Small flowering shrubs like lilacs can be a welcome addition to a well-designed residential landscape project. They offer texture and shape to your space with their branches and leaves, and small flowering shrubs produce a spray of spring or summer color that can attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. Where you have flowers, you also usually have berries and fruits soon after, and this can offer late-season visual interest. It’s also a way to attract birds to your garden.
When your small flowering shrubs make the change to fall colors, you have one versatile plant that can easily give you year-round visual interest in your landscape. If you’re not sure what small flowering shrubs are available or what they need to grow and thrive, this is for you. We’re going to list out 21 of the best small flowering shrubs with their growing conditions, and you can incorporate them into your landscape just in time for warm weather.
1. Rose of Sharon
The Rose of Sharon is also called Hibiscus syriacus, and it offers very large and full blooms that appear during the summer months and hang around well into fall. They can grow between 8 to 10 feet tall, but there are also shorter versions of this small flowering shrub available at five to eight feet. You can plant it by itself as a specimen plant, or you can use it to form a shrub border by planting several in a bunch. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
To grow this small flowering shrub, you’ll want to live in USDA zones five to nine. It also needs partial shade to full sun, and it can’t stand full, direct sunlight without damage. It will tolerate poor soil, but it does much better in moist, rich soil. When it blooms, you’ll get flowers that have pink with red centers, and there are also red, white, light blue, and lavender flowers.
Hibiscus Syriacus by Peter Stenzel / CC BY-ND 2.0
2. Flowering Quince
Chaenomeles speciosa is a very thorny small flowering shrub that offers multiple stems on it. It blooms in the late winter and early spring months before the leaves start to open. It can get 6 to 10 feet high, but you can find cultivars that are only four feet high like the Double Take series. It produces very distinct orange or pinkish-red flowers, and the flowers will give way to hard, small berries that you can use to make jellies or jams to add to your cheap meal plans.
The spines on the branches make this shrub excellent as a boundary or border, but it does get bare in the winter since the leaves drop. It grows best in zones five to eight, and it requires full, direct sunlight to thrive. You’ll want to plant it in a well-drained, medium-moisture soil that is very loamy in texture. You could end up with white or red flowers too.
Flowering Quince by Liz West / CC BY 2.0
Pieris japonica is native to China and Japan, and it’s an evergreen shrub that will grow between 9 and 12-feet tall at full maturity. It gives you very fragrant flowers in early spring in shades of white, and it’ll bloom before most other small flowering shrubs. It forms reddish-hued buds in late winter, and this is a very popular foundation plant and as a shrub border because it’s slightly more resistant to deer eating it. Mountain Fire and Red Mill are two varieties that are known for producing an attractive reddish-tinted leaf.
Plant this small flowering shrub outside in zones five to seven for the best results. It loves full sun, but you can grow it in partial shade. Be aware that planting it in shade or parietal shade will reduce how many flowers it produces. It should get well-drained but moist soil. It likes to have a slightly higher acidity level to the soil too.
Flowering Andromeda by snipe106 / CC BY-NC 2.0
Forsythia is a small flowering shrub that’s a cross between Forsythia and intermediate. This is one of the first bushes to bloom in the spring months, and it brings a burst of cheery, yellow blossoms that show up before the shrub’s leaves open. The size will fluctuate, but you can get cultivars that top out and one to two feet, or they go up to 10 feet high. They have a spiny feel to them that makes them an excellent plant for living fences or boundary hedges.
You can plant them and train them on trellises or plant single large plants as specimen plants. They all make excellent foundation shrubs too. You’ll need to be in zones four to eight for these small flowering shrubs to do well, and they like full sun to partial shade. The flower quantity will go down if you plant them in the shade instead of full sun though. Make sure the soil is medium-moisture, loose, but well-drained.
Forsythia by Rob Hodgkins / CC BY-SA 2.0
You get the small flowering shrub that falls under this name by crossing the Caryopteris and Clandonensis genera. They usually get between two and three feet tall at full maturity, and there are dark blue flowers that cover the shrub in late summer and continue on through early fall. The stems can die back to the ground level if you live in the northern part of the United States, and you could grow it as a perennial. You’ll typically find it planted in shrub or perennial borders, and it’s very attractive to butterflies and bees.
