Selecting Shrubs for the Landscape

May 2018


Shrubs serve an important role in landscaping. They can be used as hedge borders, focal points, along the foundation of a home to “tie” it to the ground by softening strong architectural lines, and to fill large areas. Shrubs screen and separate private areas, create garden rooms, and absorb noise. Many are evergreen, providing a backbone for the winter landscape.
Unlike annual flowers, or even some herbaceous perennials, shrubs are usually planted with permanence in mind. As such, it is important to carefully select plants to ensure long-term success. It is important to consider the plant’s adaptability to the proposed planting site, as well as its mature size. For best results, choose a plant that is best adapted to the climatic zone or region and will fit in the space designated for planting, even after it reaches full size.
When selecting shrubs for the landscape, it is also important to consider each plant’s ornamental characteristics. Consider plant height, width, and shape; foliage color and texture, including fall color; bark attributes; and flowering and fruiting habits, to obtain the right shrub for your landscape design.

 

Shrubs can be used as living fences to delineate space and create garden rooms.

Ornamental Characteristics of Shrubs
Many shrubs are planted for their showy floral displays. You can develop a long season of bloom by planting various types of shrubs. The time any shrub remains in bloom varies from a few days to a few months; however, the time of year a shrub blooms remains the same year after year. Use a variety of shrubs that bloom in sequence to develop a planting with a long blooming period. Most landscapes have lots of flowers in spring, with few in summer or fall. Prolong the ornamental season through careful shrub selection. Choose shrubs known to bloom at alternate times of year, or choose plants that provide other ornamental traits during hot weather and into the fall such as colorful bark, fall foliage, or fruit.
A number of ornamental shrubs produce attractive fruit following flowering. Some have black or dark purple fruit that often go unnoticed, unless sited for contrast. Brightly colored fruit make a better show than dull colors. The time fruit is ornamental should be a consideration. Fruit persisting into winter provides color in the winter landscape. A shrub may produce beautiful fruit, but too few to be noticed, so their ornamental value is low. Within limits, the larger the fruit the more ornamental it may be. Conversely, large fruit can be a problem to clean up.
For shrubs such as holly and yew, male and female flowers are produced on separate plants and fruit is only produced on the female plants. A plant with this flowering and fruiting habit is called dioecious. When female, fruiting plants are desired, a male plant must also be grown to ensure pollination. Usually one male shrub pollinates several female plants.
Foliage color, other than green, can occur in fall, in spring, or from spring to fall. The foliage of shrubs with showy spring color often fades to green or off green by summer. Colored foliage or variegated shrubs can be less vigorous than the natural form with green foliage. Shrubs with colored or variegated foliage may need different light intensity. Sunlight is often necessary for good fall color development or summer foliage coloration. For example, barberry cultivars with purple leaves in the sun may have nearly green leaves in the shade.
Bark is another ornamental feature. The bark may be highly colored or have interesting texture. Shrubs with evergreen foliage, brightly colored bark, or striking bark textures and patterns can provide winter color and interest.
Attracting wildlife may be a reason for selecting a particular shrub. Some shrubs produce fruits eaten by birds and others provide shelter; while some yield flowers that attract butterflies.
Some shrubs have safety concerns that should be considered. Don’t plant shrubs with poisonous berries near public walkways. Keep in mind that plants with poisonous parts or spiny foliage or stems should be avoided in high traffic areas. On the other hand, spiny shrubs/hedges may provide “traffic control” and security for an area.
Select shrubs hardy enough to survive the winter and durable enough to endure the Oklahoma summer heat.
Avoid shrubs with serious pest problems. The large selection of available shrubs makes it unnecessary to use those notorious for annual infestations of insects or diseases. Pests attack most shrubs during their lives, but most can be easily controlled or ignored. Shrubs to avoid are those with serious pest problems that render the plants aesthetically unacceptable.

Shrubs pruned in a formal fashion can be used to create fun and creative garden designs.

Shrubs for a Purpose
Tolerates or Prefers Dry Locations
Most or all of the shrubs listed below will still require vigilant irrigation for at least the first growing season. However, upon establishment, plants below are known to tolerate or even prefer dry sites. Tolerance to dry or xeric conditions will widely differ amongst these species.

Abelia, Glossy (Abelia x grandiflora)
Althea or Rose of Sharon, (Hibiscus syriacus)
Aralia, Fiveleaf (Eleutherococcus sieboldianus)
Aucuba, Japanese (Aucuba japonica)
Barberry, Japanese (Berberis thunbergii)
Barberry, Mentor (Berberis x mentorenesis)
Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
Bluebeard or Blue-mist shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
Blueberry, Highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum)
Bush-Honeysuckle, Southern (Diervilla sessilifolia)
Chokeberry, Black or Red (Aronia melanocarpa or A. arbutifolia)
Cinquefoil, Bush (Potentilla fruticosa)
Coralberry, Indiancurrant, or Buckbrush (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)
Coralberry, Chenault (Symphoricarpos x chenaultii)
Cotoneaster, Rock (Cotoneaster apiculatus)
Cotoneaster, Spreading (Cotoneaster divaricatus)
Cotoneaster, Willowleaf (Cotoneaster salicifolius)
Devil’s-walkingstick (Aralia spinosa)
Dogwood, Gray (Cornus racemosa)
Dogwood, Roughleaf (Cornus asperifolia var. drummondii)
Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)
Holly, Chinese (Ilex cornuta)
Holly, Yaupon (Ilex vomotoria)
Honeysuckle, Morrow (Lonicera morrowii)
Honeysuckle, Tatarian (Lonicera tatarica)
Honeysuckle, Winter (Lonicera fragrantissima)
Hydrangea, smooth (Hydrangea arborescens)
Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis spp.)
Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
Nandina or Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)
Ninebark, (Physocarpus opulifolius )
Paradise Ponciana or Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesi)
Pearl Bush (Exochorda racemosa)
Photinia (Photinia spp.)
Plum, American (Prunus americana)
Plum, Sandhill (Prunus angustifolia)
Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
Quince, flowering (Chaenomeles speciosa)
Rose, rugosa (Rosa rugosa)
Saint Johnswort (Hypericum spp.)
Serviceberry, Shadblow (Amelanchier canadensis)
Siberian Peashrub (Caragana arborescens)
Spirea, Anthony Waterer (Spiraea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’)
Spirea, Vanhoutte (Spiraea x vanhouttei)
Sumac, Fragrant (Rhus aromatica)
Sumac, Smooth (Rhus glabra)
Witchhazel (Hamamelis spp.)
Yucca (Yucca spp.)

