The 18 Best Flowering Shrubs for Colorful Landscapes, by Season

Enjoy colorful blooms from spring into winter by planting a few of these gorgeous shrubs.

With a little planning, and the right combination of hard-working shrubs, you can have something flowering in your yard almost all year long. The key is to select varieties that bloom in different seasons, so they act a bit like relay runners passing the baton from month to month. Use these plants to dress up the foundations of your home, screen undesirable views, or simply as focal points in the landscape. Some shrubs set fruit after flowering, which can be visually appealing, as well as providing a food source for birds and other wildlife. And several varieties also offer vibrant fall colors or interesting bark.

Spring-Flowering Shrubs

Start the season with a beautiful display of spring-flowering shrubs. There are many varieties available, blooming in different colors and sizes. Find which shrubs will look best in your garden.

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Azalea Herbert
Bob Stefko

Azaleas provide a wide array of choices for landscapes. These flowering shrubs appear in nearly any color, can be evergreen or deciduous, and are available in a wide range of sizes. Most azaleas bloom best when planted in part shade, in rich, well-drained, acidic soil. This variety, called 'Jane Abbott,' is a bright pink flowering shrub that's sure to brighten your landscape.

Zones: 4–10, depending on type

Buy It: Encore Azalea ($45, Lowe's)

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Spiraea prunifolia 'Bridal Wreath' with tiny white flowers
Bill Stites

Spirea comes in many colors, but the dainty white blooms of 'Bridal Wreath' are breathtaking. When the tiny bunches of white flowers drip profusely from 'Bridal Wreath' spirea, it conjures up pleasant images of wedding finery. It typically blooms before or as it leafs out, welcoming the spring season. 'Bridal Wreath' spirea does best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. The easy-growing shrub grows up to six feet tall.

Zones: 5–9

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Camellia japonica 'Alexander Hunter' with red blooms
Rob Cardillo

Northerners often get a case of zone envy when they see a camellias' glossy, evergreen leaves and stunning roselike flowers in shades of pink, white, or red. Depending on the type of camellia chosen, it may bloom in spring, fall, or late winter. Sizes vary, depending on the variety, and can grow up to 20 feet tall and wide.

Zones: 6–9

Buy It: Pink Camellia ($23, Lowe's)

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Slender deutzia
Marty Baldwin

Tiny but powerful white or pink blossoms of deutzia light up the spring. This lesser-known shrub reaches two to 10 feet tall, depending on the variety. You'll plant it for spring blooms, but will be thrilled by its red fall color. For extra show, look for the variety 'Duncan' (Chardonnay Pearls), which features chartreuse foliage all spring and summer.

Zones: 5–8

Buy It: Yuki Cherry Blossom ($40, The Home Depot)

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forsythia single branch of spring flowering shrub
David Speer

Like spotting the first robin, seeing bright yellow forsythia flowers is a sure sign of spring. After blooming, this shrub seems to blend into the background until the leaves shift to a purple color in fall. It does best in full sun and reaches up to 15 feet tall.

Zones: 4–9

Buy It: Forsythia ($25, Etsy)

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Beaver Creek Fothergilla gardenii
Rob Cardillo

Easy-going fothergilla charms in spring with tiny white bottlebrush blooms, but also amazes in fall, with its brilliant red foliage. This tough North American native grows in a variety of sizes from three to eight feet tall and wide.

Zones: 5–9

Buy It: Fothergilla Gardenii ($19, Bluestone Perennials)

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Lilac Syringa ‘Virtual Violet’
Jacob Fox

If spring has a scent, it's lilac, at least in the north. Long-lived lilacs come in white, pink, blue, purple, and almost red. With so many species and cultivars on the market, there's a size available from small flowering shrubs of three feet to 30 feet tall.

Zones: 2–9

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Ninebark Physocarpus
David Speer

If you don't know ninebark, you've been missing out. This easily grown North American native offers white flowers in spring or early summer, but you'll want to grow one of the newer cultivars with burgundy, golden, or copper foliage. Left unchecked, it can grow 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide, but you can keep it smaller with a little pruning.

Zones: 3–7

Buy It: Fireside Ninebark Shrub ($40, The Home Depot)

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Korean Spice Viburnum
Jerry Pavia

For a knock-your-socks-off sweet scent and a habit that's super-easy to grow, try one of the many types of viburnum, such as Korean spice. Most offer fall color in the cool climates and berries that attract wildlife. Best garden varieties grow four to15 feet tall, depending on type.