It offers a decent resistance to deer, and you can slightly taller cultivars with yellow-green coloring. Plant it in zones seven to nine to keep it healthy all year-round and as a perennial in zones five and six. It requires an area that gets bright, full sun each day, and the soil should drain very well between watering sessions and retain a medium moisture level.
Bluebeard by Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
6. Hardy Hibiscus
You’ve most likely seen hibiscus as a potted plant, but Hibiscus moscheutos is one larger plant that can survive in northern landscapes without much issue. The blossoms on this plant can get dinner-plate sized, and they have woody stems. They will typically die back to ground level in cold winter areas, and they usually get around five feet tall at full maturity. They can also spread up to five feet wide, and the plants will blossom in mid-summer to late fall, and you get dark green serrated foliage. You can make tea from the flowers.
To successfully grow this small flowering shrub, plant it in zones four to nine. It can produce red, white, blue, or pink flowers under the correct conditions. It is a medium-moisture soil that you can keep very moist and wet all of the time. It also loves full sun, so you’ll be watering it a lot to keep it happy.
Robert Fleming Hardy Hibiscus by wht_wolf9653 / CC BY-SA 2.0
Rhododendron Spp is a nice spring-blooming small flowering shrub that does very well when you plant it in woodland environments. You can plant them in woodland groupings in your landscaping or use them as foundation plantings. They do well planted in the background in larger yards, and they can get between four to eight feet wide and high. You can see up to 35 different varieties using the Masters Golf Championship at Augusta National Golf Course each year.
The planting zone you grow your plants in will depend on the variety, but most do well in zones four to nine. They can produce whtie, lavender or purple, red, pionk, orange, peach, and white flowers. They like full sun to partial shade, and the soil should be medium-moisture and rich. You also want it to drain well between watering sessions, and it likes it more acidic.
Azaleas by Peter Miller / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
8. Japanese Kerria
The Kerria japonica is a small flowering shrub that will give you tons of button flowers that line your shrub’s stems throughout the spring months. They get between three and six feet high at full maturity, and the blooms can last up to six weeks. It can rebloom a second time in late summer to early fall. They can grow as small as two feet and up to ten feet. It is a very tough plant that can survive you chopping it off at the ground level in winter and come back the next year to bloom again.
This plant does best in planting zones four to nine, and you want to put it in an area that gets partial shade and avoids full sun. It’s not as picky about the soil type as other small flowering shrubs, but the soil should drain well and offer medium moisture levels.
Japanese Kerria by L’eau Bleue / CC BY-SA 2.0
There are dozens of hybrids, species, and cultivars that fall under the Rhododendron genus. They can be deciduous or evergreen in nature, and they have bigger leaves and grow bigger than Azaleas. The leaves usually have a leathery texture to them, and they can get between 3 and 30 feet tall, depending on the species you plant. They offer dramatic flowers in mid-spring, and the flowers range from rend and pink to white or purple/lavender.
These are popular in woodland planting setups or as shrub borders, but they offer very little visual interest after they stop blooming for the year. These are more temperamental small flowering shrubs, and they grow well in zones four to nine. They like full sun to partial shade, and the soil should be medium-moisture but rich. It should also drain well, and they like more acidity. If you don’t have good acidity, you won’t get as impressive flowers in the spring.
Rhododendron by Jean Jones / CC BY 2.0
10. Common Lilac
Syringa vulgaris will let you know that summer is coming when it starts to produce sprays of flowers. The blooms are stunning to look at on the lilac, but they are also very fragrant. They can mature at 8 to 20 feet high, depending on the variety you pick out, and the most common colors you’ll get are purple and lavender, but reds and whites are also common. Some varieties will bloom a second time during the year in very late summer or early fall. You get light green foliage, and it’s a good idea to prune it to keep it from getting leggy.
This small flowering shrub can tolerate almost any growing conditions without a problem, and this makes it great for beginners. It grows well in zones three to seven, and you should plant it in an area that gets full sunlight. It likes well-drained soil with medium moisture levels, but it can tolerate virtually any soil. It does well with drought too.
