Low maintenance flowering bushes are suitable for almost all types of garden or landscape. Easy to care for and versatile, many low maintenance flowering bushes require little to no pruning and are disease resistant. They also flower heavily and reliably, adding, in return for minimal maintenance, color to your garden and attracting scores of birds, butterflies and pollinators.
The following are some of the most attractive and versatile low maintenance flowering bushes. Requiring little care beyond watering, a regular dose of fertilizer and some light pruning, many of the suggestions below can be used in combination or on their own adding color and interest to any type of garden.
1 Oakleaf Hydrangea
A staple of the flower garden, Oakleaf Hydrangeas are amongst the most common low maintenance flowering bushes. A deciduous shrub which is native to the southeastern United States, once established Oakleaf hydrangea varieties, like other types of hydrangea, are pleasingly easy to care for.
Our how to care for hydrangeas guide is a good place to start if you are new to caring for these low maintenance flowering bushes.
The hydrangea is one of the most popular low maintenance flowering bushes.
Achieving a height and spread of 6 to 8 ft, Oakleaf hydrangeas produce large cone shaped clusters of white flowers in early summer. These fade to pink as they mature.
Thriving in both full sun and partial shade these showy specimens continue to provide interest in the fall as the leaves turn eye-catching shades of red, purple or orange. Hydrangeas are best planted in moist soil but, in truth, with the right care they thrive in most soil profiles. Prune immediately after the flowers have faded if necessary.
In smaller spaces, dwarf cultivars such as Ruby Slippers, Pee Wee and Munchkin can all be successfully cultivated.
Native to China, Weigela is one of the best low maintenance flowering bushes to draw hummingbirds to your garden. Booming from April to June, during this period the plants are covered in pink, tubular flowers,
The tubular flowers and arching stems of the Weigela.
Weigela plants typically display a prolific flowering habit, this, coupled with the plants easy going nature, makes it a popular choice in a range of planting schemes and landscapes. An attractive arching growth habit is complemented by the foliage, some types have wine red or variegated leaves.
Easy to care for, the many different Weigela varieties share similar care and maintenance needs. Most varieties grow to a height of 6 to 10 ft and spread 9 to 12 ft wide. Weigela plants are largely pest and disease resistant.
Best planted in full sun, Weigela plants also tolerate partial shade but may require a little extra attention. Prune as soon as the floral display ends for the year because the plants set new blooms on last season’s growth.
Compact cultivars include My Monet, Minuet, Dark Horse, Spilled Wine and Variegata Nana.
3 Shrub Roses
A classic addition to the floral garden shrub roses are prolific bloomers. One of the most popular low maintenance flowering bushes, shrub roses are largely disease and pest resistant.
Reaching a height of 3 to 4 ft and a similar spread, these prolific plants require little regular care. In addition to watering and a little fertilizer the only maintenance required is a little light deadheading. Removing spent blooms encourages more to form, prolonging the floral display.
The floral, fragrant rose bush has long been a staple of the ornamental flower garden.
There are many different types of shrub roses. One of the most popular cultivars is the Rugosa Rose series. These low maintenance flowering bushes are both hardy and prolific.
Another popular series of shrub roses is the Knock Out series. Reliable, long lasting flowering bushes, Knock Out Roses flower throughout the summer. Most varieties are best planted in full sun but some tolerate partial shade.
4 Annabelle Hydrangea
As we have already noted the hydrangea is one of the most popular and reliable low maintenance flowering bushes. Of the many different varieties of hydrangea, the Annablelle or Smooth hydrangea is perhaps the most attractive. It is also pleasingly reliable.
Ideal for growers in cooler climates, Annabelle sets flowers on new wood meaning that they aren’t frozen from the plant during cold winter spells.
Native to North America this deciduous shrub typically flowers from June to September. During this period it is covered in foot wide white flowers. These fade to green or light pink as the season progresses.
Annabelles are particularly striking low maintenance flowering.
