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The most perfect perennial shrubs for your garden

landscape layering with perennial shrubs

Looking for that amazing “pop” of color in your garden or landscape? A plant that makes a statement and really stands out against your backdrop?

Enter… flowering perennial shrubs (or bushes). Perennial shrubs add balance and color to your landscape.

Flowering shrubs rhododendron garden
A garden of flowering rhododendron shrubs (Rhododendron ponticum). Rhodys not only flower profusely in spring, but their leaves are evergreen and stay on the shrub all winter long


I love flowering shrubs because they can really catch the attention of passerbys. If you’re following my garden pyramid for planting success, you have already chosen your ornamental tree(s) and evergreen shrubs.

Flowering shrubs make the perfect choice for right in front of your evergreen backbone planting. So, place your perennial shrubs in front of a row of evergreens to really make them POP. 

These flowering bushes can add lots of long-lasting color and personality and are large enough to make a big statement. In fact, a lot of the perennial shrubs I’ll mention are long-blooming; for weeks and even months on end. 

And… when they are done blooming, your sturdy evergreen foundation will keep your garden from looking bare and messy. Once you choose the perennial shrubs that are right for your garden, you’ll see your landscape really start take shape.

Quick Tip: My landscape layering post  will show you how to create a beautiful, four-season landscape, even if you’re a beginner gardener!

Long Blooming & Easy-Care Perennial Shrubs

Here are some of my favorite perennial shrubs that you can plant in your own garden. I really love these options because not only do they bloom for a long time but they’re also low maintenance, making them great for beginners.

The only things you’ll need to do is keep them watered and fertilized. After planting these shrubs you should supplement their water supply until the roots get established.  Beyond that, they should be able to handle the weather if you get about an inch of rain each week.

Many people find flowering shrubs to be difficult to grow. The biggest issue that I see, is that most people do not fertilize flowering shrubs enough — or at all. Any plant, shrub or tree in your garden that is a prolific bloomer needs to be fertilized.

It takes a lot of energy for her to look so beautiful for you every day! So… you should pick up some plant fertilizer and follow the feeding instructions provided. My favorite is Espoma Rose-Tone Rose and flower food if you are looking for a specific recommendation!

Ok – onto my recommendations for the best perennial flowering shrubs for you to try in your own garden!

The Best Spring Flowering Shrubs

Azalea ‘Hot Shot Girard’

Azalea Hot Shot Girard Evergreen Shrub
Azalea x ‘Girard’s Hot Shot’

Zones: 6-9 | 2-3’W x 2-3’W | Part Sun
Blooms in mid-spring
Native to China, the Himalayas and Myanmar

A beautiful fiery flowering shrub, ‘Hot Shot Girard’ Azalea blooms in mid-spring, but its semi-evergreen nature and small size makes it a workhorse in your mixed border all year long.


A great partial sun option for a mixed border, ‘Hot Shot Girard‘ azalea is a hardy, ornamental evergreen shrub with brilliant flowers. This azalea catches fire in mid-spring with orange-red 3″ ruffled blooms. It also attracts butterflies.

Elderberry ‘Black Beauty’ or ‘Black Lace’

Elderberry 'Black Beauty' (Sambuscus nigra 'Gerda')
Elderberry ‘Black Beauty’ (Sambuscus nigra ‘Gerda’) is a large upright shrub with purple, strappy foliage and pink blooms. Photo Courtesy of Washington State University.
black lace elderberry has purple foliage pink blooms and berries
Elderberry ‘Black Lace’ (Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’) is similar to Black Beauty, but with a bit darker purple foliage with a finer, fern-like texture similar to the Japanese Maple.

Zones: 4-7 | 8-12′ H x 5-6′ W | Full to Part Sun
Blooms in late spring, berries in the fall.
Native to Europe, southwestern Asia and northern Africa

Elderberry ‘Black Beauty’ begins its show with clusters of lovely, lemon-scented pink blooms in spring. The deep, burgundy, fern-like foliage looks gorgeous when it’s not in bloom. It also attracts birds (and people) with tasty summer berries. 

-Amy Fedele, Pretty Purple Door

The European Elderberry ‘Black Beauty’ (Sambuscus nigra ‘Gerda’) has exotic, fern-like deep purple foliage with purple young stems. In spring, pink blooms with a lemony scent envelop this unique shrub, attracting butterflies. It also bears yummy edible fruit (elderberries) in the summer that both people and birds love. The cultivar ‘Black Lace’ is similar to ‘Black Beauty’, but the foliage is a shade darker with a finer, fern-like texture similar to a Japanese Maple.