Zones: 2–9

Buy It: White Flowering Summer Snowflake Viburnum Flowering Shrub ($35, Lowe's)

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weigela blooms with green and yellow leaves
Mark Kane

This old-fashioned shrub has attracted new fans in recent years with the development of varieties that offer unusual leaf colors or variegation. Trumpet-shape spring blooms (usually in a shade of pink, white, or red) just add to the excitement of weigela. The shrubs reach six to nine feet tall.

Zones: 4–9

Buy It: Wine and Roses Weigela Shrub ($45, The Home Depot)

Summer-Flowering Shrubs

Add shrubs to your summer color show as a backdrop to perennials and annuals. Many of these summer shrubs have blooms all season long. There's one for every garden, you just need to know what to look for.

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Carolina Allspice

calycanthus floridus carolina allspice orange flower shrub
Marty Baldwin

Carolina allspice is all about fragrance. Its dark red flowers have been described as containing overtones of pineapple, strawberry, and banana, and the leaves, which offer yellow fall color, smell like cloves. It reaches up to eight feet tall.

Zones: 5–9

Buy It: Carolina Allspice Plants ($12, Etsy)

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snowball hydrangea
Matthew Benson

There are so many kinds of hydrangeas, you'll want them all. The bigleaf (H. macrophylla) types grow with the big pink, white, or blue mopheads in part shade. The smooth types (H. arborescens, also generically called 'Annabelle,' after its most famous member) grow vigorously in almost any condition. The cold-hardiest of them all, panicle hydrangeas (H. paniculata) prefer full sun. All produce sets of blooms that dry beautifully on the stem or in a vase for winter enjoyment. Sizes and hardiness vary by type and cultivar.

Buy It: Annabelle Hydrangea ($43, Home Depot)

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Smoke Tree

Cotinus coggygria Smoke Tree flowering shrub
Denny Schrock

This pretty plant grows either as a multistem shrub or a single-stem tree. Burgundy, green, or gold foliage lights the smoke tree with fall color, and the effervescent pink bloom clusters turn a smoky tan in fall. It grows 15 feet tall and wide.

Zones: 5–8

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Virginia Sweetspire

Virginia Sweetspire small white flowers shrub
Denny Schrock

While Virginia sweetspire offers white flowers in summer, you'll love its luscious red-purple fall color. The compact stature, up to four feet, fits well into most gardens, but keep an eye on its spreading habit if you want to confine it to a certain space. This native plant will do best in part shade.

Zones: 6-9

Buy It: Scentlandia Sweetspire ($21, The Home Depot)

Fall-Flowering Shrubs

Actual flowering slows down in shrubs during summer, but many flash brilliant fall colors to make up for any lack of blooms. These are some of the best fall shrubs for color and texture as the growing season winds down.

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Caryopteris 'MinBleu' bluebeard
Dean Schoeppner

Add bluebeard (sometimes called blue mist spirea) wherever you want a refreshing punch of blue in the late summer to early fall. You can find varieties with variegated, golden, or chartreuse foliage, as well as pink flowers. Most grow three feet tall and wide.

Zones: 4–8

Buy It: Beyond Midnight Bluebeard ($19, The Home Depot)

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Summersweet Clethra alnifolia
Robert Cardillo

With a name like this, you know the flower is going to smell good. Pink or white blooms appear in late summer, and the outstanding fall foliage turns orange, red, and yellow. Summersweet grows up to eight feet tall and wide.

Zones: 3–9

Winter-Flowering Shrubs

Few shrubs add winter color from blooms (though many can be depended on for bright berries). Still, there are options out there with colorful seed pods, berries, and blooms. Here are two of the best.

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Grape Holly

Grape holly Mahonia aquifolium
Cynthia Haynes

Bearing clusters of fragrant pale yellow flowers at the very end of winter into early spring, grape hollies (which aren't at all related to grapes or hollies) are evergreen shrubs that have holly-like, glossy green foliage that adds interest, even when there's snow on the ground. The blooms are followed by bluish berries that vaguely resemble grapes. These plants can reach 10 feet tall and five feet wide, and they prefer moist, well-drained soil in full to part shade.

Zones: 6–9

Buy It: Oregon Grape ($58, Etsy)

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Witch Hazel

Common witch hazel
Marty Baldwin

Witch hazel bridges winter and spring with bright yellow to orange, fragrant flowers. It's such a welcome sight that you forgive its fleeting nature, especially when it produces yellow fall foliage. Shrubs grow up to 12 feet tall and wide.

Zones: 3–9

Buy It: Witch Hazel Seeds ($3, Etsy)

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