Shrubs are woody, multi-stemmed plants that are smaller than trees but often larger than perennials. They are available in many shapes and sizes and often with colourful and/or fragrant flowers. Some also produce excellent autumn colour.
- With careful selection, you can have a garden with shrubs flowering throughout the year.
- Depending on your choice they can be placed either at the front or back of borders or used as specimens to show off other plants.
- Their foliage, stems, flower colour and shape, and in some cases spent flower heads (like hydrangea), can give textural contrast in mixed plantings. These features also enhance colour palettes and extend the period of interest in that part of the garden.
- Some shrubs are also great for hedging, such as some Camellia cultivars.
What to grow
There are many different shrubs to choose for your garden. Most shrubs prefer well-drained, moisture-retentive soils with a medium amount of nutrition. However, there is usually a plant suitable for almost any situation, from sunny, warm and dry to shaded, wet and cold.
Visit our 'Plants for Auckland' database for the easiest shrubs to grow in Auckland. You can search for shrubs for seasonal displays, as well as shrubs that have attractive berries, bark, foliage, flowers and seed heads. We have also listed the best camellias for Auckland (one of our favourites).
How to plant
- Rhododendrons and many South African species such as proteas often fail in Auckland’s heavy clay soils. Suitable growing conditions can be provided by raising the planting area with additional free-draining topsoil prior to planting.
- Shrubs are best planted in autumn when the ground is still warm with a long wet period to follow, allowing them to establish before summer.
- Always plant at the same depth as they are in the container.
- Select your site carefully as once they become large, most shrubs are difficult to move successfully.
- At planting it is beneficial to work compost into the soil prior, apply a balanced fertiliser and water in, then add a layer of mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
How to grow
- Avoid fertilising proteas, leucadendrons and other members of the Protea family.
- Some shrubs will require annual pruning, whereas others will only need it every few years. Prune flowering shrubs once flowering is finished. Tender shrubs should not be pruned until spring once the last frost has occurred.
- Some shrubs can be successfully grown from cuttings; others can be trickier.
Top image: Hydrangea macrophylla 'Red Emperor'