Examples of Bush or Shrub Plants
What Is a Shrub or Bush?
In horticulture, the term "shrub" or "bush" refers to woody plants that have multiple stems emerging from or close to the soil line. There is no scientific difference between trees and shrubs, however shrubs usually tend to have heights under 12 feet, though many are capable of growing larger.
There are many different types of bushes, including evergreen bushes that keep their leaves year-round, flowering shrubs that produce stunning blooms and bushes grown for their fruit.
Evergreen Types of Bushes
There are two types of evergreen bushy plants: needled and broadleaf. Needled evergreens are conifers, which means that they produce their seeds in cones.
Broadleaf Evergreen Shrubs
Examples of broadleaf evergreen shrubs include boxwoods (Buxus spp., zones 5 to 9), of which there are some 150 species and cultivars to choose from. Boxwoods are low maintenance and often pruned into hedges.
Holly (Ilex spp.) is also a broadleaf evergreen, with some species grown in shrub form, including the Japanese holly (Ilex crenata, zones 5 to 10), which is similar in appearance to boxwoods, and the inkberry (Ilex glabra, zones 4 to 9).
Needled Evergreen Shrubs
The mugo pine (Pinus mugo, zones 2 to 7), a species in the pine family, grows as a shrub or a tree. As a shrub, it has heights between 15 and 20 feet. The mugo pine is wider than it is tall, with spreads between 25 and 30 feet.
Another needled evergreen, creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis, zones 3 to 9), has maximum heights of less than 2 feet and can therefore be used as ground cover.
Flowering Bush Plants
Now let's take a look at some of the bushes that also produce flowers.
These shrubs produce flowers prior to mid-June, on wood that emerged the previous year, known as old wood. These shrubs need to be pruned immediately after flowering to avoid removing next year's flower buds.
Lilacs (Syringa spp.) are a popular type of spring-flowering shrub. Lilac species and cultivars come in various shades of pink, purple and magenta, as well as white. The common lilac (Syringa vulgaris, zones 3 to 7) is a large shrub, with heights between 12 and 16 feet.
Fothergillas (Fothergilla spp.) are another group of spring-flowering shrubs, prized for their bottlebrush-like blooms. Like lilacs, fothergillas are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves at the end of the growing season, but not before offering spectacular fall color in shades of red, orange and yellow.
Shrubs that produce their blooms in the summer on the current year's growth, known as new wood, are pruned in late winter or early spring.
Some species of hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.) bloom in the summer, including the smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens, zones 3 to 9) and the panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata, zones 3 to 8).
The rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, zones 5 to 8), which is not a rose but rather a type of hibiscus, is also a summer-flowering shrub. This shrub grows in a vase shape and has five-petaled flowers that are pink with red eyes.
Fruit-Producing Bushes to Plant
While many bushes are grown as ornamentals, others are cultivated primarily for their edible fruit, including currants and gooseberries (Ribes spp.), which take one to three years to produce berries. One notable species is the red currant (Ribes rubrum, zones 3 to 7). Gooseberry shrubs have thorns, while currant bushes do not.
Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) also grow on shrubs. The highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum, zones 5 to 8) has heights between 6 and 12 feet, while the lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium, zones 2 to 8) is usually less than 2 feet tall.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Blogs - What is the difference between a tree and a shrub?
- Utah State University Forestry Extension: What is a Tree?
- PennState Extension: How and When to Prune Flowering Shrubs
- NC State Extension: Buxus
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Juniperus horizontalis
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Fothergilla
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Hydrangea arborescens
- University of Minnesota Extension: Growing Currants and Gooseberries in the Home garden
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Vaccinium corymbosum
- NC State Extension: Vaccinium angustifolium
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Ilex crenata
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Pinus mugo
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.