Lilacs by Betty B / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Roses are some of the most popular small landscaping shrubs available, and you can find cultivars, species, and hybrids available for every climate. There is also a broad range of colors available, and you can choose from old-fashioned roses, climbers or ramblers, shrubs, and hybrids. Rambler and shrub varieties can survive colder zones, but hybrids will need protection once the winter weather sets it to prevent frost damage. You can also grow them as annuals or perennials.
Depending on the type of rose you pick out, they’re hardy from zone 3 to zone 12. You can get almost any color you want except true black or blue, and they bloom all summer long, well into the fall. These plants do need full sun to thrive, and the soil should be well-drained but rich. Roses also like a loamy texture to the soil, but they can survive in other types.
Roses by Daniel R. Blume / CC BY-SA 2.0
12. Korean Spice Viburnum
Viburnum carlesii is one of the most popular species of small flowering shrubs used in landscaping, and it works well as a butterfly bush to attract pollinators. It’s a rounded shrub that is very slow-growing, and it tops out at four to five feet tall. It offers pink buds that open into white flowers when the early springtime rolls around. Rabbits tend to avoid this shrub, and the white flowers can turn a very pale pink with a spicy fragrance. The flowers die off and berries replace them with a blue-black coloring. The foliage turns burgundy and red in the fall.
This small flowering shrub grows best in zones four to seven, and it needs to be in a place that gets full sun to partial shade. The soil should be well-drained but medium-moisture. It’s not picky about the soil conditions, and it can even survive mild droughts.
Korean Spice Viburnum by ulalume / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
13. White Oakleaf Hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia has blooms that you can alter to turn blue, purple, or pink, from the traditional white by changing the pH levels of the soil. Some species will give you white blooms no matter the soil’s pH, and the flowers bloom in the late spring and early summer months. They get between five and six feet tall, and it works very well in mass plantings. Use it as a woodland border or foundation plant, and it gives you oak-like leaves for texture. They’ll turn a beautiful orange or red in the fall, and they do well in alkaline soils.
This small flowering shrub grows best in zones five to nine, and it likes to be in areas of partial shade to full sun. The soil should be medium-moisture, very rich, and drain well. It also likes slightly more alkaline soil, and this can influence the flower’s colors.
Oakleaf hydrangea by normanack / CC BY 2.0
14. Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia lights up the woods in early summer or late spring in eastern North America. It produces flowers in shades of light pink, white, or red. It’s a broad-leaf evergreen shrub that will give you interest in your yard all year-round. It works well planted under large oak or maple trees, and it grows very well in wet or swampy areas. It can also tolerate drought, and this makes it very versatile. Plant it in a mass planting, and it’ll grow between 5 and 12 feet tall and five to six feet wide. There are smaller dwarf varieties available too.
The variety will dictate which planting zone this small flowering shrub can go in, but the typical range is four to nine. It needs part shade to full sun to thrive, and it’s not extremely picky with the soil. It likes moist, rich, well-drained soil, and it prefers to be in acidic soils. However, this isn’t a deal-breaker.
Kalmia latifolia by Steve Slater / CC BY 2.0
15. Vanhoutte Spirea
This small flowering shrub is a cross between Spiraea and Vanhouttei, and it makes a great landscape shrub. You’ll get a unique vase shape with it, and the branches cascade down. It is a thorny shrub that will get between five and eight feet tall. Tons of small white flowers will start to bloom in April and go until the end of May, and it’s popular is borders, foundation planting, hedges, or as a specimen plant. It offers deep green leaves with pure white flowers, but you can also get pink flowers.
To grow this small flowering shrub, plant it outside in zones three to eight. It requires a space that gets full, direct sunlight every day. The soil should drain very well between watering sessions, and you want it to be medium-moisture. It isn’t tolerant of drought, so try to ensure it never fully dries out.
Vanhoutte Spirea by Peter Jackson / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
16. Japanese Skimmias
Skimmia Japonica is an evergreen small flowering shrub that does wonderfully when you plant it in the shade as part of a forest garden. This is a very low-growing shrub that maxes out at four-feet tall, and it has a fun dome shape to it to provide visual appeal. They develop star-shaped flowers that are very fragrant, bright red berries, and evergreen foliage with lanceolate leaves. They work well as shrub borders, blooming hedges, foundation plantings, and patio containers.
