15 Flowering Shrubs That Will Bring Drama To Your Yard

Gardeners and homeowners alike are hard-pressed to resist a beautiful array of colors when it comes to a front or backyard garden. While a garden of white or a yard focused on greenery are both lovely options, there's just something special about those dramatic hues showing off through the spring and summer. If you love the look of boldly blooming flowers but also wish for something hardy and relatively low-maintenance, then flowering shrubs might be an ideal option. 

According to Lifescape Colorado, shrubs are an important player in a garden's ecosystem. They balance out soil pH, improve air quality, and attract bees, birds, and other critters. They can also be used to create privacy. Further, their ability to cool a yard can even save on your electricity bill as they shade your windows or tempt you to go sit in your garden instead of hanging out indoors. 

Best of all, there are dozens of shrub types, colors, and blooms to choose from. From roses to rhododendron, you can use the dramatic blooms of shrubs and small trees to create an outdoor space custom to your family's style.

1. Camellia

Camellias (Camellia spp.) are one of the most diverse flowering shrubs available. Per Clemson Cooperative Extension, there are more than 2,300 officially recognized cultivars. These shrubs bloom in the winter and spring, serving as a well-needed pop of color in gardens when many other plants have gone dormant for the cold weather months.

Bloom Season: Late fall, winter, early spring

USDA Growing Zone: 7–9

Growing Conditions: Partial sun 

Soil Type: Rich, moist but well-drained

Size: 2–12 feet tall, 2–10 feet wide

2. Moss verbena

Verbena (Verbena x hybrida) is a perennial that loves to stretch out and sprawl. It's popular in the southern United States, but has a successful growing rate throughout the country. According to Aggie Horticulture, it's also a drought-tolerant plant. This means it can be planted in the direct line of sunshine and doesn't require a lot of watering or special attention — perfect for green thumbs with busy schedules.

Bloom Season: Spring, summer, fall

USDA Growing Zone: 8–11

Growing Conditions: Full sun

Soil Type: Well-drained

Size: 9–12 inches tall, 12–18-inches wide

3. Compact heavenly bamboo

Compact heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica 'Compacta') is a smaller shrub that can be planted in containers. It's an ideal choice for those living in an apartment or other area with a small garden area. Per The Home Depot, it's disease-resistant and features uniquely autumn-colored leaves that can turn green as the plant ages.

Bloom Season: Fall and winter

USDA Growing Zone: 5-10

Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial shade

Soil Type: Well-drained

Size: 4-5 feet tall, 3 feet wide 

4. Lily of the valley bush

Lily of the valley bushes (Pieris japonica) are evergreen stunners that love to show off in the springtime. World of Flowering Plants notes their bell-shaped blooms can range from white to pink to dark burgundy. Due to its native roots, this plant is also known as the Japanese Andromeda. And while it's pretty to look at, take caution — it's toxic to both humans and animals. 

Bloom Season: Spring

USDA Growing Zone: 3–8

Growing Conditions: Shade 

Soil Type: Well-drained

Size: 6–12 inches tall, 9–12 inches wide

5. Mountain laurel

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) has a unique flower shape. Decked out in pink and white, its blooms almost look like little umbrellas. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, mountain laurel is usually a shrub, but can also grow into a small tree. They are popular on the East Coast and in Canada and are often used in public parks to add beauty and interest. 

Bloom Season: Spring

USDA Growing Zone: 4a–9a

Growing Conditions: Partial sun 

Soil Type: Well-drained and moist 

Size: 5–15 feet tall and wide

6. Forsythia

Forsythia (Forsythia spp.) is known to beat other bushes to the punch when it comes to blooming. Its bright yellow flowers are hard to miss, and it'll bring a truly dramatic burst of sunshine into your yard. According to Green Acres, they can grow happily in both containers as well as stretched out in a garden bed.

Bloom Season: Spring

USDA Growing Zone: 5-8

Growing Conditions: Shade to full sun

Soil Type: Moist but well-drained

Size: 2–10 feet tall and wide

7. Lilac

As Nature Hills notes, lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is one of the most fragrant flowers in the plant world. Lilac bushes bloom in a variety of colors, with purple being one of the most common and popular. They are also notoriously hardy — it's difficult to kill one, making them an ideal choice for beginner shrub owners.

