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Native Shrubs of Maine

pussy-willow and sky image by ELEN from

Maine's landscape and climate support a variety of native shrubs. Woodland shrubs grow in the forests and mountainous areas of the state, while wetland shrubs thrive in the swamps and coastal areas. These native shrubs are well-suited to local conditions, and the blooms, berries and foliage often attract native wildlife seeking food and shelter.

Pussy Willow

Salix discolor, commonly known as pussy willow, grows up to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide. The flexible twigs bear oval, 2-inch-long leaves and fuzzy, silvery yellow catkins in late winter and early spring. Native to swamps and wetlands, pussy willow grows best in areas where the soil remains consistently wet. Plant this shrub in cool, well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade. Cut back once every other year to encourage new growth. Do not plant pussy willow near septic systems or storm drains because the water-seeking roots may grow into the pipes.

Virginia Rose

Rosa virginiana, or Virginia rose, grows 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide and works well as a hedge or barrier in the home landscape. In early summer, five-petaled pink flowers with yellow centers bloom from the stiff canes. The initial burst of blooms will fade but flowers continue to appear sporadically throughout the summer and early fall. The leathery, shiny leaves turn deep red in the fall, and scarlet fruits persist into winter. Virginia rose grows wild along woodland edges, thickets and dunes and performs well in full sun and moist to dry soil. The flowers bloom from new growth, so do not prune in winter. This disease-resistant and drought-tolerant shrub requires little maintenance once established.


The hardy and adaptable Diervilla lonicera, or bush-honeysuckle, grows wild in rocky soils and forest openings throughout the northern United States. Clusters of tubular yellow flowers that bloom at the tips of the arching stems in summer through early fall attract hummingbirds. The flowers, which fade to red after pollination, have five petals that extend out and curl backward. Bush-honeysuckle grows to 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide and can overtake small gardens. It makes a dramatic statement in mass plantings or on banks. Plant bush-honeysuckle in moist or dry, well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade. It will grow in full shade but needs sun to flower.


The greenish gray branches of Buttonbush, or Cephalanthus occidentalis, grow to 6 feet tall with whorls of glossy, dark green leaves. In summer, round puffs of creamy white flowers bloom from the tips of the branches, attracting butterflies with their nectar. Native to swamps and stream banks, buttonbush does not tolerate drought and grows best in wet soil or standing water. Plant in full sun or light shade in wetland gardens or at the edge of a pond and provide moderate fertilization in the spring. If cut back to 6 to 12 inches high in winter, buttonbush will grow 3 to 4 feet before flowering.

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