the early spring, you can safely plant dormant shrubs. Dormant means they are not actively sprouting shoots or leaves. If your shrub is not dormant and it is before your locations freeze date, the shrub may die.
In late spring, after the freeze date, you can plant non-dormant shrubs or shrubs that have to begin to sprout leaves. If it is before the freeze date you can plant sprouting shrubs but only those that were grown outside. Interior grown shrubs and new shrubs should not be planted until after the freeze date has passed.
As long as the freeze date has come and gone and the soil is workable, you can plant any shrub you like. While the fall is better, springtime will work just as well. Workable soil means that it isn’t too wet and will crumble in your hand instead of packing down.
D. Summer Planting
Planting in the summer months can be done as well. However, you may need to tend to the shrubs more often than when planting in the spring or fall.
Because of the heat of the summer months, there may not be enough water in the soil to sustain the shrubbery. Maintaining enough water to keep the plant alive is crucial. Until the shrub has established a good root system and has begun to sprout green, healthy leaves, you should monitor the moisture in the soil regularly.
4. Types of Shrubs
The number of species of shrubs is as numerous as it can get. You will have your pick of variety regardless of where you live or your climate.
Different shrubs serve different purposes and can be used for anything from a food source to purely decoration.
A. Edible Shrubs
Many shrubs will produce fruit that you can eat. Growing these shrubs is rewarding because you can harvest the shrub and enjoy your rake.
Not only will budding gardeners enjoy the benefits of growing edible shrubs, but chefs and friends will as well.
Our favorite shrubs that produce edible items are:
- American Hazelnut
- Wild Raisin
- Pasture Rose
B. Decorative Shrubs
Many varieties of shrubs will add to the decorative factor of your garden or your home. You can plant decorative shrubs to create a living fence, or as a backdrop to a floral garden. You can also get shrubs that maintain trimming poses and make lawn art with their designs.
Our favorite decorative shrubs are:
- Japanese Maple
- Common Ivy
- Paper Plant
C. Useful Shrubs
Some shrubs have a purpose other than being fun to plant and nice to look at. Stems, leaves, and flowers can all be used for alternative purposes such as medicine or treatments.
Our favorite useful shrubs include:
- Aloe Vera
- Flowering Oregano
Regardless of the purpose, the use or the decoration, adding shrubs to your garden design is sure to delight any gardener. As a hardy plant, they will withstand most things flowers and garden plants will not.
You can view our shrub galleries to gain some inspiration and design ideas. You can also use our garden design software to help you plan the perfect garden for your home.
Indoors, outdoors or in a planter on the porch, your garden will come to life and with shrubs, give you years of aesthetic enjoyment.
Be sure to also check out our entire garden directory where you’ll find a lot more plant and flower entries as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to common questions about shrubs.
Are shrubs evergreen?
Some shrubs are evergreen. If a shrub retains its leaves year-round, then it is considered evergreen. They are great for providing privacy and adornment in many garden and yard settings. Shrubs that shed their leaves annually are deciduous.
Although lacking leaves at certain times of the year, they remain colorful additions to gardens and yards, like the Westonbirt Dogwood whose stems are red year-round.
Are shrubs perennials?
Most shrubs are perennials because they do not die after one year but continue to grow for years. Annuals can work well in the right context. Some gardeners and farmers in flood areas prefer annual shrubs and other plants because they don’t lose much if a flood takes out their landscape. Most planting of shrubs, however, involves perennials.
Are shrubs trees? If not, how are shrubs different from trees?
Shrubs are not trees. One difference between the two is that shrubs have many different stems while trees have one trunk. There are exceptions, however. Some trees do indeed have multiple trunks, such as the Japanese maple, and some shrubs can become trees.
Then there’s the informal classification of plants called “trubs,” which is a plant that could be both. It grows bushy like a shrub yet tall like a tree. A little bit of training could make turn a trub into either a plant or a shrub.
Are shrubs annuals?
Most shrubs are not annuals. Annual plants have a one-year lifecycle while most shrubs, which are principally perennials, live multiple years. Few annual shrubs exist and are usually fast-growing due to their limited lifecycle. They are great for those who like to replant parts or all of their garden or property yearly.
Can shrubs be transplanted?
If done correctly and with care, transplanting shrubs can be carried out without any problems. The following are some steps to take to protect the plant and prevent it from going into shock or dying during and after transplanting.
Don’t rush the job. Patience is vital when transplanting anything.
Trim the shrub beforehand so it will be manageable while being moved.
Know where the shrub’s roots are and dig around them.
Disturb the roots as little as possible.
Maintain the dirt clumping around the roots. Don’t pull it or shake it off.
Dig a hole big enough to receive the new shrub. It must be bigger than the plant’s clump of dirt and roots.
Don’t neglect the new transplant. Shrubs require more attention than usual in the first few weeks after being transplanted.
Can shrubs grow in pots?
Shrubs grow well in pots provided they are in the appropriate receptacle. If a container is too small for a shrub, its root base will not have room to grow, and it will be small.
Can shrubs be cut back or pruned?
