Don’t Forget Spring-Flowering Shrubs

When thinking about flowers in their yards, home gardeners may tend to focus on annuals and perennials—which is OK, since those are the mainstays of the garden for blooms—but we should not forget about flowering shrubs. Spring-flowering shrubs will fill larger spaces in your garden, provide a handsome backdrop for smaller plants, and greet you in spring with beautiful blooms year after year.

Be sure to dig a wide enough hole when planting a flowering shrub (at least twice the width of the root ball), but keep the top of the root ball at the same level as the surrounding soil. Planting too deep will result in poor establishment and slow growth. Fill the hole around the plant with a mix of the native soil and a quality amendment.

If you already have flowering shrubs in your yard, now is the time to judiciously prune shrubs that have finished flowering. Pruning any later in the year can affect new growth and next year’s bloom. Popular spring-flowering ornamentals include:

  • Azalea
  • Daphne
  • Deutzia
  • Forsythia
  • Jasmine
  • Lilac
  • Mock orange
  • Mountain laurel
  • Rhododendron
  • Viburnum

Although many shrubs will grow into attractive specimens without ever being pruned, there are good reasons for pruning to enhance the appearance and health of the plant:

  1. Removal of dead, broken, or diseased branches
  2. Correction of structural defects, such as imbalanced growth
  3. Rejuvenation of old shrubs
  4. Providing clearance for sidewalks, utility wires, windows, etc.
  5. Encouragement of new growth and bud production

If you decide to prune a spring-flowering shrub, do it as soon as possible after the blooms wilt, use sharp tools to make clean cuts, and follow experts’ guidelines. Proper pruning can make a significant difference in improving not only the shape of a shrub, but in the production of blossoms as well.