Shrubs are plants that have developed multiple stems. Many shrubs would have developed into trees in different environmental conditions. Shrubs are planted for various purposes such as groundcover and privacy, as well as to add dimension to the landscape. Shrub shapes are sometimes unusual or artistic, when they are pruned into the artwork known as topiaries.
Shrubs are either evergreen or deciduous. Deciduous shrubs lose their leaves in the winter and grow their leaves back in the spring, while evergreen shrubs keep their leaves all year long. Evergreen shrubs are classified as broadleaved shrubs and narrow leaved shrubs. The narrow-leaved shrubs have leaves that are shaped like needles. While these shrubs do not lose all of their leaves at once, they lose some leaves throughout the year, causing needles or other leaves to be found on the ground.
Shrubs come in different heights and widths and the size of the shrub is often determined by how you prune it. A plant that becomes taller than 15 feet is no longer considered a shrub, according to Virginia State University. Shrubs need to be pruned regularly or else they will grow in all directions, with new growths appearing at the edges of the branches.
Shrubs' multiple stems are created as a result of suckers that spring up from the ground. Suckers, also called basal shoots, are new areas of plant growth that emerge from the root system. Some of these suckers can eventually become thick and old, causing the twigs to become a duller color.
Flowers usually develop on shrubs, eventually covering the entire shrub. The flowers are bright initially and then start to fade over time. Shrubs with flowers in the spring include the forsythia, azaleas, rhododendrons and lilacs. Summer flowering shrubs include mountain laurel and the Rose of Sharon. To ensure that flowering shrubs bloom, prune the shrub right after the flowers have bloomed.
Shrubs, usually evergreens, are sometimes shaped into hedges, which are designed to block views into a home, or into artwork known as topiaries. Topiaries can be shaped into geometric shapes like spheres and cubes. Other topiaries are made into animals or have had faces carved into them. Evergreens can also be turned into topiary mazes.