Cutting or pruning shrubs is a recommended way to make them grow into bushes. It also helps keep them clean and maintained. Pruning them at the right time is also crucial for the shrub’s future growth.
For example, pruning of shrubs that flower in the spring should occur shrubs that flower after flowering. The cuts will produce new growth over the year, and plenty of flowers will appear the next spring.
Having the proper tools and knowledge is also essential when pruning shrubs. Pruning shears and hedge shears can handle most jobs, but some thicker plants may require a pruning saw.
Can shrubs come back to life?
Shrubs can come back from near death. With the proper pruning and care, a near-dead shrub can become a vibrant bush again. It will take some work, though and possibly a lot of time depending on the state of the shrub.
The soil may be an excellent first place to start. The shrub could be suffering from a severe lack of nutrients or a lack of water. The inverse could also be true. If the soil is continually wet, then the hedge may have root rot. Other possible reasons for the shrub’s demise may be insects, animals, heat, and age.
Can shrubs grow into trees?
Yes. Pruning and training a shrub while it is young is the best way to make a shrub grow into a tree because it will have fewer stems at this stage in its life. When transforming a shrub into a tree, most gardeners will remove all of the stems except for a vertical one which will become the trunk. Depending on the shrub, it may be more appropriate to have more than one future trunk. It may take a few years before the shrub looks like an actual tree, but the time waited is worth it.
How are shrubs different from herbs?
Shrubs are woody plants while herbs are not, and herbs generally have one stem while shrubs have multiple. Also, many herbs are annuals and die after one year. Shrubs are usually perennials and thus grow larger than herbs. Some shrubs have scents, but herbs generally have strong aromas and are used more by humans in medical and culinary applications than are shrubs.
There are some perennial herbs, such as oregano, rosemary, and sage. These plants, often cultivated for their culinary value, can turn into shrubs when unmaintained. Just like shrubs, these perennial herbs will eventually have wooden stems.
How many shrubs can grow in one square meter?
It depends on the shrubs and their purpose. Some shrubs will need at least one square meter to grow because they have large spreads. In essence, the smaller the spread on a shrub, the more you can fit in one square meter.
Where do shrubs grow?
Shrubs can grow well in many different situations. Some of them can survive in a variety of lighting conditions as well as climates. These types of shrubs tend to be the most popular because they can work almost anywhere.
Some shrubs are a little more particular about where they grow compared to others. They have specific climate, soil, or lighting needs that are essential for them to thrive. Any variance from the ideal conditions makes them weak. For the most part, shrubs tend to be hearty plants that can survive and thrive in many different situations.
Why do shrubs turn yellow?
Shrubs turn yellow for a few different reasons. One is overwatering. Too much h2o in the roots will impede them from taking in oxygen. This lack of oxygen is what often causes the color change.
A lack of nutrients will also cause shrubs to turn yellow. Nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron are important nutrients for shrubs. The yellowing could be a sign that one or more of them are missing from the plant’s intake.
Why do shrubs turn brown?
It depends. If the tips of the leaves are brown and nothing else, then the problem could be due to overwatering. When more than just the tips are brown, the problem is more serious. There could be a serious nutrient intake problem.
If this isn’t the case, then pests may be the culprit. Insects and animals can wreak havoc on shrubs.
Will shrubs grow in sandy soil?
Some shrubs can. In general, sandy soil is void of nutrients and needs amendments. The shrubs that need high-nutrient soil won’t do so well in sandy soil. However, there are a few that thrive under these conditions.
Some examples are the Blue Brush, the Common Broom, and Cyprus Sunrose. They grow well in sandy soil and love and need as much sunlight as they can get. Hardiness Zones between 8a-10b are perfect for them.
Will shrubs grow in rocky soil?
Yes, some will. Shrubs are often the choice for difficult rocky terrains. Not all of them will thrive under these conditions, however. Shrubs that like the upper-numbered Zones (8a-10b) with lots of direct sunlight, and are drought tolerant do fine in the rockier soils.
The buckwheat shrub is an excellent example of a shrub that tolerates and even thrives in rocky soils. It produces a beautiful white flower and works well for erosion control. Many evergreen shrubs can also thrive in rocky soils, such as the Feelin’ Sunny Deodar Cedar which grows well on dry and rocky terrains.
Will shrubs grow in clay soil?
Many shrubs will. The main problem with clay is its lack of drainage. If soil is too dense with clay, and water never drains, then the roots of many shrubs may rot out. However, clay soils are full of plant food, which makes plants thrive.
Gardeners with clay soils have to do more work than those gardeners that work with sandier and lighter soils. Working with clay soil requires constant vigilance to prevent it from retaining too much water. However, the pay off is often healthier-looking shrubs thanks to clay soil’s high nutrient concentration.
Will shrubs grow in containers?
Many shrubs do well in containers. The trick is knowing which shrubs are the fast growers. Fast-growing shrubs will outgrow their containers and require multiple replantings. They do better in the ground. Slower growing shrubs such as Boxwood and Holly are much easier to maintain in containers, and they grow well in them.