Note: In order to produce berries, plant a compatible pollinator nearby (Black Beauty, Black Lace, Instant Karma, or Laced Up elderberry will cross-pollinate).

American Black Elderberry (Native)

American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
The American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is native to a large portion of North America. Photo courtesy of Washington State University.

If you have the space for it, take a look at the American black elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), native to a large area of North America. It’s a loose, graceful, deciduous shrub with green foliage and white blooms. It grows 8-12′ high and wide in Zones 4-9.

Quick Tip: If you like the elderberry, check out these 15 plants and shrubs with burgundy red foliage.

Indian Hawthorne ‘Pinkie’

Indian Hawthorne ‘Pinkie’ (Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Pinkie’) grows 2-5’H x 3-4’W in Zones 7-9.

Zones 7-11 | Part-Full Sun | Shrub: 3-4’ H x 3-6’ W (varies by variety) | Tree: 15-25’ H x 8-10’ W
Blooms in spring, berries in the fall.
Native to Southern China and Japan

Pinkie is adorned with pink flowers in spring, has dark berries to attract birds in the summer and will even keep its foliage throughout the winter.

-Amy Fedele, PRetty Purple Door

Indian Hawthorne is a double bang-for-your-buck plant because it’s an evergreen shrub but is just as beautiful as the other perennial shrubs in this list. ‘Pinkie’ (Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Pinkie’) is a good variety to check out in Zones 7-9 for its compact size (2-5’H x 3-4’W). 

The Indian Hawthorne is a no-fuss small and slow-growing shrub. It bursts with pink or white clusters of flowers in spring on rich, glossy evergreen foliage. The flowers give way to dark, blue berries that attract birds and other wildlife the rest of the year.

Quick Tip: If you like these flowering shrubs, check out this post for a list of the longest blooming perennials in my home garden.

Knockout Rose Bush

Yellow Knockout Rose Bush
Sunny Knock Out® Shrub Rose (Rosa SUNNY KNOCK OUT ‘RADsunny’). Photo by Pretty Purple Door.

Zones: 5-11 | 3-4’W x 3-4’W | Full Sun
Blooms spring through fall

A must have flowering shrub for any garden is the “knockout” or “double knockout” rose bush — these can bloom up to 9 months of the year and are very easy to care for.


Knockout or double knockout roses are easy to grow, don’t require special care and bloom on and off for up to 9 months of the year — literally from spring until the end of fall when it starts to frost.

Knockout roses come in a couple different variations of color. Most are in the hot pink (Rosa PINK KNOCK OUT ‘Radcon’) to blush pink (Rosa x ‘Radgor’), or yellow family (Rosa SUNNY KNOCK OUT ‘RADsunny’) .

Free Gift: 10 Proven Plant Combinations to Try in Your Own Garden

ebook mockup free download

Never know what to plant together? Get 10 FREE plant combinations for spring, summer, fall and even winter so you can create stunning combinations in your garden in all four seasons. There are plant combos suited for every zone from 3-9. All pairings in this guide will work in zones 5-7.

Blooming Bushes for Summer Gardens

Hydrangea ‘Little Quickfire’

Quickfire Panicle Hydrangea Form
Quickfire (Hydrangea paniculata) Photo by Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Quickfire Panicle Hydrangea Bloom
Quickfire (Hydrangea paniculata) Photo by Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Zones 3-8 | 3-5’ H x 3-5’ W | Full to Part Sun
Blooms in early summer
Native to China and Japan

I love ‘Little Quickfire’ for many reasons. It has red stems with white blooms that slowly fade to rosy pink. It tolerates full sun. And it blooms about a month earlier than other hydrangeas!


If you’re looking for a flowering perennial shrub that can tolerate some shade, Hydrangea ‘Little Quickfire’ is a great option. Native to China and Japan, white blooms appear in early summer – about 1 month sooner than other hydrangeas. As the blooms age, they fade to a pink color (like in the photo). Little Quickfire is a more petite version of Quickfire, which gets 6-8′ tall and wide.

Virginia Rose

Virginia Rose native shrub with green foliage and small pink flowers
Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana) is a native shrub with green foliage, small pink flower through summer and excellent fall color. Photo by Clayton D’Orsay CC BY-NC 4.0

Zones: 3-8 | 2-4’H x 2-4’W | Full-Part Sun
Blooms in early to late summer
Native to Southeastern United States

Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana) is a low-growing, deciduous shrub with upright shoots and a dense, rounded habit. Glossy dark green summer leaves turn orange-red in the fall. Also known as common wild rose or prairie rose, the Virginia Rose blooms with fragrant, 1-3″ pink flowers in early summer and then blooms sporadically into late summer (June-August). It is not deer resistant.

