Kinds of Shrubs

Thousands of shrubs are available to home gardeners, which can make it tough to choose. Here are some basics to help you understand the differences between them.

Deciduous shrubs – those that lose their leaves each year – come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and most have attractive blooms. Some have arching branches – for example, butterfly bush and forsythia. Common lilac and hibiscus have erect branches. Hydrangeas and witch hazels tend to have a rounded form. The Sargent crabapple and staghorn sumac have spreading branches.

Coniferous shrubs are cone-bearing, primarily evergreen plants with needlelike or scalelike leaves. They may be low and trailing, spreading, rounded or upright.

Broad-leaved evergreen shrubs include boxwood, azalea and myrtle. These plants’ leaves are usually thick and waxy.

Evergreens do a good job of hiding heat pumps, dog runs or garbage cans year-round. Tall evergreens can be used to guide the eye up and over permanent landscape features such as fences and walls.