Flowering bushes are used for hedges, boundaries, specimen plantings and wildlife shelter. Every part of the United States has flowering bushes that are native to that area and can be grown without a lot of extra maintenance. Although some improved varieties of blooming shrubs bloom several times during the year, most blooming bushes bloom once during the growing season. Some varieties produce colorful berries or fruit after the bloom period.
Azalea (Rhododendron) is a flowering shrub popular in USDA horticultural zones 5 to 9. Azaleas prefer moist acidic soil and will not live in alkaline soils without soil amendments that lower the pH to between 5.5 and 6.0. They bloom in early spring in a wide range of colors. Azaleas thrive in dappled shade under deciduous trees as long as they receive sufficient moisture for their shallow root system. There are improved varieties of azaleas that bloom several times during the summer. In all cases, prune azaleas for shape after each bloom period.
Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia) is a woody shrub that is one of the first plants to bloom in spring. It produces yellow flowers up and down its woody stems. When exposed to warm indoor temperatures, its colorful buds open. Forsythia thrives in average garden soil in full sun or partial shade. The branches should be cut back by one-third after blooming to encourage new growth and more blooms the following season. It's a good idea to plant forsythia in the back of the garden, as the foliage can become unattractive during the summer heat. Forsythia is appropriate for planting in USDA horticultural zones 5 to 9.
Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris), a popular shrub throughout the United States, blooms in early summer. It thrives in full sun when planted in well-drained, average garden soil. Lilac flowers are sweet smelling. It's a good idea to prune after the flowers have faded. The green, heart-shaped leaves of the lilac are attractive until fall. The common lilac is appropriate for planting in USDA horticultural zones 4 to 7. Because it needs to be exposed to cool temperatures in the winter to encourage blooming, it will grow in warmer zones, but will not bloom.
Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) has large round pink, blue or white flowers--which are actually panicles made up of hundreds of smaller flowers. The hydrangea is a popular flowering shrub in southern landscapes and prefers morning sun and afternoon shade. All varieties like regular watering and can experience "hydrangea wilt" during the hottest part of the day if planted in direct sun. An interesting feature of hydrangeas is that blue flowers are produced if the bush is planted in acidic soil, and pink flowers are produced if the bush is planted in alkaline soil. The hydrangea bush is appropriate for planting in USDA Horticultural zones 6 to 9.