How to Care for Garden Shrubs


Shrubs are no longer the plant gardeners hide in the background. With all the varieties to choose from, shrubs can now take a front row seat as a specimen. Many varieties such as firebush and hibiscus are not only colorful additions to the landscape, but they also attract birds and butterflies. Caring for your shrubs is easy, and if you consider their needs before planting, they will thrive and be healthy.

Step 1

Consult the USDA Hardiness Zone Map (see resources) to determine which shrubs to grow in your landscape. The map will help you in deciding which species of plants will grow best in your region and tolerate your local weather conditions.

Step 2

Select a variety of shrub that will perform well in the light, soil, temperature and water conditions where you will be growing it. Do not plant a shrub such as an ixora, which performs and flowers best in full to partial sun and is relatively drought tolerant, in an area situated in full shade and that retains water.

Step 3

Grow your shrubs in a rich soil medium that drains well. Most shrubs grow best in well draining soils amended with an organic material such as compost, manure or peat moss. Work the organic material approximately one foot deep into the soil before you plant the shrub.

Step 4

Mulch around the shrub to help the soil retain moisture, add organic material to the soil as the mulch breaks down, make the planting area look nicer, and decrease the growth of unwanted vegetation. Apply a fresh application of mulch yearly.

Step 5

Fertilize the shrub regularly and according to the variety's special requirements. Shrubs such as hibiscus will grow and flower best if given an application of fertilizer in the spring, summer and early fall. Most shrubs will require an application of fertilizer three to four times per year, equally divided between the months.

Step 6

Water newly planted shrubs regularly during the first two to three weeks to keep the planting site moist. Depending on your local weather conditions, most shrubs will then require water once to twice as week. Most shrubs become more drought tolerant as they become established.

Step 7

Prune your shrubs to keep them under control, make them look esthetically pleasing and to promote more blooms. Shrubs such as hibiscus require a heavy pruning in early spring to promote more blossoms and control its size, as it is a fast grower. Shrubs such as natal plums grow slower and require less pruning.

Step 8

Treat your shrubs with insecticide products designed for use on that particular species and the insect or problem.

Things You'll Need

  • USDA Hardiness Zone Map
  • Compost
  • Manure
  • Peat moss
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Water
  • Pruning tools


  • Garden Crossing: Caring for Your Shrubs
  • Women's Life: Choosing Easy-Care Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: shrub care, shrub maintenance, growing shrubs

About this Author

Joyce Starr is a freelance writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawncare, gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.