According to the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, Pennsylvania contains hardiness zones 4 through 7. While some shrubs will grow anywhere in the state, others only thrive in zones 5 and 6, the two largest zones. Plant shrubs that are appropriate for the hardiness zone of your area and that fit into your landscaping plans.
Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is a deciduous shrub that grows from 3 to 5 feet tall. The shrub produces dark green leaves that grow from 2 to 8 inches long and 2 to 5 inches wide and turn a pale yellow in the fall. The white or pink flowers appear in June, grow in clusters that measure 4 to 6 inches across and last until fall when they are replaced by a dry fruit that will last through the winter. Grow smooth hydrangea in partial shade in zone 6 in Pennsylvania.
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is also known as northern spicebush. The shrub grows from 6 to 12 feet tall and produces glossy, egg-shaped leaves that are dark green on top, lighter green on the bottom, and golden yellow in the fall. The leaves grow up to 6 inches long and 2-1/2 inches wide. The yellow or white flowers appear in April, grow in umbrella- shaped clusters and turn into a glossy red fruit that is the spice nutmeg in the fall. Spicebush likes any type of sun condition and any type of soil. The plant is a favorite of butterflies and birds and is hardy in zone 6 in Pennsylvania.
American elder (Sambucus canadensis) is also known as elderberry and sweet elder. It grows from 10 to 15 feet tall with a similar width. The plant produces dense thickets with palm-like leaves that grow up to 1 foot long and turn yellow, orange and red in the fall. The white, star-shaped flowers grow in flat-topped clusters up to 10 inches across from spring through summer. The blue-black berries are used to make wine and jelly and the flowers are used in the making of perfume and other wines. The berries are also a favorite food for the local bird population. Plant American elder in full sun and soil that is dry to moist. This hardy tree is appropriate for planting in all areas of Pennsylvania.
Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) grows to at least 3 to 5 feet tall. The plant produces leathery leaves that are dark green on top, light green on the bottom and orange, burgundy and purple in the fall. The leaves grow from 1 to 3 inches long and up to 2 inches wide. The small, white clusters of flowers appear for only a week in May and are followed by clusters of purple-black fruit from September through December. Black chokeberry produces the most flowers and fruit when it is planted in full sun and a soil that is dry to moist, but not wet. Black chokeberry grows well in all areas of Pennsylvania.