One of the best flowering bushes for shade, Annabelle is tolerant of both wet and dry soil. Once established, Annabelle hydrangeas typically achieve a height and spread of 3 to 4 ft.
Best planted in partial shade, Anabelles planted in full sun require more frequent watering to prevent wilting. Prune in late winter or spring, cutting back to a height of 12 to 18 inches to promote a good, healthy shape.
5 Dwarf Korean Lilac
One of the more compact cultivars on our list, Dwarf Korean Lilac plants are popular for their spring emerging, fragrant flowers. Compact rounded plants with a slow growth habit, Dwarf Korean Lilacs typically achieve a height of 4 ft and spread 5 to 7 ft wide.
Floral clusters in shades of pink and purple emerge from April to June. When in flower, Dwarf Korean Lilac flowers draw hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden. Best planted in full sun for the maximum floral impact. The plants also tolerate partial shade but may not produce as many flowers.
One of the easiest to care for low maintenance flowering bushes, prune as soon as flowering has finished for the year. Deadheading the spent blooms improves next year’s floral display as well as keeping the plant looking neat.
The distinctive Smokebush plant is named after the plant’s wispy spent flower heads. Resembling plumes of smoke, these develop as the flowers fade, providing late summer interest. During the summer months, when in bloom, the plant’s attractive yellow flowers are complemented by its green or red foliage.
The distinctive spent flowerheads of the Smokebush.
Smokebush is hardy down to a temperature of -20 ℉. These distinctive plants typically achieve a height and spread of 10 to 15 ft. If space is at a premium, smaller cultivars such as Winecraft Black and Lilla are just as attractive.
Native to Europe and Asia, Smokebush plants flower from May to July. As the flowers fade they turn to fluff. Best planted in full or partial sun these deer resistant plants struggle in poorly draining soil.
7 Virginia Sweetspire
Virginia Sweetspire is native to North America. One of the hardiest, low maintenance flowering bushes, these plants have a typical height and spread of 3 to 5 ft. Virginia Sweetspire typically flowers from May to June. When in bloom, draping panicles of white fragrant flowers cover the plant creating an eyecatching spectacle.
The fragrant flowers of Virginia Sweetspire are popular with pollinators. Virginia Sweetspire by Puddin Tain / CC 2.0
Happy in either full or partial sun, prune your Virginia Sweetspire when flowering finishes for the year. This is either in late spring or early summer, depending on where you are growing the plants. An unfussy plant, Virginia Sweetspire tolerates wet soil and wet feet. This makes it an ideal inclusion in low lying areas or rain gardens.
Further adding to the attraction, Virginia Sweetspire foliage turns red in the fall. Deer resistant, the plants are popular for their rounded growth habit and attractive arching branches.
As well as full sized specimens, smaller or compact types such as Little Henry and Merlot are available. These are ideal for container gardens or growing in pots on patios.
8 Chinese Paperbush
Chinese Paperbush plants are amongst the most attractive yellow flowering bushes currently available. Blooming from late winter to the middle of spring, these low maintenance flowering bushes provide spectacular early season color.
A reliable specimen, in late winter showy flowers set on bare stems. The flowers are followed by attractive green leaves which have a gray-green contrasting underside.
Native to Nepal, Japan and China, as the name suggests the plant is often used to make high quality paper. The plants are also used in a range of homemade, herbal remedies.
Chinese Paperbush is one of the showiest low maintenance flowering bushes. edgeworthia chrysantha by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen / CC 2.0
Chinese Paperbush plants, also known as Yellow Daphne, are hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 10. Tolerating full sun and partial shade positions these hardy plants can achieve a height and spread of 4 to 6 ft. If you are planting in a cool or exposed area the Chinese Paperbush plants will need some protection, particularly during the winter months.
Additionally, during the summer months you will need to shade any shrubs growing in full sun from the summer heat. A Cool Area Sunblock Shade is a great product that blocks the direct sun, protecting sensitive foliage whilst still allowing light to permeate to your plants.
