Easy to Grow and Care Shrubs

Mike LarkinNovember 15, 2008

I am in zone 6 but please respond with any shrub. I would like to make a list of gardeners' favorite , easy to care for shrubs. No fuss.


Mine are

Chamaecyparis obtusa Nana - Dwarf Hinoki Cypress - Grows slow, requires little or no pruning, and tolerates most soils except clay. Full sun or part sun.

Itea Little Henry - Itea - Grows in sun but also likes a little shade. Nice spring flowers , great fall color, Likes damp soil, but once established will grow in most conditions. I can prune easily with hand pruners every few years - Stays about 3 x 3ft.

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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Clethra alnifolia, like Itea, is another native, with selected cultivars - scented, summer flowering, generally gets a bit taller than most Iteas. Like Itea, it will sucker a bit, but is easy to control, or let get wider and wider. Fothergilla gardenii or F. major are 2 other natives, with spring flowers.

Other nice, attractive natives include Cotinus obovatus, Smoke tree although maybe more a tree than a shrub; Highbush blueberry, Vaccinum corymbosum, you get flowers, fruit and goodfall color; Calycanthus floridus, eastern sweetshrub, with variable scented flowers, so better to pick one in flower or a selected cultivar if you want scent; Blackhaw, Viburnum prunifolium as well as V. opulus var. americanum, Highbush cranberry; Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, although you need male AND female plants for berries; Cornus sericea, Red osier dogwood, although for the best color, you do need to periodically cut it to the ground (as well as other, smaller dogwoods); Oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia; American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana.

Among the non-natives I like are forsythia, lilacs, camellias, yew (as long as deer aren't a problem), and azaleas. The various evergreen hollies are also good, and I do like boxwood left to grow as it pleases.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 6:03PM
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Viburnums are one of my favorite groups of shrubs. I particularly like the native ones - especially Mapleleaf viburnum (V. acerifolium) and Viburnum nudum. Both have outstanding foliage and very nice fall color (in addition to nice flowers and fruit for the birds). Both are very carefree - mapleleaf is tolerant of dry shade and V. nudum can handle wet situations; both do fine in regular garden soil as well.

For non-native shrubs, the new Abelia cultivars 'Rose Creek' and 'Canyon Creek' are very nice.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 8:58PM
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Fothergilla for its ease of care and multi-season interest.

Doublefile viburnums, Loropetalum, and Sinocalycanthus chinensis also have alot of nice attributes to recommend them.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 11:23AM
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Mike Larkin

Abelia Rose Creek is new to me - how has that grown? Is it looking as nice as the picutures in the magazines?

Clethra alnifolia - is there a cultivar that you are growing? When you first plant in the garden do you need to be careful of watering - Does it like to be in moist soil?

Great suggestions - thanks Mike

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 8:42AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

There are a number of Clethra cultivars, some variations in height, but mostly varying in flower color, white, rosy pink or pink. They will grow in moist/damp soil, but don't seem to need more than ordinary soil and water, once established. They also prefer part shade, but will adapt to mostly full sun. I have 2 'Ruby Spice'. I want 'Sixteen Candles' as I think the small size and the truly upright white flowers look attractive.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 10:51AM
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Clethra 'Hummingbird' has proved to be a rampant grower for me. It has suckered quite a bit.

Abelia 'Rose Creek' is nice in person. Stays relatively compact, flowers a lot and has nice foliage. Evergreen in the Atlanta area.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 1:35PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Abelia mosanensis is a large, rangy shrub, so needs to be sited appropriately, but its intensely fragrant blooms and spectacular fall color (it's deciduous) make it well worth growing, and it's hardy to zone 5.

Other easy shrubs include Rose of Sharon (there are sterile varieties, so no seedlings), Kalmias (need acid soil), Cotinus cogyggria cultivars, and... well, now that my brain is geared up, most of the shrubs that come to mine are easy to grow if given the correct conditions. Daphnes can surely be tricky--but easy shrubs--nearly everything I can think of--Callicarpas, Deutzias, Cornus, Rhodies, Azaleas and Pieris,Physocarpus (ninebarks), Ilex (hollies--deciduous and evergreen), Syringas (lilacs, of which there are many species and cultivars), etc.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 8:25AM
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Mike Larkin

Easy to grow for me means that the plant will tolerate a range of conditions. Not be bothered by lots of bugs, does not require frequent prunning.
For example in my area some Rhodies and Azaleas are not all that easy because they often get lace bugs. This requires regular spraying. Know it can be agrued that if the Rhodie was in the right spot then it would be less likely - which is true. I have three pjm's and that is it.

I like to hear what is doing well for others and why. Winter is coming on and it is a good time to think about plants that have worked well and plan for the spring.
Thanks for your replies.
BTW Tried Physocarpus for first time this year. So far it was easy. See how it does next spring, Also got Hydrangae Pinky Winky - Bloomed nice - but the deer nibbled some of the young brnaches - but that is another dicussion

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 10:03PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

I'm in PA just south of Allentown. I feel that good shrubs don't have to be spectacular. It is much more important that they require little care while looking strong and healthy so as to improve my view of the landscape.

I love viburnums and grow eight varieties. They seem to love my soil. They get no fertilizer, water or pest treatment.

Hollies grow great here too. They are beautiful 12 months of the year.

I have about 50 Rhododendrons and azaleas. They seem to have no problems when grown in partial shade.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 8:50AM
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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)

ÂViburnum dentatum Arrowwood (by far the easiest viburnum to grow)
ÂCallicarpa dichotoma Asian beautyberry
ÂSymphoricarpos orbiculatus Coralberry
ÂKerria japonica Japanese kerria
ÂRhus copallina 'Prairie Flame' Shining sumac

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 9:58PM
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Where I live pretty easy shrubs to grow are yews for the shady areas. (They can grow in more sun but also do well in the shade for us.)

Sunny areas, boxwood, and arborvitae.

Nothing fancy about these common shrubs but they are easy to grow and don't take much maintenance.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 12:14AM
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Mike Larkin

There is a great yew that looks best unprunned and does well in sun or shade. Your post remined me of a plant that I saw growing in some shade planted with some yellow Hakoneb grass.
Taxus repandans - a low spreading yew that grows about 1 1/2 tall and 4 ft wide. I do not have a picuture of the two planted together but the combination looks great.
The best part is is looks best if you do not do the tradional meetball prunning-

Hakone Grass

Here is a link that might be useful: Taxus repandans

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 10:11AM
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