What would our gardens be without shrubs to bring structure and a sense of order to the space? We are continually amazed at the ingenuity of plant breeders who bring us new shrubs with traits we never even imagined possible. We love growing shrubs and it was incredibly tough to pick just ten favorites from our full list of new shrubs this season. See which ten made the cut…
Lo & Behold butterfly bushes have long been some of our most popular shrubs, but until now the series has been missing one color: magenta pink. Ruby Chip changes all of that with its plentiful, magenta pink flowers which bloom prolifically from midsummer into fall. Like the others in the series, this one also has a tidy pincushion-like shape, growing just 2-3’ tall at maturity. It’s perfect for filling the middle of full sun borders with long-blooming color, and you will be amazed how effortlessly it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to your landscape.
2-3’ tall, 2-3’ spread, full sun, zone 5-9, deer resistant
Smokebushes are known for their incomparable flower show in summer, but The Velvet Fog kicks it up a notch by producing more flowers than any other variety we’ve seen, and in a darker shade of red-pink. It is truly a showstopper when in bloom from about late June through mid-July in Michigan (earlier in warmer climates). Its blue-green foliage is adorned with red new growth at the tips. Try growing this plant as a large shrub around your foundation or limb it up into a small tree to use as a specimen in a garden bed.
5-8’ tall, 6’ spread, full sun, zone 5-8, deer resistant
One of the most elegant shrubs we’ve seen in recent trials is this gorgeous new rose of Sharon. It was selected for its extra-large flowers that rival tropical hibiscus in size, which is remarkable for such a cold hardy shrub. The blossoms are sparkling white with prominent magenta eyelash-patterned center markings. The shrub becomes covered in blooms from base to tip beginning in midsummer and lasting into fall. Another thing we like about this new cultivar is its more flexible habit with branches that sway gently in the breeze rather than being rigid like most rose of Sharon shrubs. It fits beautifully into mixed borders and as a backdrop for perennial gardens.
5-8’ tall, 4-5’ spread, full sun, zone 5-9, deer resistant
After trialing over 160 varieties of reblooming azaleas for many years, Proven Winners has introduced two double-flowered selections in their Perfecto Mundo series. Double Pink made its debut last year, Double Purple joins the fun this spring. Large, double, orchid purple flowers cover this plant for many weeks in spring, summer and fall on mid-sized plants with healthy, dark green foliage. They would be outstanding in foundation plantings and mixed into flower borders. These azaleas are resistant to lacebugs, which can be an issue in some climates.
2.5-3’ tall, 3’ spread, full sun (in cooler climates) to part shade, zone 6b-9
We are thrilled about the innovative new traits this reblooming lacecap hydrangea offers. Rather than producing one main flower at the top of each stem, it forms flower buds all up and down the length of the stems. Mountain hydrangeas have extra-cold hardy buds and stems, but if the top bud is damaged or cut off, Let’s Dance Cancan will still bloom. That’s good news for northern gardeners! And did we mention that its blossoms are spectacular? Each showy floret is doubled. They are so large that they nearly obscure the fertile flowers in the center of each cluster. In more alkaline soils, they will be bubblegum pink; in acidic soils they will be lavender blue.
3-4’ tall, 3’ spread, full sun to part shade, zone 5-9
We promise, this hydrangea is guaranteed to make you happy, not grumpy! Its fun name comes from the breeder who named all his selections after Disney’s Seven Dwarfs. Wee Bit Grumpy is a compact hydrangea with extra-large flowers, packing a ton of color onto its two-foot chassis every summer. What is so remarkable is its dramatic coloring—it is so intense you’ll almost wonder if these flowers have been dyed. We recommend growing this hydrangea in acidic soil where its blossoms will be deep royal blue. In less acidic soils, they will be reddish pink.
2’ tall, 2.5’ spread, full sun to part shade, zone 5-9
It has been a long, long time since a nice mock orange came around. We’ve always loved their intensely fragrant blossoms, but they often came on a plant that was too big to fit into most gardens and with foliage that didn’t impress. The new Illuminati series from Proven Winners changes all of that with the introduction of Illuminati Arch® and Illuminati Tower®. Both have beautiful dark green, glossy foliage that remains attractive all season and much more manageable habits. Illuminati Arch is a mid-sized shrub with stems that become slightly arching over time. They are lined with large, double, sweetly fragrant, snow white flowers from late spring to early summer. For a more columnar look, choose Illuminati Tower.
4’ tall, 4’ spread, full sun to part shade, zone 4-7, deer resistant
The multi-colored effect of new landscape roses like Ringo™ and Ringo All-Star™ from Proven Winners makes them such fun to have around the garden. Every day we see them in our gardens and greenhouses, their colors are a little different than the day before. The new Ringo All-Star bears salmon pink buds which open to reveal rich melon-orange flowers with a cherry red center. As the flowers age, they transform into lavender and pink shades. A cluster of golden pollen-covered stamens in the center of each blossom provides food for pollinators. This highly disease-resistant rose blooms from summer into fall without deadheading.
2-3’ tall, 3’ spread, full sun, zone 4-8
If ‘Miss Kim’ lilac didn’t turn out to be as dwarf as you had hoped, try swapping it out for the new Baby Kim lilac, which is the smallest lilac we’ve ever seen. Now everyone has space for a lilac bush! The 2-3’ rounded habit is loaded with amazingly fragrant, true lilac-scented blossoms every spring. Its dark purple buds will hold your interest while you await its highly anticipated, light lavender flowers. Then, enjoy the clean, rich green foliage as a backdrop for flowering annuals and perennials over the remainder of the season.
2-3’ tall, 3’ spread, full sun, zone 3-8, deer resistant
This inseparable pair of new evergreen viburnums combines the beauty of David viburnum with the heat tolerance of Chinese viburnum, making them easier to grow than ever before in southern and western states. When planted together, both shrubs will produce showy white flowers in spring followed by clusters of blue fruits in fall. They will thrive in part shade under a canopy of tall trees and can be grown on slopes for erosion control. Elegant, thick, glossy foliage holds interest year-round.
2-4’ tall (Yin), 2’ tall (Yang), 4’ spread, part shade, zone 7b-9
Want to explore more of our shrubs? Click here to see our whole collection.