9 Japanese Spirea
Native to Japan and other parts of Asia, the Japanese Spirea is one of the most distinctive low maintenance flowering bushes. During the summer months Japanese Spirea produces flat topped pink floral clusters that draw scores of butterflies and pollinators to the garden.
Japanese Spirea draws scores of pollinators to the garden.
Achieving a height of 4 to 6 ft and a spread of 5 to 7 ft, Spirea plants typically produce flowers in June and July when planted in full sun. Prune as soon as flowering finishes for a second, late season floral display.
Low maintenance flowering bushes, it is advised that you heavily prune your Japanese Spirea in late winter or early spring. Cutting the plants back to the ground every few years helps them to keep their shape.
In smaller spaces compact cultivars, including Double Plant, Lil Flirt, Golden Eid and Candy Corn, are reliable options that provide just as much interest as full sized cultivars.
10 Bottlebrush Buckeye
One of the most distinctive low maintenance flowering bushes, Bottlebrush Buckeye is popular for its attractive, elongated floral spikes. An eye catching addition to the garden, these deciduous shrubs is native to the Southeastern United States.
An attractive specimen you can either use the Bottlebrush Buckeye plant as a hedge plant or as a stunning specimen plant. While Bottlebrush Buckeye tolerates full sun, it is also happy in full and partial shade positions.
The upright floral spikes of the Bottlebrush Buckeye plant. 20100804_StanleyPk22_AesculusParviflora_Cutler_P1030846 by Wendy Cutler / CC 2.0
Most Bottlebrush Buckeye plants can, in favorable conditions, achieve a height of 8 to 15 ft and a spread of 8 to 12 ft. Bottlebrush Buckeye is at its best in June and July when upright white floral spikes cover the plant. These can grow to a height of around 12 inches towering over the foliage. Sometimes the flowers fade to be replaced by buckeye nuts. Further interest is provided in the fall when the foliage turns bright yellow.
While you can prune Bottlebrush Buckeye plants after flowering there is no real need to unless you are trying to control their spread.
Clethra shrubs are deciduous low maintenance flowering bushes that are native to the Eastern United States. Producing white flowers during mid summer, this robust specimen thrives in both wet and dry soils once established.
Reaching a height of 3 to 8 ft the foliage can be hard to spot during July and August when upright slender panicles of white and pink blooms cover the plant.
The elongated floral spikes of the Clethra. IMG_0020 by Kenneth Hong / CC 2.0
Summersweet Clethra is a particularly attractive cultivar. Tolerating full and partial sun as well as wet and average soil, apart from watering the only maintenance required is a little light pruning in late winter if needed. Like other cultivars the flowers which cover the plant draw scores of bees and butterflies to your garden.
One of the best small flowering shrubs to add color and interest to the landscape, Clethra is ideal for gardens of any size. For smaller spaces and container gardens dwarf varieties such as Sixteen Candles, Hummingbird, Cytalina and White Dove are all excellent choices.
Native to the eastern United States, Possumhaw is one of the more colorful low maintenance flowering bushes on our list. A deciduous shrub that can also be cultivated as a small tree, Possumhaw flowers from April to late May.
Following pollination, in the fall, colorful berries form. These can be pink or deep blue in color. Adding further interest and color to bare fall gardens the berries of both colors can appear at the same time. Like holly plants, you should plant a range of Possumhaw plants for maximum berry production.
Winterthur is a reliable Possumhaw cultivar. Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur by Plant Image Library / CC 2.0
Popular with birds and pollinators, Possumhaw plants are hardy down to -20 ℉.Best planted in full sun these plants attract few pests and require little pruning. Depending on the cultivar Possumhaw can grow to a height of 5 to 12 ft and spread just as wide.
Brandywine is an attractive, compact culitvar which achieves a maximum height of 6 ft. Winterthur is another reliable choice.
13 Goldthread Cypress
Popular in many modern planting schemes, the Goldthread Cypress is a reliable, evergreen that, despite the common name, is actually part of the Chamaecyparis plant family. A semi-dwarf cultivar, these attractive, low maintenance flowering bushes produce yellow-green needles on weeping branches throughout the year.
