You have a very small space, perhaps just a patio, yet you still want to grow shrubs. Or maybe you have a good-size yard, but it’s filled to the max. Your significant other has even made threats that start with: “If you buy one more plant, I’ll.…” Or perhaps you just like small shrubs because they’re so darn cute! It doesn’t matter what your story is: Nearly everyone can find a use for a small shrub. So many kinds are available that it may seem impossible to choose just one or two, but you’ll certainly have fun trying. Use our picks as your guide to the best small shrubs for small spaces.
Via Bailey Nurseries
Small Shrubs: Sapphire Surf Bluebeard
(Caryopteris x clandonensis, Zones 5 to 9)
Many perennials will outgrow this small shrub, which is just 2 feet tall. Grow it as an accent plant, or group several together for a bigger impact. Sapphire Surf Bluebeard blooms endlessly in full sun.
Why we love it: You can’t beat these blooms. The purplish-blue flowers are absolutely gorgeous.
Check out 10 dwarf flowering shrubs for containers.
Via First Editions Plants
(Cornus cericea, Zones 2 to 7)
Dogwood comes in many shapes and sizes, so consider adding a compact variety to your backyard. This Firedance cultivar is true to its name, with reddish-purple foliage in fall. It grows only 3 or 4 feet high and prefers full sun. This shrub is a good choice for moist soil, slopes and rain gardens.
Why we love it: In addition to those glowing leaves, its pretty white berries give it four-season appeal.
Don’t miss these blooming bushes that attract butterflies.
Coral Beauty Cotoneaster
(Cotoneaster dammeri, Zones 5 to 8)
With small fragrant white flowers in early summer, and coral berries in fall and winter, this low-growing small shrub shines for months. Coral Beauty (above) grows just 1 to 2 feet tall and has dense glossy, dark green foliage.
Why we love it: In addition to all that color, the birds will love the abundant berries.
Via First Editions Plants
Love Child Sweetspire
(Itea virginica, Zones 6 to 9)
If you’re looking to save a lot of space, look for the Little Henry sweetspire cultivar, growing just 18 to 24 inches high. For a little more height and lovely fragrant blooms, go for Love Child (above). It grows 3 to 4 feet.
Why we love it: The shape of the flowers—long 3-inch panicles—is distinctive and delightful.
Psst—here’s even more pretty flowering bushes for your yard.
Via Endless Summer Hydrangeas
Summer Crush Bigleaf Hydrangea
(Hydrangea macrophylla, Zones 4 to 9)
Some hydrangeas grow tall while others are compact, but all boast beautiful blooms. The pink Summer Crush hydrangea (above) has gardeners excited. Grow it in full sun to partial shade; this small shrub reaches between 18 inches and 3 feet tall.
Why we love it: A petite hydrangea with raspberry red blooms: Need we say more?
Psst—we found more breathtaking hydrangea species you need in your garden.
Tor Birchleaf Spirea
(Spiraea betulifolia, Zones 4 to 8)
You can find a slew of compact spirea, but this Tor cultivar (above) is one of our favorites. It starts off with bright green new growth. Then come white summer flowers, and after that the leaves turn orange, red and purple in fall.
Why we love it: Deer tend to leave it alone.
Love fall foliage? Check out the best fall shrubs to grow.
Via First Editions Plants
Cool Splash Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle
(Diervilla lonicera, Zones 4 to 7)
You won’t have to worry about disease or insect problems with this honeysuckle shrub. Look for the variegated cultivar Cool Splash (above). It’s very hardy, even in cold climates, and can take dry, sandy soils as well. It grows up to 4 1/2 feet tall, with variegated foliage and yellow flowers in the summer.
Why we love it: It’s similar to honeysuckle without invasive problems, and it’s a prolific summer bloomer that attracts butterflies.
Check out more alternatives to invasive shrubs.
Clethra Hummingbird Summersweet
(Clethra alnifolia, Zones 4 to 9)
This popular small shrub is known for its fragrance, shade tolerance and bright summer blooms. Most clethras grow 8 to 12 feet, but now you can have this beauty in your own small space with this compact version, which reaches only 2 to 3 feet.
Why we love it: It will tolerate some shade—ideal for gardeners with lots of dark areas in their backyard.
Check out easy-to-grow plants to add color to your shade garden.
(Fothergilla gardenii, Zones 4 to 9)
Growing just 2 to 3 feet tall, these bushy, low-growing shrubs are striking when grouped together along a border in full sun or partial shade. Look for showy blooms in spring, green leaves in summer, and yellow, red and orange leaves in fall. Grow it in full sun to part shade, and in rich, moist, acidic soil.
Why we love it: You’ll get three-season appeal with this beautiful small shrub.
Check out the top 10 dwarf conifers for small spaces.
Lo & Behold Butterfly Bush
(Buddleia, Zones 5 to 9)
We love this dwarf noninvasive butterfly bush. Try cultivar Blue Chip. (above). It’s a very small shrub, growing only 2 feet tall and wide, making it a perfect choice for gardeners who love the blooms of butterfly bush but don’t have much space. Plant in full sun.
Why we love it: The lavender-blue flowers are heavenly, blooming from summer to frost.
Next, get expert tips on how to plant shrubs and bushes.