Plant shrubs are commonly referred to as bushes and can be flowering or non-flowering. Utilized as a solitary plant or in mass plantings, shrubs have particular functions and come in a wide variety of sizes and color options. Though shrubs can cross over into "small tree" territory, size and shape are varied and can play several different roles in the garden. Utilize plant shrubs based on your garden's needs.
Shrubs are generally considered plants that do not exceed a height of 15 feet, but in low-growing form, they may remain below 3 feet in height. Easily pruned to a desired shape and height, shrubs are a versatile addition to a gardening space since you can control their size. Once near the 15-feet range, shrubs are often referred to as "small trees," but the plant remains the same, regardless of the jargon. "Large shrub" is simply synonymous with "small tree" in the gardening world, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Often utilized as hedges and borders, many shrubs have rapid growth rates and dense structures that offer a solution to spaces in need of privacy or delineation from one area of your gardening space to the next; form these shrubs into any desired shape through pruning. Some shrubs are open and less dense, forming a more sprawling, organic design. As a specimen plant, shrubs with greater aesthetic impact are used on their own to create individualized interest. These shrubs naturally occur in a variety of shapes, including oval, pyramidal and round. Also, low-growing shrubs are used as ground cover; these shrubs form a blanket-like shape and cover a substantial amount of ground with extra depth and interest when compared with a landscape simply covered in grass, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Plant shrubs are multi-stemmed woody plants with a wide variety of foliage options. Deciduous shrubs are those with leaves that usually change to a warmer color from green during the fall season, when they all drop from the plant. Occasionally, deciduous shrubs naturally display other foliage colors such as red. Leaf shape can be linear with smooth edges to round to ovate with serrated edges. Evergreen shrubs are plants with foliage that remains green all year long with leaves that generally stay on the bush, though evergreen shrubs lose a small amount of mature leaves annually, according to the Colorado State University Extension. Evergreens display wide, broad leaves or needle-like leaves.
Evergreen shrubs display small, often inconspicuous flowers in yellow, white, pinks and reds. Deciduous shrubs offer a wide variety of flowers in many colors, shapes and sizes. From the showy, fragrant white flowers of the mock orange shrub, prized for its blooms, to the abundant, aromatic flowers of the common lilac, known for its blue, white, pink or purple blossoms, shrubs are often planted for their showy flowers available in every color of the spectrum with pleasing fragrances, according to the University of Missouri Extension.
Shrubs come in such a wide array of varieties that your best option is to determine your desire for your garden in color, height, function and texture and move on from there. Some widely planted varieties include dwarf flowering almond shrubs (Prunus glandulosa, which display small pink or white flowers and grow to a height of 3 feet. Japanese barberries (Berberis thunbergi) are often used as hedges and display tiny yellow flowers and green leaves that turn red during autumn; barberries grow to a height of 5 feet. Beauty-bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) is a taller variety with an abundance of pink flowers; the shrub grows to a height of 10 feet. One of the tallest varieties is the amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maakii), a fast-growing shrub that displays aromatic white flowers and red berries; amur honeysuckle reaches 15 feet in height, according to the University of Missouri Extension.