Tolerates or Prefers Wet Locations
Plants listed below will only tolerate flooding for short periods of time (normally only a few days). Very few will actually survive long-term submersion of their root systems.

Beautyberry, Purple (Callicarpa dichotoma)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Chokeberry (Aronia spp.)
Cinquefoil, Bush (Potentilla fruticosa)
Devilwood, False holly or Osmanthus (Osmanthus heterophyllus)
Dogwood, Redosier (Cornus sericea)
Dogwood, Roughleaf (Cornus asperifolia)
Dogwood, Silky (Cornus amomum)
Elder, American or Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
Holly, Deciduous or Possumhaw (Ilex decidua)
Holly, Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)
Sweetshrub, California (Calycanthus occidentalis)
Sweetspire, Virginia (Itea virginica)
Viburnum, European or Snowball (Viburnum opulus)
Waxmyrtle, Southern (Morella cerifera)

Shrubs with variegated foliage, like this five-leaf aralia, really stand out in shady areas.

Tolerates or Prefers Shade
The following plants will perform well under shady conditions.

Abelia, Glossy (Abelia x grandiflora)
Aralia, Fiveleaf (Eleutherococcus sieboldianus)
Aucuba, Japanese (Aucuba japonica)
Azalea (Rhododendron spp.)
Barberry, Japanese (Berberis thunbergii)
Barberry, Mentor (Berberis x mentorenesis)
Boxwood, Common (Buxus sempervirens)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Camellia (Camellia spp.)
Coralberry or Snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.)
Currant, Golden (Ribes aplinum ‘Aureum’)
Dogwood, Redosier (Cornus sericea)
Euonymus (Euonymus spp.)
Fothergilla (Fothergilla spp.)
Holly (Ilex spp.)
Honeysuckle, Winter (Lonicera fragrantissima)
Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)
Jasmine, Winter (Jasminum nudiflorum)
Jetbead, Black (Rhodotypos scandens)
Kerria, Japanese (Kerria japonica)
Mockorange (Philadelphus spp.)
Mahonia, creeping (Mahonia repens)
Mahonia, Leatherleaf (Mahonia bealei)
Nandina, Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica)
Pine, Mugo (Pinus mugo var. mugo)
Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
Spirea, Vanhoutte (Spiraea x vanhouttei)
Sweetspire, Virginia (Itea virginica)
Weigela, Old fashioned (Weigela florida)
Yew, (Taxus spp.)
Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)

Aucuba or Gold Dust plant is excellent for heavily shaded areas.

 

Shrubs with variegated leaves.

Common Boxwood

Abelia ‘Confetti’

Tolerates or Prefers Alkaline Soils
Many of the plants listed below will thrive and remain green despite growing in high pH soils. However, when pH values exceed pH 8.0 or higher, it may be difficult to grow some of the species below.

Althea or Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Barberry (Berberis spp.)
Beautyberry, Purple (Callicarpa dichotoma)
Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)
Bluebeard or Blue-mist Shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
Boxwood (Buxus spp.)
Buddleia or Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)
Bush cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)
Carolina Allspice or Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)
Chokeberry (Aronia spp.)
Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.)
Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
Dogwood, Redosier or Red Twig (Cornus sericea)
Euonymus (Euonymus spp.)
Firethorn (Pyracantha spp.)
Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)
Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
Lilac (Syringa spp.)
Mahonia (Mahonia spp.)
Mockorange (Philadelphus spp.)
Nandina (Nandina domestica)
Ninebark (Physocarpus spp.)
Pine (Pinus spp.)
Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Spirea (Spiraea spp.)
Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)
Yew (Taxus spp.)
Yucca (Yucca spp.)

Tolerates Salty Soils
Plants below have varying degrees of tolerance to saline soils. While some may survive salty soils, the homeowner should still expect the possibility of burned or scorched leaves with overall stunting of the plant a possibility.

Bayberry, northern (Myrica pensylvanica)
Blueberry, highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum)
Bush-Honeysuckle, southern (Diervilla sessilifolia)
Chokeberry, black (Aronia melanocarpa)
Chokeberry, red (Aronia arbutifolia)
Cinquefoil, bush (Potentilla fruticosa)
Cotoneaster, rock (Cotoneaster apiculatus)
Cotoneaster, spreading (Cotoneaster divaricatus)
Cotoneaster, willowleaf (Cotoneaster salicifolius)
Holly, inkberry (Ilex glabra)
Holly, Japanese (Ilex crenata)
Hydrangea, bigleaf (Hydrangea macrophylla)
Hydrangea, oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Hydrangea, panicle (Hydrangea paniculata)
Hydrangea, smooth (Hydrangea arborescens)
Juniper, shore (Juniperus conferta)
Lilac, littleleaf (Syringa microphylla)
Lilac, Manchurian (Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’)
Lilac, Meyer (Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’)
Privet, Amur (Ligustrum amurense)
Rose, rugosa (Rosa rugosa)
Viburnum, Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)
Viburnum, blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium)
Viburnum, siebold (Viburnum sieboldii)
Yew, Anglojap (Taxus x media cultivars)
Yew, Japanese (Taxus cuspidata)

Winter Interest
Many plants have ornamental merit during the cold months. There are a number of other attributes to seek out in addition to flowers; many plants have characteristics that set them above other plants, such as the colorful bark of redosier dogwood, the colorful fruit of deciduous holly that persist into the winter, and the unusual branching habit of Harry Lauder’s walkingstick.

Showy Bark/Branches or Unusual Form:
Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)
Dogwood, redosier (Cornus sericea)
Dogwood, yellowtwig (Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’)
Euonymus, Winged or Burning bush (Euonymus alatus)
Harry Lauder’s walkingstick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)
Kerria, Japanese (Kerria japonica)

Interesting Stems or Bark

Harry Lauder’s Walkingstick

Diablo Ninebark

Interesting or Showy Fruit:
Barberry, Japanese (Berberis thunbergii)
Beautyberry (Callicarpa japonica)
Buckthorn, Carolina (Rhamnus caroliniana)
Buffaloberry, Silver (Shepherdia argentea)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Chokeberry, Black (Aronia melanocarpa)
Chokeberry, Red (Aronia arbutifolia)
Coralberry, Indiancurrant or Buckbrush (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)
Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.)
Dogwood (Cornus spp.)
Elder or Elderberry (Sambucus spp.)
Euonymus (Euonymus spp.)
Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)
Hardy orange (Poncirus trifoliata)
Holly (Ilex spp. and hybrids)
Honeysuckle, Morrow (Lonicera morrowii)
Honeysuckle, Tatarian (Lonicera tatarica)
Jetbead, Black (Rhodotypos scandens)
Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
Mahonia (Mahonia spp.)
Nandina or Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica)
Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
Sumac (Rhus spp.)
Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)

Flowers During Winter and Early Spring
Camellia (Camellia spp.)
Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
Jasmine, winter (Jasminum nudiflorum)
Honeysuckle, winter (Lonicera fragrantissima)
Quince, Flowering (Chaenomeles spp.)
Spirea (certain Spiraea spp.)
Witchhazel (Hamamelis spp.)
Winterhazel (Corylopsis spp.)

