How to Identify Yellow Flowering Shrubs
There are many different species of shrubs with yellow flowers that add cheer to the landscape. These species bloom at different times, making it possible to enjoy yellow flowering bushes year round.
Knowing which yellow-flowering shrubs are in bloom during the current season can help identify these plants.
Yellow Spring-Flowering Bushes
Some types of shrubs produce yellow spring flowers. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Native to Asia, forsythia shrubs (Forsythia spp., USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8) produce clusters of bell-shaped, bright yellow flowers in early spring, before the plants' foliage emerges. These rapidly growing shrubs can reach heights between 8 and 10 feet.
Cultivated in Japan but native to China, the Japanese mahonia (Mahonia japonica, zones 6 to 8) blooms in late winter and early spring. Also known as the Oregon grape-holly, this species produces yellow flowers on racemes that may be between 4 and 8 inches long.
Japanese mahonia shrubs have heights between 5 and 7 feet. The leaves of this drought-tolerant shrub resemble those of holly.
Lydia broom (Genista lydia, zones 5 to 9) is a yellow flowering shrub native to the Balkans, Turkey and Syria. This plant blooms in late spring and early summer. A member of the legume family, it produces yellow pea-like flowers.
Lydia broom is a drought-tolerant shrub with heights under 2 feet. Because it is a legume, it can fix nitrogen and therefore grow in poor soils.
Some yellow flowering shrubs are summer bloomers. Here are a few species in this category.
Shrubs with yellow flowers that bloom in the spring include the shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa, zones 3 to 7), which is native to the northern hemisphere and has heights between 2 and 4 feet.
This species produces saucer-shaped flowers that are 1.5 inches in length and have five petals each. The compound leaves are blue-green in color.
Though this species can handle partial shade, its flowers look best when it is grown in full sun.
Shrubby St. John's Wort
Another shrub with yellow flowers that blooms in the summer is the shrubby St. John's wort (Hypericum pyramidatum, zones 4 to 8). Its 1-inch-wide yellow flowers with five petals appear in July and August. The flowers have many eye-catching yellow stamens in the center.
This species is native to North America.
Shrubby St. John's wort can be identified by its numerous showy yellow stamens.
Fall- and Winter-Blooming Shrubs
Shrubs with yellow flowers can brighten up the landscape in the fall and winter when most other flowering plants are dormant. Here are some options.
Common Witch Hazel
Common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana, zones 3 to 9) is a deciduous shrub that blooms in the fall and winter. Native to eastern North America, this species produces spider-like yellow flowers, each with four thin petals that can be compared to ribbons.
The common witch hazel may have heights between 15 and 20 feet. The leaves of this plant turn an attractive yellow color in the fall.
The common witch hazel has spidery yellow flowers with four ribbon-like petals each.
The butterfly bush (Senna bicapsularis, zones 9 to 11) gets its name from its golden yellow flowers, which bloom in the fall and winter and resemble butterflies. This species is also known as winter cassia and Christmas bush.
This low-maintenance, semi-evergreen shrub has heights between 8 and 12 feet and is native to South America.
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Witch Hazel
- North Carolina State Extension: Hamamelis virginiana
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Hamamelis virginiana
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Cassia Bicapularis, Butterfly Bush
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Potentilla fruticosa
- University of Minnesota Extension: Forsythia
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Mahonia japonica
- North Carolina State Extension: Genista lydia
- North Carolina State Extension: Senna bicapsularis
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Hypericum prolificum
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.