Virginia rose can be used in a mixed border or pruned into a low, informal hedge. Due to its colonizing habit, is often used to stabilize sunny slopes, at the edge of water or near low-lying, seasonally damp areas.

Spirea ‘ Superstar’

Superstar Spirea
Spirea ‘Superstar’ (Spiraea x bumalda ‘Denistar’)

Zones 3-8 | 1′-8’ H x 6’ W (varies by variety) | Full Sun
Blooms in summer
Native to Japan

Spirea are prolific spring or summer bloomers, depending on the variety. With so many options you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you!


With so many varieties to choose from, you won’t have a hard time finding a spirea that you will fall in love with. Spirea are classified as spring-blooming or summer-blooming.

The pink blooming spirea pictured is called Superstar (Spiraea x bumalda ‘Denistar’). This is a compact (2-3’H x 1-4’W) variety with blooms of apple-pink blossoms that cover the plant all summer long. In addition to the blooms it also has beautiful fall foliage.

Note: Spiraea japonica is invasive in certain areas of the US. Please do your research before planting.

Smoke Bush ‘Velveteeny’ or ‘Royal Purple’

Red-burgundy foliage on a compact shrub.
Smoke Bush ‘Velveteeny’ (Cotinus coggygria)

Full-Part Sun, 3-4′ W x 3-4′ H, Zones 4-8
Blooms in summer
Native from Southern Europe to central China

So uniquely beautiful, you will never regret planting a smoke bush. With dwarf varieties like Velveteeny widely available, even gardeners with small spaces can grow this show-stopper.

-Amy Fedele, Pretty Purple Door

At just 3-4′ tall, smoke bush ‘Velveteeny’ offers the same silky smooth, deep burgundy foliage with large feathery dove gray/pink plumes in summer. In the fall, its unique purple foliage transforms to bright red, adding an additional season of interest. Velveteeny has similar qualities as her big brother ‘Royal Purple‘ (12-15’H x 10-12’W), but in a petite, dwarf form perfect for small home landscapes.

Beyond Midnight Bluebeard

perennial shrub
Bluebeard ‘Beyond Midnight’ (Caryopteris x clandonensis)

Full Sun, 2-3′ W x 2-3′ H, Zones 5-9
Blooms in late summer
Native to east Asia

Bluebeards add big interest in a small package, bursting alive with “true blue” blooms on long stems in late summer. These aren’t used in home landscapes as much as they should be!

Amy Fedele, Pretty Purple door

Beyond Midnight Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis) is a lovely vibrant green shrub, with a naturally rounded shape. Beyond Midnight adapts to a variety of soils and is drought resistant once established. Even though wildlife love it, destructive deer will pass it by. Its true value is seen as the season progresses. In late summer, long stems shoot up above the glossy, dark-green foliage COVERED in deep-blue flowers. There are so many blue blossoms shooting from these long wands that it has the effect of turning the shrub into a  big blue ball in your landscape. So cool!

Free Gift: 10 Proven Plant Combinations to Try in Your Own Garden

ebook mockup free download

Never know what to plant together? Get 10 FREE plant combinations for spring, summer, fall and even winter so you can create stunning combinations in your garden in all four seasons. There are plant combos suited for every zone from 3-9. All pairings in this guide will work in zones 5-7.

Shrubs for Fall Color

Hydrangea ‘Invincibelle Limetta’ (Native)

Green flowering hydrangea shrub
Invincibelle Limetta® Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘NCHA8’. Photo by Pretty Purple Door

Zones 3-8| 3-4′ H x 3-4’ W | Full-Part Sun
Blooms early summer through fall
Native to North America

‘Invincibelle Limetta’ is a smooth, U.S. native hydrangea. This dwarf shrub with beautiful lime green blooms easily earns its place in any small garden.


You’ll have blooms, blooms and more blooms for months from early summer through fall. Invincibelle Limetta® Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is a dwarf version of the Annabelle Hydrangea. It’s a smooth hydrangea native to North America. Pretty pale green (almost white) reblooming flowers emerge in early summer, brightening to lime green and aging to jade green as the weather cools.

What’s wonderful about Limetta is it’s dwarf size and strong stems that won’t flop over, even under the weight of large blooms. This is one of the most winter hardy of the hydrangeas and it also thrives in urban conditions. Bloom occurs on current season’s growth, so prune as needed in late winter to early spring.

Rose of Sharon ‘Blue Chiffon’

Rose of Sharon 'Blue Chiffon'
Hibiscus syriacus

Rose of Sharon is a abundant bloomer that works well as a corner foundation shrub because of its height. It will also add interest in late summer & fall after many flowering shrubs have already faded.

