GrowingShrubsTopSummerBloomingSelections

After the rush of spring blooming shrubs comes to an end, it sometimes seems the list of options for the long, hot summer is limited. However, summer-blooming shrubs offer a diverse group of possibilities. Planted in groups, as stand-alone landscape specimens or in containers, there are beautiful blooms out there, bursting with summer color. In western states, many listed as only growing as far south as Zone 8 or 9 can actually be grown all the way into USDA Zones 10 and 11 (check with a local nursery). Here are a few of our favorites.  

 

Remember: Bloom times may vary by area. Be sure to check the The USDA Plant Hardiness Map

 

Summer’s Fragrant Bloomers

 

Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidaii) Offers a long season of spikey white, purple, lavender, blue and almost red, lightly-fragrant blooms. Compact varieties like ‘Lo & Behold’ series are more manageable.

Size: 6-8 feet high, 3-5 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones 5-9 

Tip: Does poorly in wet conditions

 

Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) Fruity scented, brownish-red or white flowers.

Size: 6-10 feet high, 6-12 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 5-9

Tip: Prefers rich, loamy soil

 

Glorybower (Clerodendrum) Several species, including ‘Harlequin Glorybower’ (C. tricotomum), have fragrant summer blooms followed by colorful fruit.

Size: 10-20 feet high and wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones vary

Tip: In colder climates, protect with winter mulch

 

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) Spikes of small, sweet-smelling white or pink flowers.

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

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 4-9

Tip: Prefers part shade and consistently moist, acidic, sandy soils

 

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) Lovely white flowers with intense aroma. Features evergreen leaves.

Size: 5-6 feet high and wide

Light Level: Part shade

Hardiness: Zones 7-10

Tip: Plant in light to moderate shade with minimal competition from tree roots

 

Lavender (Lavendula) Tall spikes of aromatic, mostly blue to purple flowers. Many species and varieties.

Size: 2-3 feet high, 2-4 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones vary by species

Tip: Flowers attract butterflies

 

Myrtle (Myrtus communis) Delicate evergreen with long-lasting, small, white flowers that are pleasantly fragrant. ‘Variegata’ has leaves edged with creamy white.

Size: 4-6 feet high, 3-5 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 8-11

Tip: Established plants have some drought tolerance

 

Mock Orange (Philadelphus) Many types with intense fragrance. Mostly white flowers from late spring into summer.

Size: 4-10 feet high and wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 6-9

Tip: Each flower resembles the shape of an orange blossom, hence its name

 

Swamp Azalea (Rhodendron viscosum) Fragrant white to pink flowers spring into summer.

Size: 3-5 feet high and wide

Light Level: Part shade

Hardiness: Zones 4-9

Tip: Tolerant of wet soils and somewhat poor drainage

 

Boomerang Reblooming Lilac (Syringa) in shades of purple and pink, with a great scent.

Size: 3-4 feet high and wide

Light Level: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones 3-7

Tip: Good tolerance for urban conditions

 

 

Summer Flowers And Attractive Foliage

 

Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) Clusters of blue flowers and silvery foliage. Late summer bloom.

Size: 2-4 feet high and wide

Light Level: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones 6-9

Tip: Stems will often die to the ground in Zones 5 and 6

 

Smoke Tree (Cotinus coggygria) Whispy, purple blooms. Royal Purple and Velvet Smoke have purple foliage. Good fall color.

Size: 10-15 feet high and wide

Light Level: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones 5-8

Tip: Sharp drainage is essential for healthy growth

 

Hydrangea (Hydrangea) Many wonderful types to choose from, including long-blooming Endless Summer and varieties with eye-catching variegated foliage.

Size: 6-10 feet high and wide

Light Level: Part sun to full shade

Hardiness: Zones vary by species

Tip: Soil pH affects the flower color, in highly acidic soils, flowers are bluer, in alkaline soils, flowers are pinker

 

 

Shrubs Of Many Colors

 

Rockrose (Cistus) Large group of drought-tolerant, colorful shrubs. Evergreen shrubs with many shades of blooms from late spring to summer.

