By Justin Hancock, Monrovia Horticultural Craftsman
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
I see a lot of landscapes that are lovely in spring and autumn, but take a break during summer. It is natural for a lot of plants to pause during the heat, but happily, you can enjoy a garden that stays colorful from frost to frost. There are a variety of beautiful shrubs with attractive flowers, foliage, or both, that you can plant now. Here are some of our favorites.
The new generation of shrub roses, including Grace N’ Grit™ varieties, bloom nonstop from late spring through autumn. This selection features bountiful clusters of double roses on a practically carefree shrub that endures long, hot summers. Tested to thrive and resist diseases in both arid and humid climates, you can count on it for rich summer color. Full sun. 5 feet tall, 4 feet wide. Zones 4–9
Among the hardiest of hydrangeas, Seaside Serenade® Bar Harbor Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) shows off masses of big, white flower heads that put on a beautiful show. The flowers are large, but its sturdy stems stay standing straight, even after heavy rain and wind, ensuring this shrub continues to look good. Partial sun. 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 3–8
An elegant evergreen that adds beauty to the landscape all year long, we are especially enamored with it in summer, when its new growth is extra silvery-blue. You are sure to love its carefree nature – Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce (Picea pungens ‘Globosa’) does not require pruning, deadheading, or other special care. Accent its lovely needles with purple-leaf shrubs such as Little Joker® Ninebark or ornamental grasses such as Elijah Blue Fescue. Partial to full sun. 5 feet tall, 6 feet wide. Zones 2–8
We tend to think of crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) as trees, but dwarf selections make for beautiful flowering shrubs that hold up to the heat, even in the Deep South. Petite Pinkie™ is a lovely selection that shows off waves of clear pink flowers in summer and into autumn. Blend it with other flowering shrubs in beds and borders, enjoy it in large containers, or employ it as a stunning informal hedge. Full sun. 5 feet tall, 4 feet wide. Zones 7–9
Lush beauty, outstanding heat tolerance, and fragrant flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies – that's what you get with butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii). This one bears clusters of sweetly scented flowers that pair beautifully with practically anything you plant it with. Note: Check local restrictions before planting; butterfly bush is considered invasive in some areas. Partial to full sun. 6 feet tall, 5 feet wide. Zones 5–9
An under-appreciated flowering shrub, bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) holds up to heat, tolerates drought, boasts resistance to deer and rabbits, and is beautiful to boot! This variety shows off deep blue flowers that bloom throughout the summer and into autumn. Add it to perennial and shrub borders, butterfly gardens, and low-water landscape plans. Full sun. 2-1/2 feet tall, 2 feet wide. Zones 5–9
Fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense) offers beauty all year long thanks to its evergreen foliage. Ever Red® doubles down on its leaves, which are a rich, burgundy-purple color. The foliage highlights its on-and-off again display of vivid, deep-red flowers. Partial to full sun. 6 feet tall and wide. Zones 7–9
It's hard to pick a favorite fragrant flower, but Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac) is near the top of our list. Summer Soul® bears huge, fully double flowers that fill the summer garden with its light, sweet fragrance. It can bloom almost all year in frost-free climates or if brought indoors and gets high light over winter in cold-winter areas. Partial to full sun. 8 feet tall, 4 feet wide. Zones 9–11
One of the most reliable flowering shrubs for subtropical regions, Royal Cape® Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) beautifies landscapes with its steady supply of rich, lavender-blue flowers. The blossoms are magnets for butterflies and hummingbirds, too! You are also sure to enjoy its carefree nature; once established, it tolerates heat and drought. In cold-winter areas, it makes for an outstanding annual. Full sun. 5 feet tall, 8 feet wide. Zones 9–11
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