The fastest way to enhance your landscape and boost your bloom count is to plant easy-care flowering shrubs now. A springtime trim is all that’s required for a veritable flurry of petals from early summer until frost. Here are four we love.
Four low-maintenance flowering shrubs we love
Invincibelle Series smooth hydrangea ( Hydrangeaarborescens
[Invincibelle Series] cultivars), Zone 3 Invincibelle Series hydrangeas are similar to traditional ‘Annabelle’ types but bear larger blooms on stronger stems. Available in five colours, they flower continuously from midsummer to frost. Growing best in good garden loam in a sunny location, they should be pruned to within five centimetres of their bases in late winter or early spring.
Invincibelle Spirit II (‘NCHA2’) bears pink flowers that age to green, while Invincibelle Ruby (‘NCHA3’) produces bicoloured ruby and silver-pink blooms; both grow 90 centimetres tall and wide. Dwarf Invincibelle Wee White (‘NCHA5’) grows 50 centimetres tall and wide with white flowers that age to pale pink and green. Mini Mauvette (‘NCHA7’) bears mauve blooms, while Limetta (‘NCHA8’) opens with cool lime flowers that fade to icy greenish-white and then mature to a deep jade; both grow 75 centimetres tall and wide.
Double Play Series Japanese spirea ( Spiræajaponica [Double
Play Series] cvs.), Zone 4 Embraced by gardeners for their pink, red and purple flowers that appear midsummer after many shrubs have stopped blooming, Double Play cultivars grow about 60 centimetres tall and wide and prefer a sunny site in good garden loam. They should be pruned back to about 30 centimetres tall in early spring.
We love Double Play Painted Lady (‘Minspi’) for its variegated yellow and green foliage and hot-pink flowers, as well as Double Play Candy Corn (‘NCSX1’), which produces leaves that open red and then fade to yellow; summer foliage emerges orange and is crowned with purple flowers. The foliage of Double Play Pink (‘SMNSJMFP’) and Double Play Red (‘SMNSJMFR’) emerges red but turns green by flowering time. Pink-flowered Double Play Big Bang (‘Tracy’) has golden foliage and bears up to 200 flowers in each eight-centimetre-wide cluster.
Korean abelia ( Abelia mosanensis and cvs.), Zone 4 Prized for its ethereally scented pale pink flowers, Korean abelia blooms in late spring. Growing 1.5 metres tall by one metre wide, Abelia mosanensis and its cultivars prosper in average garden loam in full-sun to part-shade locations. Flowering primarily on new wood, shrubs should be pruned immediately after blooming to maintain an elegant vase-shaped habit; autumn foliage turns brilliant orange-red.
Attractive to butterflies and honeybees, Korean abelia is deer- and rabbit-resistant. To fully appreciate their fragrance, site these bushes under open windows or pop several branches into a vase to perfume your home. In addition to the species form, look for vigorous ‘Korean Spring’ (2.5 x 1.8 metres), semidwarf Bridal Bouquet (‘Monia’) as well as jasminescented Sweet Emotion (‘SMNAMDS’).
Happy Face Series potentilla
( Potentillafruticosa cvs.), Zone 2 Famous for their long season of bloom, potentillas bear single or semidouble flowers with white, pink, yellow or orange-red petals. Most cultivars grow 60 to 70 centimetres tall and wide and should be sited in a sunny location in average garden loam. Potentillas bloom on new wood and should be pruned to shape in early spring.
Use potentillas as long-flowering accents in flowerbeds or foundation plantings, in shrub borders, as low hedges or in containers where they can be overwintered in situ without protection in Zone 5 or warmer. Our favourites include semidouble Happy Face Pink Paradise (‘Kupinpa’), golden Happy Face Yellow (‘Lundy’), pleasantly cool Happy Face White (‘White Lady’) and Manitoba-bred Mango Tango (‘Uman’), which bears orange flowers with vermillion centres.