Size: Varies from 1-2 feet to 4-6 high and up to 6-8 wide

Light Level: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones 8-9

Tip: Drought and salt tolerant

 

Tropical Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) Mild-winter classic with large, showy blooms in shades of white, yellow, orange and red. Can be grown indoors in winter.

Size: 4-10 feet high, 5-8 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 9-11

Tip: Grows large 4-8 inch flowers

 

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) Large choice of single or double flowers in many shades of white, pink, purple and nearly blue.

Size: 8-12 feet high, 6-10 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 5-11

Tip: Tolerant of heat, humidity and urban conditions

 

Oleander (Nerium oleander) Long bloom in every possible shade of white, pink, red, yellow and purple. Tough, drought tolerant.

Size: 4-8 feet high, 4-5 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 8-11

Tip: All parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested, smoke from burning plant material can also be quite toxic

 

 

Long-Bloomers

 

Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) Versatile evergreen with clusters of small white to pink flowers all summer long. Some varieties, such as Kaleidoscope and Confetti have variegated leaves.

Size: 3-6 feet high and wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 6-9

Tip: Best sited in protected areas in colder climates, stem damage can occur when temperatures approach 0ºF.

 

Yesterday-Today-And-Tomorrow (Brunfelsia pauciflora) Constantly-changing spring to summer flowers, that start out violet and fade to white over 3 days. Can be grown indoors.

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

Light Level: Part sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 9-11

Tip: Blooms in spring and intermittently throughout summer

 

Chinese Indigo (Indigofera decora) Long clusters of pink flowers spring into late summer. Attractive, ferny foliage. Indigo dye comes from this plant.

Size: 1-2.5 feet high, 4-6 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones 6-9

Tip: Afternoon shade may help leaves from bleaching

 

Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) Shrubby types come in bright shades of white, pink, red and purple. Some varieties, like Delta Jazz, have purplish new growth. Good fall color.

Size: 6-25 feet high,6-20 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones 6-9

Tip: This plant benefits from a slow-release fertilizer

 

Tree Mallow (Lavatera) Hollyhock-like flowers, mostly in shades of pink.

Size: 3-6 feet high, 2-6 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones vary by species

Tip: In general, this plant dislikes hot, humid summers

 

Cinquefoil (Potentilla) Adaptable shrub with extended bloom of white to yellow and almost red flowers.

Size: 2-4 feet high, 3-5 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 3-7

Tip: Excellent winter hardiness and good drought tolerance

 

Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) Showy clusters of blue or white flowers appear all year in mild winter climates. Sprawling, can be grown as a vine.

Size: 1-3 feet high and wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 9-11

Tip: Site in locations protected from strong winds

 

Summer Snowflake (Viburnum plicatum tomentosum) White flower clusters all summer, followed by red berries and good fall color.

Size: 5-8 feet high, 8-10 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 5-8

Tip: Grows best with consistent, even moisture

 

 

Plus A Few More Favorites

 

Cape Mallow (Anisodontea x hypomadara) Dry summer favorite, with small hollyhock flowers in shades of purple and pink, often veined in darker colors.

Size: 4-5 feet high, 3-4 feet wide

Light Level: Full shade to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 8-11

Tip: Prune as needed to produce a bushier plant

 

Shiny Sumac (Rhus copallina) Tall, spreading shrub with feathery spikes of yellow flowers. Bright fall color. ‘Prairie Flame’ is compact is flaming orange to red fall color.

Size: 7-15 feet high, 10-20 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun to part shade

Hardiness: Zones 5-10

Tip: Aggressive grower that’s perfect for informal, naturalized areas

 

Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica) Flowers in shades of white pink and red. Some varieties with colorful leaves and good fall color.

Size: 1.5-6 feet high and wide

Light Level: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones 4-8

Tip: Aggressive self-seeder will also spread by suckering

 

Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) Long spikes of lightly-fragrant, purple to dark blue blooms. Tall, tough shrub with good drought tolerance.

Size: 8-10 feet high, 5-8 feet wide

Light Level: Full sun

Hardiness: Zones 6-9

Tip: In colder climates, plant may die back to ground in winter, then push up 4-7 feet of new growth the following year.

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