Since this is a shade-loving bush, keep it out of the full sun. Plant it in zones six to eight for the best results, and keep the soil a medium moisture level. The soil should also be rich and drain well between watering sessions. It can withstand drought without a problem too. This makes it easier to care for than some of the small flowering shrubs on the list.
Skimmia japonica – “Skimmie” by pittigliani2005 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
17. Winter Heath
Also called Erica carnea, this is a very pretty low-growing small flowering shrub that will produce flowers early in the spring. It grows masses of flowers that can come in shades of magenta, pink, or purple. It’ll bloom for several weeks during the winter months too, and you can grow it as either a short shrub or a flowering ground cover. It also works well as a container plant, and it only gets up to a foot tall at full maturity. You may hear it called December Red, alpine heath, or winter-flowering heath.
For the best results, plant this shrub in zones five to eight. It will need full sun in order to produce the masses of small flowers, and it won’t do well in any shade conditions. The soil should drain very well between watering sessions, and you want it to be rich and neutral.
Erica carnea by stanze / CC BY-SA 2.0
18. Hummingbird Summersweet
The Clethra alnifolia is a very small flowering bush that offers white blooms that are very fragrant and grow in a bottlebrush-like formation. This plant will start to bloom in the middle of summer to the end of it, and the blossoms can stick around for up to six weeks. It’s a very compact shrub that works well in tight spaces like flowering shrub borders, mixed beds, or shaded gardens. It will attract hummingbirds wherever you choose to plant it.
This plant offers year-long interest to your yard as the blooms will slowly fade to brown fruits that stick around until frost. The dark green, glossy foliage will give way to a warm yellow color in the fall. It works well planted in zones three to nine in partial shade or full sun. The soil has to drain well, and it’s a good idea to let it dry out a little between watering.
DSC03447 by geneva_wirth / CC BY-NC 2.0
19. Wine Ninebark
Physocarpus opulifolius is a very tiny shrub that will produce a host of showy pink or white flowers. The flowers will grow as tight clusters or dense flowers, and they’ll form a rounded flowerhead. The rounded leaves come with three to give lobes, and they provide an interesting contrast with the flowers. It’s a deciduous shrub that has dense branches, and it works well as a small hedge, flowering border, or in a rock garden.
This is a cold-hardy small flowering shrub that does well planted anywhere in zones two to eight, and it likes partial shade to full sun. The foliage and flowers look like the larger species, but it tops out at two to four feet high. The soil should be rich and well-draining, and you want to make sure the soil keeps a medium moisture level.
Physocarpus opulifolius by Andy Morffew / CC BY 2.0
Lavandula is a very low-growing but attractive small flowering shrub that offers a lot of scented purple flowers. It’ll get between one and three feet tall at full maturity, and lavender plants can grow flower spikes that come in lilac or purple coloring. They offer an instantly recognizable and strong scent when you brush by them, and they’ll bloom from spring well into the fall months. It works well as an informal hedge, border, mixed flower beds, or in herb gardens.
You should put this plant in the ground in zones five to nine for the best results. It also likes full sun with no shade, and the soil should drain very well between watering sessions. Once it establishes itself, it’s a very drought-tolerant plant that requires very little care or maintenance, and you can easily harvest the flowers and dry them for a host of uses.
Lavender by oatsy40 / CC BY 2.0
The final plant on the small flowering shrub list is Fothergilla gardenii. It’s also called dwarf witch alder, and this is an ornamental shrub that offers compact, dense growth once it takes off. It’s a very-low growing variety that grows bottlebrush-style flowers in the early spring months. It is a spiky shrub that has a sweet honey scent to it, and it offers deep green leaves. In the fall, the green leaves give way to warm orange, red, and yellow coloring to provide year-round interest.
It’ll max out at two to three feet tall at full maturity, and it does well in compact gardens, shrub borders, to line a driveway or pathway, or along foundations. It’s a very slow-growing shrub that does well in zones five to eight, and it likes partial shade to full sun. Plant it in an area that is very well-draining by rich, and make a point to keep it slightly moist.
Fothergilla by Peter Stevens / CC BY 2.0
These 21 small flowering shrubs can help you fill in your landscape while providing visual interest and texture all year-round. You can mix and match the ones that will do well in your planting zone with similar growing conditions to get a stunning landscape that you can’t wait to show off all season long.
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.