Summer-blooming Shrubs

Kolkwitzia amabilisQuestion: I’m looking around my yard this spring and realizing most of my shrubs are already, or about to be, in bloom. Can you recommend some shrubs that bloom in the summer?

Answer: There are plenty of shrubs that bloom nicely in summer. There are dozens of options in hydrangeas. Weigelas have also maintained popularity; they bloom in early summer but will sometimes bloom again in late summer. Many mock oranges (Philadelphus spp.) bloom in summer, and they have the added benefit of great fragrance. In warm climates fuchsias grow as shrubs; some, such as F. magellanica can reach 10 feet tall. Here are a few shrubs with good summer flowers and small size.

Potentilla fruitcosa is a small round or spreading shrub, usually not much more than 3 feet, that blooms for a long period in summer. Cultivars are available with flowers in shades of yellow, red, pink and white. Grow the pale colors in full sun and the darker colors in part shade (harsh sun can bleach the petals). USDA Zones 2–7.

Rock roses (Cistus spp.) are also low shrubs. They bloom in shades of white or pink in early to midsummer and prefer full sun, good drainage and poor, rocky soil. (They’re Mediterranean plants.)  Zones 8–10.

Several white-flowered hebes are prized for their evergreen foliage, but several also boast lovely summer flowers. Try Hebe ‘Emerald Gem’ (Zones 8–10) or H. rakaiensis (Zones 6–8), both compact shrubs with tiny green leaves and white flowers. ‘Spender’s Seedling’  and H. salicifolia (both Zones 7–9) bloom for a long period in summer. The latter can reach 6 feet. Hebes with more colorful, larger flowers in summer include ‘Blue Clouds’, ‘Marjorie’ and ‘Pink Paradise’ (all Zones 8–10).

Blue mist shrub (Caryopteris spp.) bloom from mid- to late summer into fall, with spikes of blue or purplish flowers on compact, usually 3- to 5-foot plants. ‘Dark Knight’ (Zones 5–9) offers the truest blue flowers.

Kolkwitzia amabilis ‘Pink Cloud’ (shown; Zones 4–8) bears pink flowers in profusion in early summer and will tolerate a range of soil types and some shade.

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Looking for some more bloomers? Check out these Summer-Blooming Bulbs and Great Flowering Landscape Shrubs.

Want color year-round in your garden? This Month-by-Month Guide is full of shrubs and trees known for their excellent color.

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9 thoughts on “Summer-blooming Shrubs

  1. I love my Hypericum “Sunburst’, a cultivar of the native Hypericum (St. John’s Wort) frondosum, with abundant, 2″, golden yellow buttercup-like flowers with a big boss of yellow stamens that fill the center of the bloom, mis-late summer. It is about 3.5′ h & w, rated Z6-8, has red-brown exfoliating bark, and I find it more hardy & vigorous than the European/Asian species.

    • Yes, I really like Hypericum as well. Besides the bright pretty flowers in the summer, it has winter interest — leaves turn a rusty color and stay on the shrub throughout the winter. In the spring, I cut it down to the ground and it grows back beautifully every summer.

  2. Great suggestions – I’m looking forward to the Elderberry. My favorites include Joe Pye shrub – tall, skinny, likes sun, does well in my deer, gopher, rabbit, racoon, and everything infested mountain garden Sunset zone 8. Also Nine Bark – native here, but there are cultivated varieties. It has white clustered blossoms like a small hydragea, and the peeling bark is interesting all year round. Rose of Sharon I long for – once lived in a Victorian house with a Rose of Sharon tree. I’ve killed about 8 so far. . .planted the last one in hardware cloth against the gophers, but no luck. Any suggestions? Acid soil, winter to -5.

  3. I am enamored of Black Lace Elderberry, ‘Eva’ (Sambucus nigra)which blooms early summer in our zone 4-5 mountain area. The creamy pink flat flower heads contrast beautifully against deep purple leaves that resemble those of Japanese maple.

    The varieties of Butterfly bush (Buddleja)are as plentiful as migrating monarchs. Some of my favorite summer bloomers are Royal Red and Honeycomb, and Burgundy.

    Finally, you can’t beat Hydrangea arborescens for big bold blooms in summer. Annabelle is a favorite if you desire white dinner plate sized blooms or the newer ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ lights up my garden with 6 inch flowers in bright pink.

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