Amy Fedele, PRetty Purple Door

Zones 5-9| 8-12’ H x 5-6’ W | Full Sun
Blooms mid-summer to fall
Native to Eastern Asia

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is sure to provide some much-needed color to your mid-summer and fall garden. ‘Blue Chiffon‘ boasts blue flowers with lacy centers of light lavender-blue petals give it a semi-double appearance. The flower centers are accented with wine-red hues that streak out from the veins of the petals.

Also take a look at ‘Blushing Bride‘. This variety has pale pink flowers with lacy centers giving its blooms a semi-double appearance.

Wrapping Up

For a 4-season layered landscape, plant your perennial shrubs IN FRONT OF your evergreen shrubs. Evergreen shrubs are the perfect backdrop for these blooming pops of color.

When searching for the perfect perennial shrub, look for ones that have interest in multiple seasons. Maybe it blooms in spring, but has beautiful fall foliage or produces summer berries. Maybe it has a uniquely-colored foliage all year and also has scented blooms. This is especially important in small gardens, where space is extremely limited.

And, be sure to keep reading this guide as we’ll be talking about using perennial plants and flowers in the landscape next!

In my perennial garden plan, I’ll go over landscape layering and give you some suggestions for each of the 5 layers:
Layer 1: Ornamental Trees
Layer 2: Evergreen Shrubs
Layer 3: Perennial Deciduous Shrubs
Layer 4: Perennial plants and flowers
Layer 5: Groundcovers, Vines and Grasses

Shop my Amazon storefront for my essential gardening books & tool recommendations!

More Gardening Posts You’ll Love

Grid with colorful flowering perennial shrubs in blue, pink and yellow.
These flowering bushes and shrubs can add lots of long-lasting color and personality and are large enough to make a big statement. In fact, a lot of the perennial shrubs mentioned bloom for weeks and even months on end for color, fragrance and multi season interest in your landscape. Everyone wants well-behaved flowering shrubs for their landscape, whether it’s front yard curb appeal or backyard shade areas. Choose from pink, purple, blue and yellow flowers.


  1. I love all of your ideas. However I need help layering for a almost completed shaded front landscaping plan. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Camille! Sure— rhododendrons do great in the shade and there are many varieties to choose from… I like the PJMs and they come in a few colors, mostly pinks, purples and whites. Also try hostas, sedum “autumn joy” and cinnamon ferns. My ebook has a lot of ideas if you are interested ( — at the very least grab the plant pairing guide and get on the email list to learn more:

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Hi. I see that some of your recommendations are not native North American plants. Any concerns with invasive species? I have fire bush all over my new yard and while I appreciate the color and how it provides much needed privacy, I’ve been advised here in Indiana to remove it. It certainly has bamboo-like characteristics in that it seems to take over everything.

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for the question… it’s a good one. First, “invasive species” is sort of a tough topic as a species may be invasive in one zone, while fine in another zone. So it really depends on where you live. This may not be in the case in Indiana… but I’d like to point out that firebush, or burning bush, is a pretty general term and there are many varieties that are considered non-invasive. What most nurseries grow and sell today is a variety of burning bush that is known as “Dwarf Compact Burning Bush” (Euonymus Alatus Compacta) not the “Winged Burning Bush” (Euonymus Alatus) which is considered to be more invasive. Calling the former “compact” is really misleading, because it grows to 12 feet tall. This article seems to be really helpful as well is this Indiana invasive plant list. My advice would be to determine whether seedlings are spreading the bushes and causing problems. If they are, you should probably remove them to save you from having to constantly prune and maintain the area. If you do end up removing them, the Red Chokeberry is a good alternative to provide a similar look without the invasive properties. I always recommend using plants that are native to your area and that you can find readily at your local garden center. These are the most likely to thrive in your particular climate. Hope this helps!

    1. Thanks Cheryl, yes I’m in Zone 5 but Zone 3 can be tough to find hardy plants for. I would recommend looking at the Korean Barberry, Golden-Twig Dogwood, Russian Olive, Bush Cinquefoil, Redleaf Rose, Dwarf Purple Osier, Cutleaf Golden Elderberry and Coral Embers Willow. These are all hardy in zone 3 and are great options for deciduous shrubs that have multiple seasons of interest. Hope that helps!

  3. I loved the perennial garden plan that by signing up I was able to download. Unfortunately I didn’t have colored ink in my printer. When I tried to print again it said I was alread a member and wouldn’t allow me to reprint. Can you help me? thanks.

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