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Landscape Shrubs for South Facing Exposure

By Alicia Rudnicki ; Updated September 21, 2017
Sunny, south-facing areas require shrubs that aren't too thirsty.
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South-facing exposures are hot and dry, which means shrubs requiring lots of moisture or occasional shade should not be planted there. Realtors often say the most important rule in buying a house is "Location, location, location." The same imperative governs successful landscaping. But it isn't enough to select the right bushes. Gardeners need to plant them in loamy soil rich with organic matter, water frequently until roots are well-established and mulch to retain moisture.

Beach Plum

Beach plums (Prunus maritima) are native to North America and were among the first plants that colonists found upon arrival in the 1600s. The shrub is prized for abundant white blossoms and tiny, tart fruit used in jams, jellies and brandies. It grows up to 6 feet tall, prefers full sun to partial shade and is cold hardy to US Department of Agriculture zones 3a to 6b. Although it does well in sandy soils, it also thrives in loam.

Spreading Cotoneaster

Spreading cotoneaster (Cotoneaster divaricatus) works well as hedges, on slopes and trained up a wall espalier-style. It grows throughout USDA zones 4 to 7. Deciduous, its foliage turns yellow and red to purple in the autumn. In spring, it is covered with small, white-to-pink blossoms that become bright red, egg-shaped fruits.

Spreading cotoneaster grows up to 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide. The Missouri Botanical Garden notes that while it likes moist, loamy soil that is well-drained, the shrub tolerates poor soils and withstands drought.

Flowering Quince

Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), which is native to China, is lavish with blossoms for a short time. The various cultivars have apricot, scarlet and white flowers that bloom for about two weeks in spring and transform into small, tart, apple-like fruit that is edible and attractive to wildlife.

The shrub's height of 6 to 8 feet matches its width. Dry soil is okay, but flowering quince prefers moist, well-drained conditions. It grows in USDA zones 4 to 8. Its tangled, thorny stems make a good barrier hedge.

Summersweet Clethra

As its name implies, summersweet clethra (Clethra alnifolia) is fragrant and blossoms during summer. It grows in many parts of the US from the Northeast and Southeast through the Midwest and Northwest. The small spikes of this deciduous shrub's flowers are white or pink and bloom from July through August. They are attractive to bees and butterflies and can grow up to 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Summersweet is flexible: it will put up with salty soils and conditions ranging from dry to boggy, but does best in slightly acidic soil.


About the Author


Alicia Rudnicki's Library Mix website blends book buzz for all ages. A gardener, she writes for California's Flowers by the Sea nursery. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from UC Berkeley, a Master of Arts in education from CU Denver, and has taught K-12.