Showy Flowers
We expect herbaceous annual and perennial ornamental plants to bloom in the landscape, but it is an added bonus when shrubs bloom. The following shrubs provide colorful, showy flowers.

Abelia, glossy (Abelia x grandiflora)
Althea or Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Azalea (Rhododendron spp.)
Barberry (Berberis spp.)
Beautyberry (Callicarpa japonica)
Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)
Bluebeard or Blue-mist Shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
Bush Cinqefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.)
Camellia (Camellia spp.)
Carolina Allspice or Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)
Cherrylaurel, Carolina (Prunus caroliniana)
Cherrylaurel, Otto Luyken (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’)
Cherrylaurel, Common (Prunus laurocerasus)
Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.)
Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)
Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)
Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)
Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis spp.)
Lilac (Syringa spp.)
Mahonia (Mahonia spp.)
Mockorange, sweet (Philadelphus spp.)
Nandina or Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica)
Pearl Bush (Exochorda spp.)
Photinia (Photinia spp.)
Pyracantha or Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)
Rose (Rosa spp.)
Sand plum (Prunus angustifolia)
Siberian peashrub (Caragana arborescens)
Spirea (Spiraea spp.)
St. Johnswort (Hypericum spp.)
Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
Viburnums (Viburnum spp.)
Vitex, Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)
Weigela (Weigela florida)
Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)
Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis)

Flowering Shrubs

Ballerina Rose

 

Woadwaxen

 

Bird of Paradise

 

Burgundy Chilopsis

 

Summersweet

 

Purple Smoketree

 

Fothergilla

 

St. Johnswort

 

Japanese Kerria

 

Leatherleaf Mahonia

 

Oakleaf Hydrangea

 

Azaleas and Japanese Kerria

 

Pink Velour Crapemyrtle

 

Chastetree

 

Winter Jasmine

Fall Color
Many factors influence the quality and intensity of fall color for any given year. Some of the plants listed below have specific species or cultivars that are known for reliable and markedly vivid fall color. When fall color is the priority trait desired, it is advisable to purchase the plant in the fall when such colors can be viewed and critiqued by the consumer.

Barberry, Japanese (Berberis thunbergii)
Beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.)
Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.)
Carolina Allspice or Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)
Chokeberry (Aronia spp.)
Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.)
Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.)
Dogwood (Cornus spp.)
Euonymus, Winged or Burning Bush (Euonymus alata)
Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
Fothergilla (Fothergilla spp.)
Hydrangea, Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Mahonia, creeping and Oregon grapeholly (Mahonia repens and M. aquifolium)
Nandina, heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica)
Ninebark (Physocarpus spp.)
Parrotia, Persian (Parrotia persica)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)
Smoketree (Cotinus coggygria)
Spirea (Spiraea spp.)
Sumac (Rhus spp.)
Sweetspire, Virginia (Itea virginica)
Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)
Witchhazel (Hamamelis spp.)

 

Shrubs with colorful foliage

Golden Chamaecyparis

 

Loropetalum

 

Purple smoketree

 

‘Magic Carpet’ Spirea

 

‘Diablo’ Ninebark

Garden and Patio or Large Containers
Just a few of the many plants that are candidates for containers are listed below; theoretically, most shrubs could be containerized. However, some plants do not perform well or outgrow containers after many years. If permanent plantings are your expectation, check with garden center personnel for the best plant or plants to use for long-term success.

Abelia, glossy (Abelia x grandiflora)
Barberry (Berberis spp.)
Boxwood (Buxus spp.)
Holly, Evergreen and deciduous (Ilex spp.)
Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
Mahonia, creeping (Mahonia repens)
Nandina, dwarf selections (Nandina domestica)
Yew (Taxus spp.)

Small Shrubs for Small Spaces
Many species have cultivars that have been selected for their short height or narrow width at maturity.

Arborvitae, Dwarf (Thuja spp.)
Crapemyrtle, Miniature (Lagerstroemia spp.)
Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’)
Euonymus, Dwarf Box leaf (Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus’)
Indian Hawthorn, Ballerina (Rhaphiolepis spp.)
Junipers (Juniperus spp.)
Mahonia, Creeping (Mahonia repens)
Nandina, Dwarf (Nandina domestica)
Pine, Mugo (Dwarf cultivars) (Pinus mugo)
Pomegranate, Dwarf (Punica granatum)
Roses, Miniature (Rosa spp.)
Waxmyrtle, Dwarf (Myrica spp.)

Shrubs with attractive fruit

Burning Bush

 

Black Jetbead

 

Deciduous Holly

 

Firethorn

 

Beautyberry

 

Leatherleaf Mahonia

 

 

Attract Wildlife
Many gardeners not only enjoy plants in the landscape, but also the wildlife that may be attracted to it. The following shrubs may attract wildlife by the fruit they produce or by providing physical protection.

Abelia (Abelia spp.)
Azalea (Rhododendron spp.)
Barberry (Berberis spp.)
Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
Beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.)
Blackberry (Rubus spp.)
Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.)
Buckthorn, Carolina (Rhamnus carolinianus)
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia spp.)
Cherrylaurel, Carolina (Prunus caroliniana)
Corralberry, Indiancurrant or Buckbrush (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)
Currant, Clove (Ribes odoratum)
Dogwood, Roughleaf (Cornus drummondii)
Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)
Elder, American or Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)
Grapeholly (Mahonia spp.)
Holly (Ilex spp.)
Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
Magnolia, Sweet Bay (Magnolia virginiana)
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)
Plum, Sand (Prunus augustifolia)
Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
Quince, Flowering (Chaenomeles spp.)
Rose (Rosa spp.)
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Strawberry bush (Euonymus spp.)
Sumac (Rhus spp.)
Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)
Weigela (Weigela spp.)
Yucca (Yucca spp.)

Native Species
Native, in this context, is defined as any plant native to somewhere in the lower 48 contiguous states, not just Oklahoma.

