Bushes and shrubs perform many functions in the garden, from acting as privacy screens to standing alone as specimen plants in the garden. Whether you're looking to cover large areas with greenery or to bring butterflies to your yard, there is a common, easy-to-find shrub to suit your purpose.
The butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), a flowering shrub native to northwestern China and Japan, blooms in late spring until fall. The fast-growing plant reaches a maximum height of about 15 feet, though it is frequently smaller. Butterfly bush comes alive with dense clusters of small, butterfly attracting blooms in colors ranging from white to pink and purple. Butterfly bush is a common sight in USDA zones 5 to 10. Butterfly bush is fairly drought tolerant, preferring an average, well-drained soil and only an occasional watering. The shrub can be cultivated in either full sunlight or partial sun with good results. Deadheading spent flowers will help prolong the plant's butterfly attracting blooms.
Versatile and traditional, English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) is a landscaping shrub that has been used to create hedges and screens for hundreds of years in England and other parts of Europe. English laurel boasts glossy oval leaves and a compact habit. In the spring, the plant produces small white blooms that are delicately fragrant. English laurel is ideal for those looking to fill a shady area, as the plant will grow in complete shade (as well as full sunlight). English laurel is best suited to cultivation in USDA zones 6A to 8B. The plant isn't picky about soil pH, but it should be watered regularly for best results.
Common lantana (Lantana camara) is an easy to grow tropical evergreen shrub. The plant is a common sight in Florida, where some species have become invasive. The shrub boasts dense green foliage accented by globular clusters of small, butterfly attracting flowers. Some cultivars may have multiple flower colors on one bush, exhibiting pink, orange and yellow blooms. Common lantana grows best in USDA zones 8 to 11, in partial or full sun. The plant prefers a well-drained soil, as it is quite drought tolerant and requires very little supplemental watering. Use caution in homes with children or pets, as the berries of the plant are extremely toxic.