University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Some Larger Shrubs to Consider Planting

March 2, 2000

Thinking of adding a large shrub or two to the landscape this season? There are many to choose from. Large shrubs may provide a background or screen, may be an interesting focal point, provide cover for birds, and may produce attractive flowers and even fruit. Here's a review a few of the more popular choices for northern Illinois landscapes.

Viburnums are a popular, versatile group of large shrubs ideal for background or screen plantings in sun or semi-shade locations. Most will flower and produce fruit that is usually attractive to wildlife. Among the popular larger viburnum species are wayfaringtree, nannyberry, arrowwood, and American cranberrybush viburnum species.

Dogwoods are another group of popular larger shrubs. Redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a spreading shrub that tolerates wet and poorly drained soils. Twigs are red, and need to be pruned on a regular basis to maintain attractive color. Another good choice is gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa), which is a very adaptable shrub good for screen or natural type plantings. Corneliancherry dogwood (Cornus mas) can become very large (15 feet) and may grow out of bounds. Yellow flowers in early spring are popular, but may be damaged in severe winters.

Discussion of large flowering shrubs has to include lilacs. Fragrant purple, pink, or white flowers make this shrub a longtime favorite. Many cultivars are available though area nurseries. Keep in mind that it's best to prune lilacs on a regular basis to avoid older, woody trunks that attract insect borers and also decline in flowering.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier species) is an adaptable shrub well suited for wooded areas. This shrub tolerates shade and alkaline soils. White flowers will yield edible purple fruits, and the foliage gets yellow or orange fall color.

Finally, common Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a good natural background planting for larger landscape settings. This shrub tolerates poor soil and also has a spreading growth habit. Yellow flowers appear in October.


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