Bloom Season: Spring

USDA Growing Zone: 3-7

Growing Conditions: Full sun

Soil Type: Moist but well-drained, loamy, sandy, clay

Size: 12-16 feet tall, 8-12 feet wide

8. Ninebark

Instead of large single blooms, ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) flowers work together in small clusters to put on quite a show between May and July each year. According to Las Pilitas Nursery, ninebark does just fine in hot weather, but can also tolerate a large amount of water. In other words, it's hard to screw up the care and feeding of a ninebark.

Bloom Season: Spring and summer 

USDA Growing Zone: 2-8

Growing Conditions: Full to partial sun 

Soil Type: Clay, loamy

Size: 3-10 feet tall, 3-8 feet wide

9. Flowering quince

Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) is, according to Britannica, an east Asian cousin to the rose. They bloom in a variety of colors from a bright, dramatic red to a more subtle peach-pink. While they're stunning as a garden plant, they also produce fruit that can be used in preserves, select liqueurs, and more. 

Bloom Season: Winter and spring 

USDA Growing Zone: 5-9

Growing Conditions: Full sun 

Soil Type: Moist, well-drained

Size: 3-10 feet tall, 3-10 feet wide

10. Catawba rhododendron

Catawba rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense) is prolific in the eastern and southern United States, and produces happy, fluffy blooms. Per the Missouri Botanical Garden, it's capable of growing into large thickets. In personal gardens, take caution — rhododendron is beautiful but susceptible to pests and diseases. However, if you have the time to care for it properly, this shrub will provide you with some beautiful cutting flowers. 

Bloom Season: Spring and summer

USDA Growing Zone: 4-8

Growing Conditions: Full or partial shade 

Soil Type: Well-drained and fertile

Size: 6-10 feet tall, 5-8 feet wide

11. Limelight hydrangea

Limelight hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) are a color-changing wonder shrub. They get their name due to their lime green color that really stands out against other flowers. Per Plant Addicts, the lime fades into a cream, pink, red, and finally burgundy as the plant ages. Limelight hydrangeas are also tough; they can survive harsh winters and bloom no matter how angry the weather is.

Bloom Season: Summer

USDA Growing Zone: 3-9

Growing Conditions: Full or partial sun

Soil Type: Well-drained

Size: 6-8 feet tall, 6-8 feet wide

12. Summersweet

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) lives up to its name. Birds, butterflies, and bees love to frequent its white flowers during the summertime, making for a sweet backyard ambiance and a healthy garden ecosystem. As Morton Arboretum explains, this shrub shows off differently for each season: green leaves in the spring, flowers in the summer, golden leaves in the fall, and seed balls in the winter. 

Bloom Season: July and August

USDA Growing Zone: 3-9

Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial shade

Soil Type: Loam, clay, sand

Size: 3-8 feet tall, 4-6 feet wide

13. Gardenia

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) shrubs are unmistakable. Their oversized white blooms and waxy green leaves are pretty to look at, but do require a certain level of care — namely a solid watering schedule. According to Fast Growing Trees, pruning and maintenance of gardenias is simple as long as you're committed to a solid watering schedule of one to two times per week. 

Bloom Season: Varies

USDA Growing Zone: 8-11

Growing Conditions: Partial shade 

Soil Type: Rich, well-drained soil

Size: 5-6 feet tall, similar spread

14. Weigela

Weigela (Weigela florida) is a deer-resistant shrub that makes it perfect for rural gardens. Per Proven Winners, they're happiest growing in plenty of sunshine and are used for a variety of purposes, from privacy walls to lining homes beautifully as they bloom beneath windowsills. They come in white, pink, and purple — all capable of creating a cheerful springtime garden.

Season: Spring to early summer

USDA Growing Zone: 4–8

Growing Conditions: Full sun

Soil Type: Moist but well-drained

Size: 6–10 feet tall, 9–12 feet wide

15. Groundcover rose

Groundcover roses (genus Rosa) are, according to Nature Hills, rose bushes that stay low to the ground and stretch their branches wide. The result is ground cover that reaches no taller than about 3 feet but is able to cover a generously sized area. Two perks of groundcover roses: They come in an array of colors and are notoriously low-maintenance.

Bloom Season: Spring, summer, fall 

USDA Growing Zone: 5-9

Growing Conditions: Full to partial sun

Soil Type: moist but well-drained

Size: 1-3 feet tall, up to 4 feet wide