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The Best Shrubs for the Southeast

atumum read bush image by Lovrencg from

The southeast United States falls into USDA winter Hardiness Zones 6 to 10, meaning the temperature during winter rarely dips below -5 degrees F. This gives plants the advantage of a long growing season that lasts from February or March until November or December each year. The Atlantic Ocean surrounds the bottom right corner of the United States, creating an area of mild temperatures and climate that encourages plant growth.


Honeycup (Zenobia pulverulenta) is a deciduous shrub reaching 3 to 6 feet in height and spreading equally wide. Arching branches are covered with gray-green, waxy leaves 2 to 3 inches long. The leaves turn yellow-orange with a violet tint in the fall. Small white blossoms hang down from the branches like tiny bells, and they give off a licorice scent when disturbed.


Inkberry (Ilex glabra) is a shrub that is found in swamps and overly wet areas. This upright bush reaches up to 8 feet in height. The dusty green oval leaves are 1 to 2 inches long with two notches in the edges. Inkberry blooms in June with small white blossoms. The male plants produce flower clusters while the female plants have single blossoms. Small black berries appear in September. There are white berry types of inkberry as well.

Mountain Doghobble

Mountain doghobble (Leucothoe fontanesiana) is a broadleaf evergreen shrub growing 3 to 6 feet tall. New leaves sprout red or bronze color, turning shiny, dark green as they age. The leathery leaves cover the branches. Mountain doghobble leaves turn burgundy-purple in the fall when planted in full sun. Small, white, urn-shaped blossoms appear in May. They form groups of blooms hidden by the foliage.

New Jersey Tea

New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a deciduous shrub that tolerates hot arid areas. This bush grows 3 to 4 feet tall. The green oval leaves grow along the main stem and at the ends of the branches. Tiny, white bell-shaped blossoms form round clusters in the summer. New Jersey tea is not aromatic.


Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is a deciduous shrub that grows slowly to the height of 12 feet. Green, oval leaves with tapered tips crowd along the shrub's branches. The leaves turn golden yellow in autumn in cooler temperatures. Tiny, yellow blossoms appear in the early spring before the leaves arrive. Small, red berries develop in September.

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