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Deciduous shrubs are a must in any garden or yard. Even if you have no room for trees, shrubs can offer similar shade, beauty and interest to your landscape. Some have interesting fruit and leaves that bring color, texture and wildlife to your planting area throughout the year. Deciduous shrubs maybe bare and twiggy during winter, but some shrubs, specifically many dogwoods, have interesting colored stems that are visible during this season.
Definition of Deciduous Shrubs
Shrubs usually woody stemmed, whose leaves turn to different colors before they are shed at the end of the growing season. They will have no leaves at all for part of the year. Note; there are some species that do not shed all their leaves at once when they live in a warmer hardiness zone, but will shed them all during a severe winter, or during a winter if they live in a colder zone. These are called Semi-evergreens.
Example List of Deciduous Shrubs
Hydrangeas(hydrangea) come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Despite their differences, hydrangeas have three things in common; they prefer rich soil and a steady supply of moisture; the farther south you go, the more shade you should give them. Although the tags found in nurseries often recommend planting in full sun, hydrangeas usually wilt under too much direct sun. Instead, give them shade, especially if you live in the South.
Hydrangeas usually have large leaves and so are coarse-textured. Their flowers are the most striking feature, appearing anywhere from late spring to early summer and often lasting several weeks. Flowers of certain hydrangeas may be pink or blue depending on the pH of the soil. To produce pink flowers, raise the soil's pH with lime. Lower the soil pH with sulfur to produce blue flowers. Zones 4 to 9, depending on the species.
Deciduous barberries such as Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow' or one of the many yellow-leaved forms can add color to the landscape for the entire growing season. Some are hardy to zone 3, depending on species but most Berberis thunbergii are zones 4 to 8.
Dogwoods (Cornus), a family that includes several shrub forms and a wide variety of colors, including variegated varieties such as a Siberian dogwood. Fothergilla in its dwarf form makes a great three-season shrub. Its spring flowers are dramatic, and fall foliage is a brilliant yellow, orange or red. Zones 2 to 8.
Japanese Maples (acer palmatum) which can be grown as a shrub or small tree reaching heights of 6 - 10 m, often growing as an understory plant in shady woodlands. It may have multiple trunks / branches joining close to the rootball, thus being able to define it as a shrub.
Lilacs (syringa) are hard to beat for spring fragrance and beauty, and now there are many to choose from. The Korean species is mildew-resistant. Zones 3 to 9.
Staghorn Sumacs (rhus typhina) are deciduous shrubs, which produce fern-like foliage that turns an intense scarlet color in the fall. Some people shun these shrubs because of their weedy, wild relatives or their cousins poison sumac, poison ivy and poison oak; however, these are neither weedy nor poisonous, and they look and grow great in either sun or shade. Zones 4 to 8.
Viburnums (viburnum) look a lot like hydrangeas, and early botanists often confused one for the other. They too are dynamite deciduous shrubs that range in height from three to 10 feet or more and produce fabulous and often intensely fragrant flowers. Their foliage is interesting as well and has textures that range from almost fuzzy to smooth and glossy. Colors range from green to gray to red. Zones 3 to 9, depending on the species.
Weigelas (weigela) are making a comeback, and they're now available with several leaf colors as well as one variegated form. Their flowers are favorites of hummingbirds. Zones 5 to 8, depending on the species.
Deciduous shrubs deserve a place in every landscape. Just remember that some of them will grow large, as much as five to eight feet tall or more, and usually a little wider. Give them plenty of room, and plant them with the fully grown size in mind. Water them well, especially during their first year of growth. You'll enjoy these carefree shrubs for years to come.
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