Providing year-round interest, Goldthread Cypress is hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 8 and tolerates temperatures as low as -30 ℉. Despite not actually flowering, Goldthread Cypress earns its place on our list of low maintenance flowering bushes thanks to its colorful, year round thread-like foliage.
Typically developing into an attractive cone shape, Goldthread Cypress plants are capable of growing up to 20 ft tall. However, regular pruning helps to keep the plants smaller and more compact. Best planted in full sun, if Goldthread Cypress receives too little light, growth becomes sparse.
14 Witch Hazel
One of the most interesting, low maintenance flowering bushes, Witch Hazel plants flower in the winter, typically from early or mid January to mid March. Producing eye-catching spidery flowers in shades of red, orange and yellow on bare stems Witch Hazel brings early season interest to otherwise bare gardens.
A cool weather loving plant, today some cultivars and hybrids have been bred to flower at other times of the year, enabling you to enjoy these distinctive blooms throughout the year. Most cultivars reach a height of 6 to 10 ft.
The spidery blooms of the Witch Hazel set on bare stems.
Native to North America, in addition to the distinctive blooms, the plants emit an attractive spicy fragrance. If you want to learn more about growing Witch Hazel plants in your garden, our in depth guide is packed with useful information.
15 Inkberry Holly
A popular broadleaf evergreen, the Inkberry holly is native to North America. A good foundation plant, there is no need to prune these low maintenance flowering bushes.
One of the most popular types of holly bushes, while the spring forming flowers are considered insignificant, the dark green glossy leaves and dark blue berries of the Inkberry bush provide more attraction.
Happy in either full or partial sun, Inkberry plants achieve a height and spread of between 5 and 8 ft depending on the growing conditions. Prune in early spring if required.
The holy is a reliable source of year round interest.
Like other types of holly, Inkberry holly is an adaptable plant. To guarantee berries for every male plant you will need to plant up to 5 female specimens.
Reliable Inkberry cultivars include:
- Gem Box,
Low Maintenance Flowering Bushes Care Tips
Whilst each plant listed above has its own specific care needs, there are some general rules that apply to all low maintenance flowering bushes.
The majority of low maintenance flowering bushes can be planted at any time of year. However, most specimens are best planted in early spring as soon as the last frost date has passed and the soil is workable. Planting in the spring gives the plants plenty of time to settle into their new home before the cooler temperatures of fall arrive.
Before planting, work the soil over, removing any weeds and rocks and breaking up clumps of earth. This is also the best time to work in any necessary soil amendments. A soil test kit provides a simple, reliable way to find out what, if any, nutrients your soil is lacking.
Choose your planting place carefully. An easy way to do this is, when your low maintenance flowering bushes are still in their pots, to place them in their intended planting spot. Allow the plants to sit in the position, in their pots for a few weeks. This gives you time to see how they adapt. If the plants visibly start to struggle they are easily removed to another, more favorable position.
Water the plants well before transplanting. This helps to reduce transplant shock.
Dig a hole in the soil at least twice as deep and wide as the pot. When planting, cover the entire root ball and firm down the soil.
After planting water you low maintenance bushes regularly. An automated system, such as the RAINPOINT Programmable Outdoor Hose Feature Timer, enables you to keep your plants happy and hydrated with minimal effort.
Regularly weed the soil around the plants to keep it neat and clear. This is particularly important when plants are young or newly planted and are trying to establish themselves.
Low maintenance flowering bushes are a great way to add color and interest to the garden.
Pairing the plants with smaller flowers , known as companion plants, helps to keep deer and other pests away. Russian Sage and Lavender are both reliable companion plants.
Fertilize and prune when necessary. Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N’ Feed flowering trees and Shrubs Plant Food is easy to use and suitable for most types of low maintenance flowering bushes.
Low maintenance flowering bushes are a great way to easily add color and interest to any garden or landscape. The suggestions outlined above are ideal for a range of purposes from larger specimen shrubs to small, container plants.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.