Bayberry, northern (Myrica pensylvanica)
Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
Bladdernut, American (Staphylea trifolia)
Blueberry, highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum)
Bush-Honeysuckle, Southern (Diervilla sessilifolia)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Carolina Allspice or Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)
Chokeberries, Red and black (Aronia arbutifolia and A. melanocarpa, respectively)
Currant, Clove (Ribes odoratum)
Devil’s walkingstick (Aralia spinosa)
Fothergilla, Dwarf (Fothergilla gardenii)
Fothergilla, large (Fothergilla major)
Grapeholly (Mahonia spp.)
Holly, American (Ilex opaca)
Holly, common winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Holly, Deciduous or possumhaw (Ilex decidua)
Holly, inkberry (Ilex glabra)
Hydrangea, smooth (Hydrangea arborescens)
Hydrangea, Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
Ninebark, purple, Diablo™ (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’)
Palmetto (Sabal minor)
Rhododendron and azalea (Rhododendron spp. & cultivars)
Summersweet or sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)
Sweetspire, Virginia (Itea virginica)
Viburnum, American cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum)
Viburnum, arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)
Viburnum, blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium)
Viburnum, Southern blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum)
Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplissima)

Make Good Hedges
Many shrubs are suitable for use as a hedge. However, some work better than others depending on if they are trained into a clipped, formal hedge or pruned more informally to maintain the natural form and shape of the plant. Plants with smaller leaves, as opposed to wide, large leaves, work best for formal, clipped hedges.

Shrubs for formal, clipped hedge:
Abelia (Abelia spp.)
Barberry, Wintergreen (Berberis julianae)
Boxwood (Buxus spp.)
Devilwood, False holly or Osmanthus (Osmanthus heterophyllus)
Holly (Ilex spp.)
Yews (Taxus spp.)

Aucuba – Gold Dust Plant

 

Green Mountain Boxwood

 

Pencil Yaupon Holly

 

Yew

 

Falsecypress

Shrubs for natural hedges:
Abelia (Abelia spp.)
Barberry (Berberis spp.)
Boxwood (Buxus spp.)
Cherrylaurel (Prunus spp.)
Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.)
Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.)
Firethorn (Pyracantha spp.)
Forsythia (Forsythia cultivars)
Holly (Ilex spp.)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)
Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
Photinia (Photinia spp.)
Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
Rose (Rosa spp.)
Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)

Evergreens for Background and Screens:
Arborvitae (Thuja spp.)
Azaleas (Rhododendron hybrids)
Boxwood (Buxus spp.)
Cherrylaurel (Prunus spp.)
Devilwood, False holly or Osmanthus (Osmanthus heterophyllus)
Holly (Ilex spp.)
Juniper, Chinese (Juniperus chinensis cultivars)
Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.)
Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)
Waxmyrtle (Morella cerifera)
Yews (Taxus spp.)

 

Evergreen Shrubs

Viburnum

 

William Penn Barberry

 

Southern Waxmyrtle

Make Good Ground Covers
Shrubs that tend to spread or creep along the ground, or don’t grow more than 30 inches tall and when planted close together cover the ground, may be used as ground covers. Plants with attractive foliage and dense growth habit make the best ground covers.

Abelia, dwarf (Abelia x grandiflora ‘Prostrata,’ ‘Edward Goucher’ and others)
Azaleas, low and spreading (Azalea hybrids)
Barberry, Crimson Pygmy (Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea ‘Crimson Pygmy’)
Cotoneaster, rockspray (Cotoneaster horizontalis)
Cotoneaster, willowleaf (Cotoneaster salicifolius ‘Repens’)
Holly, dwarf yaupon (Ilex vomitoria ‘Schelling’s Dwarf’ and other cultivars)
Holly, Japanese (Ilex crenata ‘Stokes’ and other cultivars)
Juniper, Chinese (Juniperus chinensis cultivars)
Junipers, creeping (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Rug’ and other cultivars)
Juniper, shore (Juniperus conferta cultivars)
Leucothoe, drooping (Leucothoe fontanesiana)
Nandinas, Dwarf (Nandina domestica ‘Harbor Dwarf” and other cultivars)
St. Johnswort, shrubby (Hypericum patulum)
Summersweet, ‘Hummingbird’ (Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’)
Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplissima)
Yew, anglojap (Taxus x media)

