Shrubs work well as hedges, along borders or as single specimens planted wherever they fit in best. A variety of shrubs thrive in shade while others require full sun. Space requirements play a big role in helping gardeners decide what to plant as shrubs range in size from small bushes to large, almost tree-like heights.
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Showy fall colors makes Japanese barberry an attractive shrub for gardens in hardiness zones 4 to 9. The thorny plant also works well for barrier planting. Japanese barberry grows up to 6 feet high and up to 7 feet wide. The plant takes pruning well, making it easy to use in hedges. In the spring, the plant produces white flowers followed by small red fruits that birds find very attractive. In autumn, the leaves turn beautiful hues of orange, yellow and red.
Camellia (Camellia japonica)
The beautiful blooms covering a camellia bush provide added color in the off-season. Camellias grow from a few feet to 12 feet high in hardiness zones 7 to 9. The evergreen shrub features 4-inch long, leathery-looking leaves with flowers appearing from September into April, depending on the variety. The flowers come in shades of white, pink, red and purple, appearing as single, semi-double or double blooms. Camillias require slightly acidic, well-drained soil in sheltered areas with partial sun.
Border Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)
The bright yellow flowers appearing in March and April make border forsythia easily recognizable in hardiness zones 5 to 8. Growing up to 10 feet high and spreading to 12 feet wide, the fast-growing forsythia features yellow flowers more than an inch long in clusters of two to six blooms. The flowers last for several weeks followed by small brown fruits that birds find edible. Forsythia thrives in almost any well-drained soil as long as it receives full sun to produce a maximum number of blooms.
Common Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Common winterberry, a native of eastern and central United States, grows along the woods or near swamps where it often reaches 10 feet high. Grown in hardiness zones 4 to 9, the plant gets its name from the bright red fruits that stay on the bush far into winter, providing a much-desired food resource for over-wintering birds and small mammals. The plant thrives in slightly acidic, well-drained soil in full to partial sun.
Butterfly Bush (Buddleja lindleyana)
Gardeners who want to attract butterflies have an ally in the butterfly bush. The bush grows up to 6 feet high and features a profusion of blooms that draws butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects. The shrub grows in hardiness zones 5 to 9 where it easily grows up to 10 feet tall and wide in just two growing seasons. The fragrant plant blooms from June through October if deadheaded. Abundant flowers appear in shades of white, blue, lavender, pink, purple and yellow. Butterfly bush requires well-drained soil and full sun.