Shrubs can be used to create a border, faux fence and as an accent in your garden. When living in an area where the soil is naturally humus-a good balance of top soil, clay and sand-you can plant just about any shrub and it will thrive. In locations where the soil is mostly or all clay, the options drop unless you are willing to heavily mix the clay soil with purchased top soil or organic matter to make it less compacted. You can by-pass that extra cost and labor by selecting flowering shrubs that will grow in clay soil.
Spiraea Prunifolia ‘Bridal Wreath Spirea’
The blooms of the bridal wreath spirea shrub appear in late spring, are 1 to 2 inches in diameter and consist of cluster of tiny florets. The light scent of the blooms makes cuttings from the shrub suitable for floral arrangements. Plant in full sun. Hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9. Can reach heights of 8 feet.
Abelia x Grandiflora ‘Little Richard’
The 1/2 to 1 inch trumpet-shaped, pinkish-white blooms of the abelia shrub appear in mid-summer on arching woody stems. The blooms are very fragrant and last into the fall. Plant in full sun to part shade. Hardy is USDA zones 6 to 9. Capable of reaching heights over 12 feet, the plant can be kept short through pruning.
Prunus glandulosa ‘Albo Plena’
Albo plena (or alboplena) is also known as Chinese bush cheery and dwarf flowering almond. In late spring, white blooms between 1/2 and 1 inch in diameter appear on straight stems, looking like glued on cotton balls. Plant in full sun to part shade. Hardy is USDA zones 3 to 8. Capable of reaching heights of 6 feet.
How to Plant These Flowering Shrubs
Dig the hole two times as wide as the potted plant and twice as deep to loosen up the soil. Partially backfill the hole and then place the still-potted shrub in the hole to see if the top of dirt in the pot is level with the ground. Adjust the dirt in the bottom of the hole if necessary, remove the shrub from the pot and place it in the center of the hole. Note: If the potted shrub has roots that are wrapping around, an indication that the shrub had become root-bound, loosen the roots before placing in the ground.
Back fill the hole half-way and then water all the way around the shrub to get the dirt to settle. Finish backfilling and water again. Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch and plan to water every 7 to 10 days during the first year in the ground if there is no saturating rainfall.
Caring for These Flowering Shrubs
Little care is needed and if fact, you could let them grow wild. However, occasionally pruning will keep the shrubs at a size suitable for their location. These shrubs can handle severe pruning, so they can be cut back to about six inches above ground level anytime after blooming. Pruning to the ground is a step you could take if the shrub is overgrown. They most likely will not bloom the following summer but will return the following year. No fertilizer is needed.
To give your flowering shrubs an extra boost, mix 30 to 50% organic matter in with the clay soil that you backfill into the hole when planting it. The organic matter can be compost or leaves.
Sources: Abelia, Spirea, Albo Plena