Table 1. Deciduous Shrubs (some grow naturally as small trees or can be trained as a standard)*     
* Many varieties and cultivars of shrubs exist that are not listed. For the sake of brevity, only one or two samples are provided for any given group of plants. For example, there are numerous variations or cultivars of barberry, viburnum and others selected for foliage or flower color, size, etc.
Common Name – Botanical Name Species Characteristics
Deciduous ShrubsHeight ft. Spread ft.Region Comments
Althea or Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)8 - 126 - 10AWildscape candidate. Red, white, pink and purple flowers.
Aralia, Fiveleaf (Eleutherococcus sieboldianus)8 - 108 - 10 ATolerant of acid or alkaline, sand or clay; very drought tolerant. 'Variegatus' has bright green foliage with creamy white edges that stand out in shaded areas.
Barberry, Japanese (Berberis thunbergii)3 - 64 - 7 AGreen foliage, small thorns, red fruits.
Barberry, Mentor (B. x mentorensis)55 - 7AYellow flowers, semi-evergreen.
Barberry, Red leaf (B. thunbergii atropurpurea)3 - 64 - 7AReddish or purple foliage, many selections available.
Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)5 - 125 - 12NE, SEMale and female plants needed for good fruit development.
Beautyberry, Purple (Callicarpa dichotoma)3 - 44 - 5AWhite fruits available.
Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)6 - 105 - 8APrune to expose exfoliating bark.
Bladdernut, American (Staphylea trifolia)10 - 1510 - 15NE, SEGood plant for naturalizing; suckers. White flowers in spring; interesting bladderlike fruits. Prefers moist, well-drained soil.
Bluebeard or Blue-mist Shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis)3 - 53 - 5ASometimes freezes back, but regenerates from roots. True blue flowers.
Blueberry, Highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum)4 - 125 - 12NE, SEPopular for tasty fruit; many cultivars available. Good ornamental for spring flowers, colorful berries and nice fall color; also an excellent plant to attract wildlife. Needs acid soils.
Buckthorn, Carolina or Indian Cherry (Rhamnus caroliniana)10 - 1510 - 15AHandsome foliage and beautiful fruit that turn red to black as they mature. Large shrub or small tree. Native species.
Buddleia, Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)5 - 104 - 5AWildscape plant. Attracts butterflies.
Buffaloberry, Silver (Shepherdia argentea)6 - 106 - 10Good for poor, dry, high pH soils. Thorny. Red or orange fruits, yellow-fruited selections available.
Bush Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)1 - 42 - 4AMay suffer from heat stress. Flowers in a variety of colors.
Bush-honeysuckle, Southern (Diervilla sessilifolia)3 - 53 - 5Glossy dark green leaves, yellow flowers in summer. Very adaptable and pest free.
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)3 - 6AGood for growing in or near ponds, but also tolerant of normal landscaping conditions. Glossy foliage, white flowers, button-like fruit.
Carolina Allspice or Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) (also California Sweetshrub, Calycanthus occidentalis)6 - 96 - 12AFragrant flowers. Prefers deep, moist loam. Adapts to acid and alkaline soils. Shade or sun.
Chokeberry, Black (Aronia melanocarpa) 3 - 53 - 5ASuckers profusely forming large colonies over time. Provides year round interest.
Chokeberry, Purple-fruited (A. x prunifolia)84 - 6ATends to sucker. Good for banks and difficult to mow areas.
Chokeberry, Red (A. arbutifolia)6 - 103 - 5ATends to sucker. Good for banks and difficult to mow areas.
Corralberry, Chenault (Symphoricarpos x chenaultii)2 - 63 - 12ALow spreading arching. Cultivars available; colorful berries; wildlife plant.
Corralberry, Indiancurrant or Buckbrush (S. orbiculatus)2 - 54 - 8AColorful fruit that persist into winter; good wildlife plant. Several cultivars available.
Cotoneaster, Cranberry (Cotoneaster apiculatus)33 - 6AOccasional disease and insect problems. Showy fruits.
Cotoneaster, Rock (C. horizontalis)2 - 35 - 8AOccasional disease and insect problems. Showy fruits.
Cotoneaster, Spreading (C. divaricatus)5 - 66 - 8AOccasional disease and insect problems. Showy fruits.
Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)6 - 20AMany cultivars available. Actual size of plant is based on cultivar. Choose powdery mildew resistant varieties. In colder areas, may freeze back, but will regrow from roots.
Currant, Clove, Missouri, or Golden (Ribes odoratum)6 - 84 - 5AYellow, clove-scented flowers, edible fruit.
Desert-willow (Chilopsis linearis)15-2510 - 15NW, SWLarge shrub or small tree for dry, well-drained soils. Showy flowers early to mid summer.
Devils-walkingstick (Aralia spinosa)10 - 2010 - 20AHas bi- to tri-pinnately compound leaves providing a tropical effect. Stems spiny. Some what of a novelty plant that is adapted to a wide range of growing conditions.
Dogwood, Gray (Cornus racemosa)10 - 1510 - 15NE, SEGood for naturalizing; good winter characteristics. Fruit favored by birds.
Dogwood, Redosier or Red Twig (C. sericea)7 - 910AHot, humid conditions may lead to decline. Red twigs showy in winter.
Dogwood, Roughleaf (C. asperifolia and C. a. var. drummondii)1515NE, SEGood for naturalizing in moist and wet soils. Spring flowers and late summer fruit good for wildlife.
Dogwood, Silky (C. amomum)6 - 106 - 10NE, SEGood for naturalizing in moist and wet soils. Yellowish white spring flowers and bluish, late summer fruit good for wildlife.
Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)12 - 248 - 10AAttractive fall color and fruits. Can be trained as a tree.
Elder, American or Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)5 - 125 - 12AWhite summer flowers. Purple-black fruit; attracts birds. Suckers profusely. Cultivars available.
Euonymus, American or Strawberry-bush (E. americanus)4 - 63 - 4ACan be infected by scale. Red fall color and showy fruits.
Euonymus, Winged or Burning Bush (E. alatus)10 - 2010 - 20ADoes not contract scale. Dwarf cultivars available, five to 10 feet high and wide.
Fig, Common (Ficus carica)8 - 105 - 7NE, SEFruit is edible. May freeze back from harsh winters.
Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)8 - 1010 - 12AVery early yellow flowers.
Fothergilla (Fothergilla spp.)6 - 105 - 8NE, SEPrefers acid soils. Interesting white flowers appear before leaves in early spring. Provide shade for optimal growth; leaf scorch may occur if planted in full sun.
Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata)8 - 206 - 15NE, SEPrefers well-drained, acid soils. Bright green stems with spines up to 2 inches. A yellow, very sour fruit is produced in fall. A novelty plant; can be used as a thick hedge.
Harry Lauder's Walkingstick or Contorted Filbert (Corylus avellana 'Contorta')8 - 108 - 10AInteresting stems that curl and twist. Leaves also twisted.
Holly, Common Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)6 - 106 - 10NE, SEAdaptable to wet conditions. Prefers moist, acid soils. Full sun or part shade. Colorful fruits. Many cultivars and hybrids available.
Holly, Deciduous or Possumhaw (I. decidua)7 - 157 - 15AVery durable plant. Best ornamental attribute is the showy, colorful fruits that persist into the winter months. Several cultivars are available including weeping forms and those offering fruit colors from yellow, orange to red.
Honeysuckle, Morrow (Lonicera morrowii)6 - 86 - 10ARed fruits, shrub type habit.
Honeysuckle, Tatarian (L. tatarica)10 - 1210AConsidered weedy. Many cultivars.
Honeysuckle, Winter (L. fragrantissima)6 - 106 - 10AExceptional fragrance. Blooms in Feb.-March. Semi-evergreen.
Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)3 - 63 - 6AShowy flowers, pH sensitive.
Hydrangea, Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia)4 - 64 - 6ABest in shade, moist soil. Showy flowers, good fall color, many cultivars available. Oklahoma Proven selection.
Jasmine, Winter (Jasminum nudiflorum)3 - 44 - 7AFlowers December - March. Bright yellow flowers. Young stems bright green.
Jetbead, Black (Rhodotypos scandens)3 - 64 - 9ADurable and adaptable to differing soil conditions; pH adaptable. Tolerant of shade or sun. White flower on tips of branches appear late spring or early summer followed by shiny black fruits. Good for heavy shade, shrub borders or masses.
Kerria, Japanese (Kerria japonica)3 - 66 - 9AFull shade; bright yellow flowers in late spring or early summer. Green stems are showy in winter. Oklahoma Proven Selection.
Lilac, French or Common (Syringa vulgaris and other related species.)8 - 156 - 12ASeek out local expertise when choosing lilacs. Besides finding mildew-resistant types, inquire about fragrance and other ornamental characteristics.
Mockorange, Sweet (Philadelphus coronarius and related spp.)10 - 1210 - 12AMany types available for white, fragrant spring flowers.
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)3 - 43 - 5A Prefers light, well-drained soils; tolerates dryness, avoid excessive irrigation. Low, compact shrub with white flowers mid summer.
Ninebark, dwarf (Physocarpus opulifolius)5 - 75 - 6ADiabloTM and other purple leaf selections are available.
Paradise Poinciana or Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii)106 - 8NE, SE, SWMay freeze back depending upon variety and planting location, but often root hardy. Grow for tropical looking flowers.
Parrotia, Persian (Parrotia persica)20-3015-30ALarge shrub or small tree. Prefers well-drained, slightly acid soil. Is quite tolerant of heat, drought, wind and cold once established, but appreciates late shade. Interesting deep maroon flowers appear in late winter. New growth reddish in color changing to a lustrous green for summer; can be a brilliant yellow or orange in fall. Bark exfoliates leaving patches of green, cream, and gray adding year round interest.
Pearl Bush, common (Exochorda racemosa; E. x macrantha)10 - 1510 - 15NE, SEWhite flowers.
Plum, American or Wild (Prunus americana)15-2015-20ANative species that grows into a shrub or small tree. Often forms large colonies from suckering. Early white spring flowers. Fruit yellow to red, with thick skin and juicy sour edible pulp. Eaten fresh and in jellies and preserves. Good for erosion control and attracting wildlife.
Plum, Sand or Chickasaw (P. angustifolia)66ASand plum develops mostly into a thicket-forming shrub though it can become a small tree. Spreads by suckers. Early white spring flowers. Fruit shiny red though sometimes yellow; edible. Grows in sandy soils. Thickets serve as erosion control and provide food and cover for wildlife.
Pomegranate (Punica granatum)12 - 2012 - 20NE, SEGlossy foliage; orange flowers; edible fruit; may freeze back.
Privet, Amur (Ligustrum amurense)12 - 158 - 10AVery adaptable shrub to most growing conditions except very wet soils. Takes well to pruning and is often used as a hedge.
Privet, Common or Hedge plant (Ligustrum vulgare)12 - 1512 - 15AGood for “instant” hedge.
Privet, Golden or Golden Vicary (L.x vicaryi)10 - 126 - 8AGolden yellow foliage color.
Quince, Flowering (Chaenomeles speciosa)6 - 106 - 10AWhite, pink, or red flowers.
Rose (Rosa spp.)4 - 64 - 6ASeek grower advice for disease resistant cultivars.
Saint John’s-wort (Hypericum patulum)3 - 43 - 4AYellow summer flowers.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier species)6 - 256 - 25NE, SEPrefer moist, acid soils. Year round interest, white to pink spring flowers; edible fruits that may turn red to black to purplish-black; good fall color. Several cultivars available.
Siberian Peashrub (Caragana arborescens)15-2012 - 18AGrows well in tough sites; yellow flowers.
Smoketree or Smokebush (Cotinus coggygrria)10 - 1510 - 15AUnique flowers panicles appear in summer. Tiny hairs on panicles clusters turn a smoky pink to purplish giving the appearance of puffs of smoke coming from the shrub. Purple leaf forms available; fall color can be spectacular on cultivars. Adaptable to wide range of soil and pH conditions.
Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)3 - 63 - 6AWhite fruits. S. orbiculatus has pink fruits.
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)6 - 126 - 12NE, SEDoes best in well-drained moist soils; sun to part shade. Yellow to golden yellow fall color. Bright scarlet fruits are attractive on female plants after leaves have fallen.
Spirea, Anthony Waterer (Spiraea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’)3 - 44 - 5APink summer flowers.
Spirea, Magic Carpet (S. japonica ‘Magic Carpet’)2 - 32 - 3AOrange-red to reddish purple young new shoots, yellow-gold at maturity, pinkish flowers.
Spirea, Vanhoutte (S. x vanhouttei)6 - 810 - 12ACommon shrub with arching, fountain-like habit with white flowers. Very tough. spectacular spring display of
Sumac, Cutleaf (Rhus glabra ‘Laciniata’)10 - 1510 - 15ALeaflets deeply cut and lobed; produces bright scarlet fruit.
Sumac, fragrant (R. aromatica)2 - 66 - 10Low spreading shrub. Glossy green summer foliage, turning orange to red to purplish-red in fall. Very drought tolerant. 'Gro-low' has yellow female flowers that produce hairy red fruits; good groundcover, foundation plant, attracts wildlife, and can be used to control erosion on slopes.
Sumac, Smooth (R. glabra)10 - 1510 - 15AExcellent fall color; crimson fruits on female plants. Suckers form colonies. Tough plant found growing in difficult sites.
Sumac, Staghorn (R. typhina)15-2515-25AExcellent fall color; crimson fruits on female plants. Suckers form colonies. Tough plant found growing in difficult sites.
Summersweet or Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)4 - 84 - 6NE, SEEasy to grow native shrub. Prefers acid soils; grows in wet places, sun or partial shade. Excellent summer flowers are fragrant and attract bees and butterflies. Many cultivars available. Good yellow fall color.
Sweetspire, Virginia (Itea virginica)3 - 53 - 5NE, SEWhite flower, showy fall color.
Viburnum, American Cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum)3 - 124 - 12ANative species that prefers moist, well-drained soils; will decline under moisture stress. White spring flowers and bright red fruits that are edible and sometimes used in preserves. Leaves medium to dark green in summer, turning yellow to red-purple in fall; new growth has reddish tinge. Excellent foliage, flower and fruiting characteristics; makes good screen and informal hedge; neat compact forms available.
Viburnum, Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)6 - 86 - 15AShowy blue fruits. Several cultivars available.
Viburnum, Blackhaw (V. prunifolium)12 - 158 - 12ANative species adaptable to many soils, does well in dry soils; sun or shade. Creamy white spring flowers; fruits pinkish, rose, maturing to bluish black, edible. Good summer leaf color changing to red to purplish red in fall.
Viburnum, Burkwood (V. x burkwoodii)8 - 106 - 8AFragrant flowers.
Viburnum, Doublefile or Japanese (V. plicatum var. tomentosum) 8 - 109 - 12NE, SEWhite flowers, heavily floriferous.
Viburnum, European or Snowball (V. opulus)8 - 1210 - 15AWhite flowers, red fruits.
Viburnum, Siebold (V. sieboldii)15-2010 - 15ACreamy white spring flowers. Red fruits, attract birds. Dark shiny green summer foliage. Prefers moist, well-drained soils, pH adaptable. Grows in sun or part shade; may scorch in dry soils.
Viburnum, Southern Blackhaw or Rusty Blackhaw (V. rufidulum)10 - 208 - 20ANative species with creamy white spring flowers and dark blue fruit. Leaves turn burgundy in fall. Very drought tolerant.
Vitex, or Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)8 - 109 - 10ALavender, pink, or white flowers, attractive foliage. Attracts butterflies. May freeze, but will regenerate from roots.
Weigela (Weigela florida)6 - 99 - 12AMany cultivars.
Willow, Goat or Pussy (Salix caprea)15-2512 - 15AFast growth, showy winter or early spring flowers.
Woadwaxen (Genista species)2 - 32 - 3AGood low growing plant for poor, dry soils. Beautiful yellow early summer flowers. Bright green summer foliage.
Winterhazel (Corylopsis spp.)4 - 204 - 15NE, SEPrefers moist, acid, well-drained soil. Shelter from late freezes to protect early, pale yellow, fragrant flowers that appear before leaves in spring.
Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis)6 - 104 - 5SW, NE, SEGrow for winter flowers.
Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima)2 - 3NE, SENative species excellent as a ground cover. Bright green summer foliage, may develop yellow or golden orange fall color. Spreads freely in moist areas, less aggressive in dry soils; will do well in heavy soils; avoid high pH soils. Full sun or partial shade. A yellow dye can be made from the sap.
Table 2. Evergreen Shrubs     
Common Name – Botanical NameSpecies Characteristics
Coniferous Shrubs (Narrowleaf)Height ft.Spread ft.RegionComments
Arborvitae (Thuja species)1 - 301 - 15ALarge shrubs to small trees; many cultivars available within each species, dwarf to compact forms available. Use for foundation plantings, screens, windbreaks, accent plants, or hedges. Prefer fertile, moist, well-drained soils though most are quite tough once established. Best in full sun.
Falsecypress (Chamaecyparis species)3+3+NE, SELoam soil. Part sun. Shelter from hot wind and afternoon sun. Many are large plants, even trees. Select cultivars that best fit location, such as dwarf forms. Used more as a specimen plant in protected areas of Oklahoma landscapes.
Juniper, Chinese (Juniperus chinensis)1-25+3 - 10ASize varies significantly depending on cultivar and there are many. Spreading shrub to upright shrub or tree.
Juniper, Creeping (J. horizontalis)1 - 24 - 8ASize is variable, but definitely low-growing, spreading type.
Juniper, Japgarden (J. procumbens)3 - 410 - 15AAttractive in planters.
Juniper, Rocky Mountain (J. scopulorum)30-403 - 15NW, SW Similar to native eastern red cedar.
Juniper, Savin (J. sabina)4 - 65 - 10ASeveral cultivars available.
Juniper, Shore (J. conferta)1 - 26 - 9AMay have some shade tolerance.
Pine, Mugo (Pinus mugo)15-2025-30ALow growing forms available from three to six feet tall.
Spruce, Dwarf Alberta (Picea glauca 'Conica')10 - 126 - 8AVery slow growing; cone-shaped and dense. Is not highly recommended, but is very common in the trade. Heat, humidity and wind can lead to stress; spider mites are a common problem.
Yew, Anglojap (Taxus x media)2 - 20ACultivar Runyan has performed well in Oklahoma.
Yew, Japanese (T. cuspidata)5 - 155 - 15ASize varies with cultivar. The cultivar Thayerae has performed well in Oklahoma.
Broadleaf Evergreen Shrubs
Abelia, Glossy (Abelia x grandiflora)3 - 63 - 6NE, SE, SWMay develop severe chlorosis in high pH soils.
Aucuba (Aucuba japonica)6 - 105 - 8SE (NE)Excellent for shady areas. Not drought tolerant. Tolerates moist clay soils. Variegated forms available.
Azalea, (Rhododendron spp.)VariesVariesNE, SEKeep mulched, shelter from sun and wind. Not drought tolerant. High maintenance plant. Flowers and twigs poisonous if eaten. Vast selections available; confer with garden center personnel.
Barberry, William Penn (Berberis x gladwynensis ‘William Penn’)44AShowy foliage. Semi-evergreen.
Barberry, Wintergreen or Juliane (B. julianae)6 - 86 - 8AVery spiny, makes good barrier or hedge. Lustrous dark green leaves, yellow spring flowers, and bluish black fruits that persist into winter.
Boxwood, Common or English (Buxus sempervirens)15-2015-20ADo not cultivate or over fertilize. Winter sunscald if not shaded. Many cultivars available, most grow smaller than species.
Boxwood, Little Leaf (B. microphylla)3 - 43 - 4ASlow growth, showy foliage, good for formal plantings.
Camellia, Sasanqua (Camellia sasanqua)NE, SEShowy fall flowers. Some camellias yield winter flowers. Dark glossy green leaves.
Cherrylaurel or English Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)10 - 18SW, NE, SENeeds well-drained soil. Fragrant flowers. Toxic foliage.
Cherrylaurel, Carolina (Prunus caroliniana)20-3015-25NE, SEEvergreen, toxic foliage.
Cotoneaster, Bearberry (Cotoneaster dammeri)1-1 ½6+ASemi-evergreen, attractive fruits.
Cotoneaster, Willowleaf (C. salicifolius)1 - 158 - 12ALow spreading cultivars are available. Lustrous dark green foliage, turns red to purple in winter. Colorful red fruits.
Elaeagnus, Silverberry (Elaeagnus pungens)10 - 1510 - 15AFruits seldom seen, but may attract birds. Semi-evergreen foliage used in hedges.
Euonymus, Japanese (Euonymus japonicus several cultivars)5 - 105 - 10AGlossy green leaf. Numerous cultivars available. Highly susceptible to scale insect.
Euonymus, Spreading (E. kiautschovicus)8 - 108 - 10AFruit not showy, but interestingly attractive. ‘Manhattan’ cultivar is a superior species.
Euonymus, Winter Creeper (E. fortunei)1 - 33-6+AMany cultivars available. Leafspot and scale possible.
Holly, American (Ilex opaca)15-3012 - 20NE, SEWell-drained, acid soils; sun to part shade. Leaves have spines. Medium drought tolerance, mulch. Most are large, tree like; much variation by cultivars in form and fruiting. Must have male and female plants for fruit.
Holly, Chinese or Horned (I. cornuta)8 - 1010+NE, SESpiny glossy leaf. Shelter from wind. Many cultivars available. Showy fruit on female plants, male is usually required for fruiting.
Holly, The Blue or Meserve Hollies (I. x meserveae)8 - 205 - 10AShould grow in northwest Oklahoma with shelter. Deep green leaves with blue gloss. Showy fruit on female plants.
Holly, Fosters Hybrid (I. x attenuata)20-30NE, SEShowy fruit on female plants.
Holly, Inkberry (semi-evergreen) (I. glabra)6 - 88 - 10NE, SEMany cultivars available. Showy fruit on female plants. Prefers acid, moist soil. Will in swampy areas.grow
Holly, Japanese (I. crenata)5 - 105 - 10NE, SELeaves without spines, dark green. Shelter from sun and wind. Best adapted to northeast Oklahoma. Many cultivars available.
Holly, Yaupon (I. vomitoria)4 - 206 - 8ATough holly, but likes mulch and light amounts of fertilizer. Leaf without spines, dark green on top with gray back stems. Dwarf yaupon makes good substitute for boxwood. Can be sheared. More tolerant of wind and sun than other hollies.
Honeysuckle, Winter (Lonicera fragrantissima)6 - 106 - 10AVery fragrant flowers that bloom in late winter. Semi-evergreen.
Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis spp.)4 - 64 - 6SE, SWMarginally hardy. Flowers vary from late winter to early summer. Medium drought tolerance. Best for southern portions of Oklahoma.
Laurel, Mountain (Kalmia latifolia)4 - 84 - 5NE, SEChallenging to grow in Oklahoma; attractive flowers.
Leucothoe, drooping (Leucothoe fontanesiana)3 - 63 - 6NE, SEGraceful with spreading, arching branches. White fragrant flowers; bright green, bronze to purple leaves maturing to dark green, turning bronze to purple in fall. Must have moist, well-drained, acid soils; does not tolerate drought, drying winds prune to ground after flowering to rejuvenate. Fungal leaf spots can be a problem.
Magnolia, Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana)10 - 2010 - 20NE, SEEvergreen to semi-evergreen multi-stemmed shrub. Tolerates wet, swampy soils and shade. White creamy flowers in late spring are lemon-scented. Dark-red fruit with bright red seeds can be attractive. Native to eastern Oklahoma.
Mahonia, Creeping (Mahonia repens)3/4-1 ¾3 - 4ASpreading, evergreen groundcover. Yellow spring flowers, grape-like fruit.
Mahonia or Oregon Grapeholly (M. aquifolium)3 - 63 - 5AGlossy, spiny, dark green leaf, new leaves red purple. Summer grape-like fruit. Best in part shade. Suckers and will form colonies.
Mahonia, Leatherleaf (M. bealei)6 - 106 - 8NE, SELarge, leathery, stiff, blue green leaf. Flowers are very fragrant. Grape-like fruit. Medium drought tolerance.
Nandina or Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)4 - 84 - 5ALacy leaf. Small red fruit in fall. Tough plant, drought tolerant. Red fall leaf color. Many cultivars available; vary greatly in size. Semi-evergreen.
Osmanthus, Devilwood or False Holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus)8 - 106 - 8SEFlowers form in fall, are often hidden, but very fragrant. Shelter, keep mulched, watered and fertilized. Holly look-alike.
Palmetto (Sabal minor)May 85SE, NENative to southeast Oklahoma. Provides tropical flare to landscape.
Photinia, Chinese (Photinia serrulata)20-2514-16AResistant to leaf spot.
Photinia, Redtip (P. x fraseri)10 - 155 - 8APretty red new growth, may contract Entomosporium leaf spot. Prune in spring for density. Avoid wet or hot sites. Nitrogen fertilizer beneficial. Drought tolerant.
Pieris, Japanese (Pieris japonica)3-4+6 - 8NE, SEShowy white flowers in spring. Moist, acid, well-drained soil.
Pittosporum, Japanese (Pittosporum tobira)10 - 1215-24SEShould probably be limited to extreme southeast corner of Oklahoma. Smaller cultivars available. Fragrant creamy white flowers in spring. Relatively tough plant, not too finicky of site. Sun or heavy shade. Freeze injury possible.
Privet, Japanese (Ligustrum japonicum)6 - 126 - 8NE, SEAdaptable, withstands heavy pruning. White spring flower, dull black fruits.
Pyracantha, Scarlet Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)6 - 186 - 18AOutstanding, bright orange-red fruit persisting into winter. Some disease and insect problems. Does well in dry soil. Semi-evergreen.
Rhododendron (Rhododendron hybrids)VariesVariesNE, SEBeautiful spring flowers.
Viburnum, Alleghany (Viburnum x rhytidophylloides ‘Alleghany’)1011NE, SE, NW, SWThese and many other viburnums are valued for spring flowers, often fragrant, pest-free deciduous or evergreen foliage, brilliant fall color, and showy fruits.
Viburnum, Leatherleaf (Viburnum rhytidophyllum)10 - 1510 - 15NE, SEShowy fruits. Shelter from sun, reflected heat and wind. Not drought tolerant.
Waxmyrtle, Southern (Morella cerifera)10 - 1510 - 15NE, SE, SW, NWSmall clusters of gray fruit. Beautiful, wispy, shrub to small tree. Makes excellent pruned screen or limbed up to expose handsome gray, almost white bark. Spring growth develops rich bayberry candle odor. May defoliate in temperatures below zero degrees.
Yucca, Adam’s Needle (Yucca filamentosa)3 - 43 - 4ACold hardy. Grows about anywhere except very wet sites. Produces yellowish-white pendulous flowers on three- to six-foot-tall stalk in summer.
Yucca, Red (Hesperaloe parvifolia)3 - 43 - 4ADark pink to red flowers arising on a four- to five-foot stalk.
* Many varieties and cultivars of shrubs exist that are not listed. However, for the sake of brevity, only one or two samples are provided for any given group of plants. For example, there are numerous variations or cultivars of barberry selected for foliage color, size, etc.

David Hillock
Assistant Extension Specialist, Consumer Horticulture

Kimberly Holmes
Former Assistant Extension Specialist

Mike Schnelle
Extension Ornamental Floriculture Specialist

DASNR Extension Research CASNR
OCES  Contact
OCES
139 Agricultural Hall
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY