A Guide for Selecting Shrubs for Pennsylvania Landscapes

Information for over 100 shrubs, including: the selection and aesthetic qualities of shrubs, and shrubs for specific conditions.
A Guide for Selecting Shrubs for Pennsylvania Landscapes - Articles

Updated: July 8, 2005

A Guide for Selecting Shrubs for Pennsylvania Landscapes

Oakleaf hydrangea in full bloom. Notice the shape of the leaves. Photo: T. Butzler, Penn State

Introduction

A well-rounded landscape design balances the use and placement of evergreen and deciduous plant materials. Evergreen shrubs add an air of permanence and continuity to the landscape while deciduous flowering shrubs impart a constantly renewed and changing series of focal points that move throughout the landscape with the changing seasons. The selection and placement of shrubs on your property will serve to unify the total landscape design while offering unique characteristics and features for each of the chosen rooms within the landscape.

Shrubs frequently act as intermediate units working in partnership with the ornamental trees to provide scale and structure for the larger shade trees and the people and animals that interact with the landscape. Carefully selecting shrubs for specific landscape function and characteristics with an eye toward adaptability to the site and future maintenance requirements can result in a collection that is aesthetically pleasing, functional, and long lasting. Most shrubs can serve as border plants, accent plants with seasonal color, or as screening for privacy.

The deciduous and evergreen shrubs described in this publication were selected to provide a broad perspective of the landscape plants available for use in Pennsylvania. The plants and cultivars listed are intended to assist landscape designers and gardeners in choosing plants to meet size limitations, aesthetic interests (e.g., flower color and period, fruit color and period, textural characteristics, foliage color, and overall plant form) and to provide information on the environmental requirements of the plants to ensure success in the landscape. The list is not an exhaustive or complete list of plants useful and adaptable to Pennsylvania conditions. The cultivars (cultivated varieties) and species listed represent some of the better ornamental plants and the diversity of plants available in the marketplace.

In working with this list and further investigating the shrubs listed through available books and Internet resources, it is important to carefully choose plants based on their cultural and environmental requirements, their ultimate size and adaptability to the site, as well as their seasons of interest and aesthetic value (e.g., flower, fruit, foliage color and texture, and bark color). By carefully planning and knowing the site conditions (e.g., soil texture, pH, drainage, and compaction; prevailing winds; sun and shade patterns throughout the day and seasons; and average minimum and maximum temperatures for the area and seasons) plant selection can be made easier, design intentions can be met, and maintenance problems may be reduced or avoided.

This guide is organized in two parts by deciduous shrubs and evergreen shrubs as well as by relative ultimate height to be expected for the plants listed (less the 3 feet, 3-5 feet, 5-10 feet). Initial selection of a plant that best fits the size restrictions of the site is the correct approach rather than attempting to control the growth of a plant with an ultimate size larger than its position in the landscape (e.g., a 15-foot-tall shrub in front of the picture window). In choosing plants based on size, it is also important to consider form. Listed plants are also described by form (rounded, mounded, creeper, spreading, columnar, pyramidal) to provide information on spread and overall habits that are available with a given species. Choosing plants by form as well as height will ensure that a mounded or broad-spreading plant is less likely to be placed in a narrow space or planted too closely to a sidewalk, which would require severe pruning or removal at a later date to allow sidewalk access and to prevent the loss of the design intent.

Plants are listed by botanical and common name with representative cultivars and whether the plant is native to Pennsylvania (*). In addition, each plant has a hardiness zone designation, which indicates the coldest area in which the plant will live. The lower the hardiness-zone number assigned to a plant, the hardier the plant and the colder the area. Within limits, hardy plants can be moved into warmer zones but not colder zones. Sometimes when hardy plants are moved into very warm zones, the plant does not receive adequate winter cold to mature the flower buds and subsequent fruit crop.

Cold hardiness is given considerable attention, but total hardiness for the area should not be overlooked. Total hardiness is defined as a plant's ability to survive and thrive under a given set of conditions. If a plant cannot do well in all seasons, it is not totally hardy in that particular location. Total hardiness can be affected by temperature (summer and winter), available moisture, soil types, soil acidity, air pollution, or available light for the foliage.

The hardiness zones within Pennsylvania are shown on the accompanying map. Zone numbers following plant names in this publication refer to those shown on this map. Shrubs with a zone number lower than 5 will be hardy in all areas of Pennsylvania.

Plant Hardiness Zones in Pennsylvania

To further assist with plant selection using this guide, information on site preferences, tolerances, and flower and foliage characteristics are provided in the following tables. Unfortunately, it is not possible to discuss all the characteristics of the plants in this publication. The topics mentioned here are those that tend to have a major impact on the value and usefulness of the plant in a landscape design. For more detailed information, consult plant books (a list of resources is provided at the end of this publication) and trusted plant Web sites and, most important, visit local botanic gardens, arboreta, and nurseries to see the plants and evaluate their characters directly.

Deciduous Shrubs

Less than 3 feet tall

Deciduous Shrubs, less than 3 feet tall
Botanical NameCultivarCommon NameZoneFormAdaptation and Remarks
Abelia x grandiflora'Prostrata'Prostrate glossy abelia5MoundedPrefers acidic, moist, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. May be a winter dieback shrub in zone 5. Funnel-shaped white to pink flowers on new growth from May-June through frost.
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi*Bearberry2CreeperPrefers sun to part shade, dry, acidic sites, and sandy soils. Dark green foliage changes to bronze red in fall and winter.
Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea'Crimson Pygmy'Crimson pygmy barberry5MoundedPrefers full sun. Adaptable to soil conditions. Tolerates dry and urban conditions. Intolerant of extremely wet sites. Reddish to bronze foliage color in early spring. Yellow flowers in mid-May. Branches are spiny. Invasive research has reported this cultivar to be less seedy.
Chaenomeles japonicaJapanese quince5SpreadingDensely branched, thorny low barrier plant adaptable to soil conditions. May become chlorotic at high pH. Performs well in dry soils. Prefers full sun to partial shade. Flowers orange red to scarlet on one-year wood mid-April to early May. Not as ornamental as common quince.
Cotoneaster apiculatusCranberry cotoneaster4MoundedPrefers moist, well-drained soils, including light sands and heavy clay soils. Adaptable to a wide range of soil pH. Displays good drought and salt tolerance. Dark glossy green leaves during the season accented by pinkish flowers in May-June and red fruit in Aug.-Sept. Can be a trash and debris collector.
Cotoneaster horizontalisRockspray cotoneaster5CreeperDeciduous to semi-evergreen. Pink flowers in mid-June. Red fruit in Sept.-Nov. Lustrous green foliage turns red to purple in fall.
Deutzia gracilis'Nikko'Nikko slender deutzia5MoundedBest moved in spring. Adaptable to soil pH and general garden soils. Prefers full sun. Will require renewal pruning over time. White flowers in late May. Green foliage turning deep burgundy in the fall.
Diervilla rivularisGeorgia bush-honeysuckle5SpreadingAdaptable to conditions. Trumpet flowers opening lemon yellow maturing yellow red in dense panicles in June-August on current season's growth. Dark green leaves turn yellow red in fall.
Forsythia viridissima'Broxensis'Bronx greenstem forsythia5MoundedAdaptable to a range of soil conditions. Prefers full sun. Tolerates urban conditions. Stiff, green stems reach 1 inch tall. Dark green serrated leaves and primrose yellow flowers late March to April.
Forsythia x
'Arnold Dwarf'
Arnold dwarf forsythia6MoundedConditions similar to above 'Bronxensis' and hybrid forsythia. Sparse flowers of green yellow to pale yellow in March-April.
Hypericum kalmianumKalm St. Johnswort5RoundedPrefers full sun, dry rocky soils, pH adaptable; exfoliating bark; shiny brown twigs; bright yellow flowers, early May; blue green foliage turning yellow and/or orange in fall.
Indigofera kirilowiiKirilow indigo5Erect, suckeringAdaptable to soil conditions. Rose or white flowers densely covering long erect racemes on new growth in June-July. Bright green foliage. A dieback shrub in severe winters rebounds with rapid regrowth in the spring.
Rhus aromatica*'Gro-low'Gro-low sumac2SpreadingPrefers acid, well-drained soils. Tolerates some shade. Excellent groundcover for banks and slopes. Glossy green foliage turning red to reddish purple in the fall.
Spiraea japonica
(formerly Spiraea x bumalda)
'Dolchica'
'Goldflame'
'Little Princess'
'Magic Carpet'
Japanese spirea4RoundedTolerates soil conditions, except wet. Prefers full sun. Numerous cultivars with foliage emerging pink to reddish and changing to dark blue green, variegated, or yellow to yellow gold based on cultivar. Crimson flowers in late June.
Stephanandra incisa'Crispa'Cutleaf stephanandra5MoundedPrefers moist, well-drained, acidic soil; full sun to light shade, and wind protection. Inconspicuous yellowish white flowers in mid-June.
Viburnum opulus var. opulus'Compactum'
'Nanum'
'Losely's Compact'
Dwarf cranberrybush4GlobeVery adaptable to soil conditions. Fruits best in full sun. Red stem color. Glossy green foliage in the summer turning yellow-red to reddish purple in the fall. White flowers in late May. Bright red persistent berry in Sept.-Oct. The listed cultivars have been reported to be less seedy with low seed viability.
Xanthorhiza simplicissima*Yellow-root5Creeper, erectPrefers acid, moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Lustrous bright green pinnately compound leaves turning yellow to orange fall color. Inconspicuous flowers in long racemes in March and April.

* Pennsylvania native

3-5 feet tall

Deciduous Shrubs, 3 to 5 feet tall
Botanical NameCultivarCommon NameZoneFormAdaptation and Remarks
Abelia x grandifloraGlossy abelia6MoundedSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Amelanchier stolonifera*Running serviceberry4Suckering, uprightPrefers full sun to partial shade; acidic, moist, well-drained soils; and tolerates dry conditions. Similar characteristics to larger Amelanchier species with white flowers prior to leaf out and purplish fruit. Forms a thicket and has had limited ornamental trade development.
Berberis thunbergiiJapanese barberry5MoundedTolerant of shade, dry soils; yellow flowers, mid-May; thorny; red fruit (Oct.-Mar.); red fall foliage color. Good hedge plant.
Berberis thunbergii'Aurea'Japanese barberry5MoundedVivid yellow leaves. Dense, slow growing. Turns yellow green in shade. Invasive research has reported this cultivar to be less seedy.
Callicarpa dichotoma'Early Amethyst'
'Issai'
'Albifructus'
Purple beautyberry5MoundedPrefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Flowers are produced on new growth, allowing for renewal pruning. Pink to lavender flowers are borne on cymes above the foliage in June-Aug. Fruit are white to magenta in Sept.- Oct. Foliage consists of medium green leaves borne in one plant along stems
Callicarpa japonicaJapanese beautyberry5MoundedSimilar preferences as C. dichotoma.
Ceanothus americanus*New Jersey tea4Broad, roundedPrefers full sun, well-drained soils. Tolerates dry sites and shade. White panicle flowers at branch tips in June-July.
Chaenomeles speciosaCommon flowering quince4UprightAdaptable to soil conditions and performs well in dry soils. Prefers full sun to partial shade. Chlorotic in high pH soils. Five-petaled scarlet to red single or double-flowered forms on old wood in March and April. Pome fruit in fall edible with cooking or used for preserves. Moderately spiny.
Comptonia peregrina*Sweetfern4RoundedDifficult to transplant. Prefers organic, shady, sterile, acid soils in full sun or partial shade. Inconspicuous flowers. Aromatic foliage is dark green during the season until leaf drop.
Corylopsis paucifloraButtercup winterhazel6SpreadingRequires protection from wind and prefers full sun and high-pH soils. Fragrant primrose flowers in late April.
Corylopsis spicataSpike winterhazel5SpreadingSimilar cultural conditions. Crooked, flexible branches. Yellow, fragrant flowers in pendulous racemes in April.
Daphne x burkwoodii'Carol Mackie'Carol Mackie burkwood daphne4MoundedEarly spring planting. Does not move easily. Prefers well-drained, moist, nearly neutral soils in light shade and protected from winter with snow or pine bows. Cream-edged leaves and fragrant, light pink flowers in May. Short lived.
Daphne mezereumFebruary daphne5UprightTolerant of shade. Rosy purple flowers in early April. Semi-evergreen. See planting conditions above.
Deutzia gracilisSlender deutzia5MoundedWhite flowers in late May. See previous description
Dasiphora fruticosa*Bush or shrubby cinquefoil4MoundedEasy to grow. Tolerates poor sites, dry soil, and cold. Prefers sun. Yellow flowers in mid-May. Formerly listed in the genus Potentilla.
Diervilla sessifoliaSouthern bush-honeysuckle4SpreadingAdaptable to conditions. Sulfur yellow trumpet flowers in June-August on current season's growth.
Eubotrys racemosa*Sweetbells, fetterbush5MoundedPrefers moist to wet areas in partial shade to shade. This suckering native related to leucothoe has bright green, shallow-toothed leaves that turn red in the fall. White to pinkish cylindrical flowers on short racemes in May-June.
Forsythia suspensaWeeping forsythia5MoundedGrowing conditions similar to other forsythia species (see F. x intermedia). Yellow flowers in mid-April.
Fothergilla gardenii'Eastern Form'Dwarf fothergilla5RoundedPrefers acidic, organic sandy loam, well-drained soils in partial shade to full sun. White fragrant flowers on a squat bottlebrush spike in May prior to leaf out. Dark green to bluish green summer foliage turns brilliant yellow to scarlet throughout the plant in the fall in Oct.-Nov. Numerous cultivars.
Hydrangea arborescens*Smooth hydrangea4Broad, moundedTransplants readily. Adaptable to soil pH and conditions. Prefers partial shade but with good soil moisture will grow well. Flowers on new wood and can be mowed to rejuvenate.
Hydrangea arborescens*'Annabelle'Smooth hydrangea4Broad, moundedWhite, 1-inch-diameter flower clusters on erect branches in June-July.
Hydrangea arborescens*'Grandiflora'Smooth hydrangea4Broad, moundedWhite 6- to 8-inch-diameter flower clusters in mid-June-July.
Ilex verticillata*Winterberry5UprightDioecious. Tolerant of acid and wet soils. Inconspicuous flowers. Red fruit in Aug.-Nov.
Ilex verticillata*'Redsprite'Winterberry5Compact, roundedLarger fruit than other cultivars. Can be pollinated by 'Apollo' or 'Jim Dandy' male forms.
Itea virginica*Virginia sweetspire5ErectTolerates wet soils. White, lightly fragrant flowers borne on dense upright racemes in late May to June. Fall foliage color varies from yellow to orange, reddish purple and scarlet. Will form large colonies.
Itea virginica*'Little Henry'Virginia sweetspire5CompactSame as directly above
Jasminum nudiflorumWinter jasmine6MoundedVery adaptable to poor soils and dry sites. Prefers full sun. Tip layers to spread. Nice green bark, esp. in winter. Yellow flowers in late March.
Kerria japonicaJapanese kerria6MoundedPrefers loamy, well-drained soils with moderate fertility and light to partial shade. Stems may suffer winter injury and rabbit damage. Attractive green bark. Yellow flowers in mid-May. Yellow and/or orange fall color.
Prunus glandulosa 'Sinensis'Dwarf flowering Almond5MoundedPrefers full sun and well-drained soil. Noted mostly for its double pink flowers in early May. No fruit. One-season ornamental value.
Rhododendron x kosteranumMollis azalea6RoundedPrefers moist, well-drained, acidic, highly organic soils. Flowers are yellow to red and appear in late May. Leaves have a hairy upper surface margins and glandular tip.
Rhododendron periclymenoides*Pinxterbloom azalea5RoundedAdapted to dry, sandy, rocky soils. Prefers moist, acidic soils. Flowers pink in late May. Leaves are bright green in summer and turn dull yellow in fall. Stoloniferous.
Rhododendron viscosum*Swamp azalea4RoundedPrefers moist, acidic soils. Found growing on freshwater pond edges. Flowers with a clove scent mid-May-June. Leaves lustrous green.
Rhododendron yedoensis var. poukhanensisKorean azalea5RoundedPrefers similar conditions to azaleas described above. Dark green foliage turns orange to red purple in fall. Purple flowers in mid-May.
Rhodotypos scandensJetbead6Rounded, spreadingVery adaptable to soil conditions tolerating full or shade and that are crowded and polluted. White flowers in mid-May. Bright green foliage may be confused with Kerria. Black fruit in clusters of four.
Rosa blanda*Smooth rose2UprightCold-hardy, native rose requiring well-drained soils. Nearly thornless except near leaf bases. Single pink flowers in May-June. Red fruit in fall.
Rosa carolina*Carolina rose4SuckeringCommon in rocky banks, dry, shale barren sites. Upright, native rose. Solitary large pink flowers in May-July. Armed with straight prickles.
Rosa rugosaRugosa rose2RoundedTolerant of dry soil, salt, and full-sun conditions. Textured upper leaf surface in dull to dark green. Deep pink flowers in early June.
Rosa setigera*Prairie rose4Broad, moundedLarge, spreading native rose found in sandy soils. Single, rose-colored flowers in June-July. Bearing stout, curved prickles. Not suited to small gardens.
Rosa virginiana*Virginia rose3Mounded, suckeringHandsome native rose. Found in open woods, thickets, and roadsides. Armed with straight to slightly curved prickles. Solitary and fragrant magenta to pink single flowers. Glossy dark green foliage turns purple then orange red, crimson, and yellow in fall. Reddish canes. Good as a barrier plant in sandy soils and where salt is a problem.
Spiraea japonicaJapanese spirea6RoundedSee earlier notes on growing conditions.
Spiraea japonica'Anthony Waterer'Anthony waterer spirea6RoundedLustrous dark green upper eaves, pubescent lower along veins; crimson flowers, mid- to late June.
Spiraea x cinerea'Grefsheim'Ashy spirea4MoundedSmall white flowers covering leafless branches in April. See early notes on spirea for cultural information.
Spiraea nipponica'Snowmound'Snowmound spirea4MoundedSmall, dark blue green leaves and white flowers in late May-June. See notes on spirea for cultural information.
Spirea thunbergiiThunberg spirea5MoundedWhite flowers in early May. Yellow and/or orange fall color. See notes on spirea for cultural information.
Symphoricarpos albus*Snowberry4MoundedEasily transplanted. Very tolerant of soils. Native to limestone and clay. Full sun to shade. Pink flowers on current season's wood in mid-July. Red fruit in Sept.-Nov. Bluish green summer leaf color. Suckers profusely.
Symphoricarpos x chenaultiiChenault coralberry5RoundedFruit colors better in shade. Pink flowers in mid-July. Red fruit in Sept.-Nov. Leaves are blue green and tinted red to purple in fall.
Viburnum acerifollium*Mapleleaf viburnum4MoundedPrefers and requires shade. Cream white flowers in mid-June. Black fruit. Maple-like three-lobed leaves are dark green in summer and turn red to purple in fall. Suckers create a large mound.
Viburnum carlesii Koreanspice viburnum5RoundedPrefers well-drained, evenly moist, acidic soils, and full sun to partial shade. Tolerant of urban settings. Pink in bud, flowers opening white to pink and fragrant in mid-May. Leaves appear dusty green due to hairs and turn red to red purple in fall.

* Pennsylvania native

5-9 feet tall

Deciduous shrubs, 5-9 feet tall
Botanical NameCultivarCommon NameZoneFormAdaptation and Remarks
Berberis mentorensisMentor barberry6UprightTolerant of dry soils. Yellow flowers in mid-May. Thorny. Very dark green leaves turn red in fall, color, and drop in late winter.
Buddleia davidii'Nanho Alba'
'Black Knight'
'Harlequin'
'Honeycomb'
'Pink Delight'
Butterfly bush5Upright, archingPrefers well-drained, moist, fertile soils, and full sun. Tolerates urban environment. Durable. May be weedy and should be considered a dieback shrub in zone 5. Flowers vary from lavender, lilac to purple, white to yellow based on cultivars in June-Aug. Gray green to blue green foliage. Numerous cultivars. Has escaped cultivation and is considered invasive in some states.
Calycanthus floridus*Sweetshrub5RoundedPrefers deep, moist, loam soils. Adaptable to acid or alkaline soils and sun or shade. Dark green leaves turn dull yellow in the fall. Red brown flowers in mid-May.
Cercis chinensis'Don Egolf'
'Alba'
Chinese redbud6Vase, roundedSimilar conditions to eastern redbud; moist but well-drained, acidic, deep soils; light shade; and some protection from winter winds. Flowers rosy purple or white depending on cultivar along erect, numerous stems in April-May. Leaves are thicker, darker green than eastern redbud.
Chaenomeles speciosaFlowering quince5RoundedSee earlier notes on growing conditions. Tolerant of dry soil. Thorny. Red, orange, pink, or white flowers in early May.
Clethra alnifolia*Summersweet5Oval, uprightPrefers moist, acid, high-organic-matter soils. Tolerant of wet soils and shade. Gray bark. Fragrant white or pink flowers depending on cultivar in late July. Yellow and/or orange fall color.
Cornus albaTartarian dogwood4MoundedPrefers moist, well-drained, soils, sun or shade. Adaptable of soil conditions. Red bark. Cream white flowers in late May. White fruit. Red fall color.
Cornus alba'Argentio-marginata'Tartarian dogwood4MoundedLeaves with narrow, white margins.
Cornus alba'Sibirica'Tartarian dogwood4MoundedBright red young stems. Bluish white fruit.
Cornus amomum*Silky dogwood4RoundedPrefers moist soils, partially shaded, woods' edge locations. Yellow-white flowers in May-June. Young stems are reddish purple. Useful for massing and background plantings.
Cornus sericea*Redosier dogwood4RoundedAdaptable to a wide range of soils and environments. Tolerant of wet soils. White flowers in late May. Medium green leaves turn red to purple in fall. Red stems.
Cotoneaster divaricataSpreading cotoneasterMoundedPrefers moist, well-drained, loose, and fertile soils and full sun to light shade. Tolerant of dry sites after establishment. Fine-textured foliage, dark green in summer and turns various shades of yellow, red, purple in fall. Pink flowers in late May. Red fruit in Sept.-Nov. May die back in severe winters.
Deutzia x lemoineiLemoine deutzia6RoundedWhite flowers in late May. See earlier notes on culture conditions.
Euonymus alatus cultivarsWinged euonymus5SpreadingPrefers well-drained soil. Generally adaptable to soil conditions and environments. Corky winged twigs. Exfoliating bark. Inconspicuous flowers produce orange to red capsule fruit. Red fall foliage color. Has escaped cultivation and is considered invasive in some states.
Forsythia x intermedia cultivarsBorder forsythia5Arching, moundedAdaptable to soil conditions and pH. Tolerates urban conditions. Full sun required to maximize flowering. Yellow flowers in mid-April.
Fothergilla major'Mt. Airy'
'Arkansas Beauty'
'Blue Shadow'
Large fothergilla4RoundedRequires acid soils. Multiseason color with fragrant, white, bottlebrush flower spikes in April-May and blue green to dark green leaves that change to a mix of yellow, orange, and scarlet in the fall.
Hamamelis vernalisVernal witchhazel4RoundedPrefers moist, gravely soils and full sun to partial shade. pH adaptable. Flowers yellow to reddish yellow in Jan.-March.
Hibiscus syriacusRose-of-Sharon5Erect, ovalPrefers moist well-drained, organic soils; full sun to partial shade; and hot conditions. Adaptable to soil pH, soil conditions except extremes of wet or dry. Five-petaled flowers of white to red to purple to violet or combinations, single or double flowers from July to Sept. Late to leaf out. Foliage is medium to dark green and changes to yellow in the fall. Numerous cultivars. This standard flowering shrub has remained popular.
Hydrangea quercifoliaOakleaf hydrangea5Upright, irregularPrefers moist, well-drained, fertile soils, and sun or parital shade. Tender in zone 5 and may need winter protection. Deep green, hairy to glossy leaves turn reddish to purple in the fall. White flowers in mid-July.
Hydrangea quercifolia'Alice'Oakleaf hydrangea5Upright, irregularWhite flowers age to pink in color. Older plants may reach 12 feet tall.
Hydrangea quercifolia'Pee Wee'Oakleaf hydrangea5Upright, irregularCompact, from 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Good for small yards.
Hydrangea quercifolia'Snowflake'Oakleaf hydrangea5Upright, irregularPrefers shade. Multiple bracts create a double flower appearance.
Hydrangea quercifolia'Snow Queen'Oakleaf hydrangea5Upright, irregularHardy to -22°F. Deep red bronze fall foliage color.
Ilex verticillata* and related hybridsWinterberry5UprightPrefers acid soils and tolerates wet and heavy soils. Dioecious. Inconspicuous flowers. Red fruit in Aug.-Nov. with best fruit set in full sun. Numerous female and male cultivars. One compatible male can serve as pollen source for ten females in a mass planting.
Morella pensylvanica*Northern bayberry4Upright, suckeringVery adaptable to sandy and clay, fertile soils. Prefers full sun to partial shade. Intolerant of high-pH soils. Dioecious. Inconspicuous flowers. Lustrous green leaves (semievergreen) may turn red to purple fall color but not consistently. Gray, fragrant fruit in Sept.-March. Formerly listed in the genus Myrica.
Paeonia suffruticosaTree peony5RoundedPrefers moist, well-drained soils with full sun but late day light shade and winter protection. pH adaptable. Numerous cultivars are available with single or double flowers in colors from white to yellow, bronze, or pink to red, from 4 to 12 inches in diameter in May-June. Foliage is dull blue green.
Philadelphus x lemoinei

x virginalis
Lemoine mockorange

Virginalis mockorange
5ArchingAdaptable to soil conditions. Prefers moist, well-drained organic soils in full sun to light shade. Fragrant white flowers in mid-June.
Photinia melanocarpa*Black chokeberry5Rounded, suckeringEasily transplanted. Prefers good drainage and full sun to partial shade. Adaptable to soil types. Tolerant of dry and wet conditions.White flowers in late May. Black fruit in Oct.-Dec. Leaves are glossy dark green and turn maroon red in the fall. Formerly listed in the genus Aronia.
Photinia pyrifolia*Red chokeberry5ErectTolerant of shade, wet soils. White flowers, late May; leaves bright green resembling crabapple and turning bright red in the fall; red fruit (Nov.-Dec.). Formerly listed in the genus Aronia.
Physocarpus opulifolius*Ninebark2VaseAdaptable to soil types and pH. Tolerant of dry soil and semishade. Exfoliating bark. Coarse, white flowers in early June. Yellow and/or orange fall color.
Physocarpus opulifolius*'Monlo'Ninebark2VaseDusky reddish purple summer foliage and white to cream-colored flowers.
Physocarpus opulifolius*'Dart's Gold'Ninebark2VaseCompact, yellow foliage.
Prunus x cistenaPurple-leaved sand cherry3UprightAdaptable to soils and pH. Prefers full sun. Fragrant pink to white flowers in April-May contrast nicely against the reddish purple foliage.
Rhododendron 'Northern Lights'Northern Lights azalea series3SpreadingPrefers full sun, moist, acidic soils. Large, flowers range in color based on cultivar (pink, white, orange, yellow, lilac, and deep pink).
Rhododendron vaseyi*Pinkshell azalea4UprightPrefers acidic, well-drained soils. Flowers rose to white in mid -May. Medium green leaves change from light to deep red in the fall.
Rosa xanthina forma hugonisFather Hugonis rose5RoundedAdaptable to conditions. Single canary yellow flowers in May-June. Canes are reddish green with scattered thorns. An old garden rose, a bit ragged looking when not in flower.
Salix gracilistylaRose-gold pussy willow5RoundedAs with most willows, prefers moist soil from acid to neutral in pH in full sun. Dioecious. Long male catkins are red to pink prior to anthers turning yellow. Leaves are blue gray. Suited to small landscapes.
Salix gracilistyla
var. melanostachys
Black pussy willow5RoundedMale catkins open deep purple to black with red anthers that turn yellow with time. Winter stem color is purple to black.
Shepherdia canadensis*Russett buffaloberry2RoundedDioecious. Tolerates alkaline, dry, poor soils in full sun. Small, yellowish, nonshowy flowers on short axillary spikes in April-May. Fruit a red drupe in June and July. Foliage silver green to gray green with no fall color.
Sorbaria sorbifoliaUral falsespirea3Upright, suckeringPrefers full sun to light shade and moist, well-drained organic soils. pH adaptable. White flowers on terminal panicles produced on new wood in late June-July. Will spread and may need boundaries.
Spiraea prunifoliaBridalwreath spirea5UprightOld garden favorite. White flowers, mid-May prior to leaf out. Orange to red fall color.
Spiraea x vanhoutteiVanhoutte spirea5VasePrefers sun. White flowers in late May. Arching branches.
Spirea billiardiiBilliard spirea4UprightSun. Rose flowers in late June.
Syringa meyeri'Palabin'Meyer lilac3Broadly roundedAdaptable to soil conditions. Prefers sun. Requires little maintenance and flowers at an early age. Mildew resistant and heat tolerant. Violet purple flowers on densely packed panicles in May. Flowers before leaves are fully open.
Syringa microphyllaLittleleaf lilac6RoundedAdaptable, heat tolerant, and mildew resistant. Pink flowers in late May.
Syringa patula'Miss Kim'Miss Kim lilac4RoundedPrefers full sun. More vigorous than S. meyeri. Purple buds open to fragrant bluish flowers often two panicles per branch in May-June. Dense and fine textured. Reddish purple fall color.
Syringa villosaLate lilac3RoundedPrefers full sun. Rosy lilac flowers in early June.
Viburnum x burkwoodiiBurkwood viburnum5Open, uprightPrefers well-drained, slightly acid soils but generally adaptable to soil pH and urban settings. Pink flowers in mid-May. Leaves drop in late winter.
Viburnum x carlcephalumCarlcephalum viburnum5Open, roundedA V. carlesii hybrid with similar summer leaf features and site preferences. Flowers pink in bud opening. Fragrant and white in May.
Viburnum dilatatumLinden viburnum5UprightCream-white flowers in early June. Red to purple fall color. Red fruit in Aug.-March.
Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides*
Witherod viburnum5RoundedDark green foliage turns orange red to dull crimson in the fall. Creamy white flowers in June-July on flat-topped cymes. Fruit changes from green to pink, red, blue to black in September. Good for mass plantings and naturalizing backdrops.
Viburnum nudum
var. nudum*
'Bulk'
'Winterthur'
Smooth witherod5RoundedLustrous green leaves. Very floriferous with white, musky-scented flowers on flat-topped cymes. Fall foliage color can be outstanding, varying from muted orange to wine red. To ensure a good fruit set and display, intermix within a planting of 'Winterthur' with 'Bulk' (aka Brandywine) or the species. Plants tend to be self-sterile.
Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosumDoublefile viburnum5Broad, rounded*Numerous cultivars. Will not tolerate poorly drained and heavy clay soils. White flowers in late May. Red fruit in July-Aug. Red fall color. Distinct horizontal branching habit.
Vitex agnus-castus'Shoal Creek'Chastetree6Upright, roundedTolerant of dry soil. Pale violet flowers in mid-Aug. Gray foliage color. Winter dieback shrub.
Weigela florida spp.Weigela5SpreadingWell-drained soil. White to pink, funnel-shaped flowers in mid-May.

* Pennsylvania native

9-15 feet

Deciduous shrubs, 9-15 feet tall
Botanical NameCultivarCommon NameZoneFormAdaptation and Remarks
Aesculus parvifloraBottlebrush buckeye4MoundedPrefers acidic, well-drained, organic soil and full sun to partial shade. White flowers on 12-inch-long panicles in June-July. A wide-spreading suckering shrub, good for massing.
Cephalanthus occidentalis*Buttonbush5RoundedPrefers moist to wet soils; intolerant to dry soils. Creamy white flowers on a globular head in late July. Persistent round nutlet. Glossy green to dark green foliage appears late spring.
Cornus racemosa*Gray dogwood5ErectTolerant of shade and dry soils. Gray bark. Cream white flowers in mid-June. White fruit in Aug. Medium to dark green foliage turns red to purple in the fall.
Corylus americana*American filbert4Rounded, leggyPrefers full sun to light shade. pH adaptable. Showy, yellow brown male catkins in March. Produces a nut in Sept.-October. Not appropriate for small yards. Squirrels love the nuts.
Corylus avellanaEuropean filbert4Rounded, suckeringNut producer.
Corylus avellana'Contorta'Harry Lauder's walkingstick4Rounded, suckeringTwisted stems. Suckers heavily from understock with straight stems. Requires regular pruning to prevent loss of contorted character.
Euonymus atropurpureus*Eastern wahoo4Flat-topped, moundedPrefers moist soil and shaded sites. Small purplish flowers May-June. Orange to purple fall color. Native burningbush.
Hamamelis mollis and hybridsChinese witchhazel5Oval, roundedPrefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. Fragrant yellow to red brown flowers in Feb.-March.
Hamamelis virginiana*Witchhazel5SpreadingSimilar cultural conditions as vernal witchhazel. Tolerant of shade. Intolerant of dry soil. Yellow flowers in early Oct. Ornamental dry fruit. Lustrous, scalloped-edged, medium green leaf turns yellow and/or orange in the fall.
Hydrangea paniculataPanicle hydrangea3Upright, moundedPrefers moist, well-drained soils and sun to partial shade. Adaptable and urban tolerant. White panicle flowers turn purple pink in mid-July-Sept. on new wood. Numerous cultivars.
Kolkwitizia amabilisBeauty bush5Upright, leggyPrefers well-drained soil and full sun. pH adaptable. Tolerant of dry soil. Exfoliating bark. Dull, dark green leaves turn slightly yellow in fall. Pink flowers in early June.
Lindera benzoin*Spicebush5RoundedPrefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. Tolerant of dry sites after establishment. Dioecious. Green-yellow flowers in mid-April. Red fruit. Light green summer foliage turns yellow and/or orange in the fall.
Philadelphus coronariusSweet mockorange5RoundedAdaptable to soil conditions. Prefers moist, well-drained organic soils in full sun to light shade. Fragrant white flowers in early June are the attraction for this plant. Fades into the background after flower.
Rhus glabra*Smooth sumac3Mounded, suckeringTolerates dry, poor soils. Prevalent in low maintenance areas and roadsides. Green to dark green foliage changes to yellow, orange-red, to purple combinations in the fall. Flower panicles long with greenish yellow dioecious flowers in June-July, with female flowers producing a hairy scarlet drupe fruit persisting into winter.
Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis*American black elderberry5Rounded, archingEasily transplanted. Prefers wet soils but tolerates dry conditions. Adaptable to soil pH. Cream white flowers in late June. Purple black berry-like drupe on large head in Aug.-Sept. Dark green leaves change to yellow and/or orange in fall. Suckers heavily and can produce an unkempt appearance.
Sambucus nigra subsp. nigraEuropean black elderberry5Rounded, archingLarger than native shrub reaching 20-30 feet. Leaves are darker green and many new cultivars released with yellow or purple foliage.
Staphylea trifolia*American bladdernut4Upright, suckeringPrefers moist, well-drained soils, and shaded sites. Greenish white flowers in April-May give rise to three-lobed balloon-like green fruit in Sept. Foliage changes from bright green to dark green and finishes off dull yellow in fall.
Syringa x chinensisChinese lilac6VasePrefers moist, well-drained soils. Tolerates alkaline soil. Purple lilac flowers in late May. Fine-textured foliage similar to common lilac. Subject to mildew. Good screening plant.
Syringa vulgaris cultivarsCommon lilac5Upright, leggyPrefers well-drained soil and full sun. Pink purple flowers in mid-May. Elongated, heart-shaped, dark green to bluish green foliage subject to mildew.
Viburnum lantanoides*Hobblebush5Mounded, leggyPrefers partial to full shade and moist sites. Medium to dark green, coarse-textured leaves turn red to deep red in the fall. White flowers in early May.
Viburnum dentatum*'Christom'
'Emerald Lustre'
'Morton'
'Ralph Senior'
Arrowwood viburnum5Vase, suckeringPrefers moist, well-drained soils, full sun to parital shade; adaptable to soil texture and pH; tolerant of wet soils, shade; cream-white flowers, early June; blue fruit; dark green leaves turning yellow to maroon in the fall. Very susceptible to viburnum leaf beetle.
Viburnum lantanaWayfaring Tree5UprightPrefers loamy, moist soils. Tolerates dry, calcareous soils. White flowers in mid-May. Red to black fruits. Red fall color. To ensure a good fruit display, plant more than one in a bed.
Viburnum opulus var. americanum*American cranberrybush2Upright, roundedGrowing conditions similar to variety opulus. Tolerant of wet soils. Gray bark. Lacy white flowers in early May. Red fruit in Aug.-Dec. Red fall foliage.
Viburnum opulus
var. sargentii
Sargent viburnum4UprightLacy white flowers. Persistent red fruit. Rough bark. New spring growth is bronze and changes to dark green. Coarse appearance.
Viburnum prunifolium*Blackhaw3SpreadingTolerant of shade. Adaptable to soil types. Single or multitrunked. White flowers in mid-May. Black fruit. Dark green lustrous leaves turn maroon in the fall. Powdery mildew susceptibility makes the leaves less attractive.
Viburnum rufidulumRusty blackhaw5SpreadingFull sun to partial shade. Drought tolerant. Lustrous dark green leaves with rusty pubescence undersides turn burgundy in the fall. Creamy white flowers in April-May and dark blue drupe fruit. Less susceptible to powdery mildew.
Viburnum setigerumTea viburnum5Upright, leggyCultural conditions similar to other viburnums listed. Cream white flowers, early June. Egg-shaped, bright red to orange drupe fruit. Heavy fruit set can cause arching habit.

* Pennsylvania native

Greater than 15 feet

Deciduous shrubs, taller than 15 feet
Botanical NameCommon NameZoneFormAdaptation and Remarks

Cornus mas

Corneliancherry dogwood

4

Oval, rounded

Adaptable to soils and pH. Prefers rich, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. Yellow flowers in umbels before leaf out in March. Flower buds may be injured or killed during some winters. Bright red drupe fruit in July. Dark, glossy green leaves change to purplish red in the fall.

Cotinus coggygria

Smokebush

5

Rounded

Prefers well-drained, loam soil, and sunny exposures. Adaptable to a wide range of soil textures and pH and dry and rocky sites. Purple foliage color. Dioecious. Greenish flowers in early June turn smoky red in late summer and fall. Gray fruit in June-Aug. Subject to verticillium wilt.

Enkianthus campanulatus

Redvein enkianthus

5

Upright, narrow

Prefers acid, moist, well-drained soils. Tolerates full sun to partial shade. Yellowish flowers in mid-May. Bright to medium green summer foliage turns brilliant yellow to red in fall.

Halesia tetraptera

Mountain/Carolina silverbell

5

Broad, rounded

Transplant as container-grown plant. Prefers high-organic, well-drained, moist, acidic soils and sun to semishade. White flowers before leaves in mid-May. Ornamental dry fruit. Dark yellowish green leaf in summer turns yellow and/ or orange in fall and drops early.

Hamamelis x intermedia

'Arnold's Promise'

Hybrid witchhazel

5

Upright, spreading

Prefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. Numerous cultivars produce fragrant flowers ranging in color from golden yellow to orange red to deep red in Feb.-March. Foliage similar to other witchhazels.

Photinia villosa

Oriental photinia

4

Vase, broad

Prefers well-drained acid soil and full sun to light shade. White flowers in late May. Red fruit in Sept.-Nov. Dark green foliage turns orange to orange red in fall. Fireblight suscepetible.

Poncirus trifoliata

Hardy orange

6

Oval

Prefers well-drained, acidic soils and full sun. Fragrant white flowers on previous year's growth in May. Edible, sour, yellow modified berry in Sept.-Oct. Very good barrier plant.

Rhus copallinum*

Winged/shining sumac

4

Broad, suckering

Colonizer useful on dry, rocky sites, banks. Lustrous dark green foliage in summer changes to rich crimson scarlet in fall. Flowers July-Aug. Green-yellow in long and weid panicles. Fruit a crimson drupe, fuzzy in Sept.-Oct. Requires a large area or control of spread.

Rhus typhina*

Staghorn sumac

5

Suckering

Prefers moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Intolerant of poorly drained soils. Tolerant of dry, sterile soils and urban conditions. Dioecious flowers of greenish yellow with female flowers in dense panicles in late June, crimson in late Aug., and persist through winter. Felty stems and bright green foliage turn yellow, orange, and scarlet in the fall.

Stewartia ovata

Mountain stewartia

5

Spreading

Difficult to transplant. Best to transplant early spring. Prefers highly organic, moist, acidic soil with sun most of the day except during hot periods. Perfect white flowers with crimped petals and white, orange to purple anthers in July-Aug.

Viburnum lentago*

Nannyberry

3

Arching, suckering

Adaptable to moist or dry soil and sun or shade (mildews in shade). White flowers in mid-May and form oval, bluish black drupe Sept.-Oct. Good for naturalizing and winter bird food.

Xanthocera sorbifolium

Yellowroot

4

Upright

Prefers full sun and loam soil. Adaptable.

* Pennsylvania native

Evergreen Shrubs

Less than 3 feet

Evergreen shrubs, less than 3 feet tall
Botanical NameCommon NameZoneFormAdaptation and Remarks
Buxus microphyllaLittleleaf boxwood5-6RoundedTolerant of light shade. Requires warm, moist, well-drained, slightly acid soils. Light glossy to dull green leaves during the growing season depending on species. Yellow or brown winter color. Needs winter wind protection. Useful in formal gardens, as topiary, and small hedge, or wherever a well-clipped broadleaf evergreen is needed
var. japonicaJapanese boxwood5-6
Buxus sinica var. insularis and hybridsKorean boxwood4-6
Buxus sempervirensCommon boxwood6Several cultivars and hybrids are usable in Pennsylvania. For details see Penn State Extension publication Boxwoods for Pennsylvania Landscapes.
Calluna vulgarisScotch heather4UprightPlant in spring. Prefers sandy, organic, moist, well-drained, acidic soils (pH 6) in protected sites with full sun to partial shade. Urn-shaped rosy to purple pink flowers July-Sept.
Chamaecyparis obtusa
'Nana'
Hinoki falsecypress5SpreadingPrefers moist well-drained soil, moderate humidity, sun, and wind protection; Adaptable to soil pH. 'Nana' is slow growing with shining, dark green foliage.
Chamaecyparis thyoides
'Compacta'
'Conica'
Atlantic whitecedar4ConicalPrefers moist, sandy soil, and full sun. Foliage of dwarf cultivars is green to blue green.
Cotoneaster dammeriBearberry cotoneaster5CreeperSemi-evergreen. Adaptable to conditions. Prefers well-drained soils. Lustrous, dark green leaves in summer-fall turn dull green to reddish purple in winter.
Erica carneaSpring/winter heath5MoundedRequires acid, moist, well-drained, organic, low fertility soils. Prefers full sun to partial shade. Flowers white to red on one-sided racemes in winter-spring.
Euonymus fortuneiWintercreeper euonymus5Mounded, creepingEasy to grow. Tolerates most soils, full sun, and heavy shade. Adaptable to soil pH. Intolerant of swampy, wet sites. Numerous cultivars, with foliage varying from blue green to green to variagated white or yellow; some cultivars turn plum red in winter. Groundcovers, vines, and small shrubs.
Ilex crenata
'Geisha'
'Hoogendorn'
'Kingville Green'
'Cushion'
'Midas Touch'
'Pride's Tiny'
'Repandens'
'Wayne'
Japanese holly6Mounded, spreadingPrefers light, moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil, full sun or light shade, protection from winter winds. Dioecious. Inconspicuous flowers. Black fruit in Sept.-Dec. Foliage lustrous dark green to flat green to yellow based on cultivar. Will tolerate severe pruning to maintain a dense form.
Ilex glabra*
'Georgia Wine'
'Green Billow'
Inkberry4Upright, moundedPrefers moist, acid soils, full sun. Tolerates wet soils and shade. Intolerant of heavy clay soils. Gray-green bark. Foliage lustrous dark or light green. Dioecious. Inconspicuous flowers. Females produce black fruit in Sept.-Feb.
Juniperus chinensis
'Arctic'
'Daub's Frosted'
'Gold Sovereign'
'Holbert'
'Kallays Compact'
'Pfitzeriana Moraine'
'Prostrata Variagata' 'Saybrook Gold'
'Sea Spray'
Chinese juniper5Creeping, moundedPrefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun. Adaptable to soil pH. Tolerates calcareous and dry soils once established. Needles consist of both adult scale-like and juvenile awl-like pointy needles. Foliage color of cultivars can vary from blue green to gray green to yellow.
var. procumbens
'Nana'
Japanese garden juniper
var. sargentii
Juniperus communis*
'Berkshire'
'Compressa'
'Gold Beach'
'Green Carpet' 'Hibernica'
'Repanda'
Common juniper2Creeping, moundedAdaptable to soil and temperatures. Commonly found on dry, sterile, calcareous, wide-ranging-pH soils under windy conditions in full sun. Not as heat tolerant as some junipers. Foliage color varies from blue green to bright green depending on cultivar.
Juniperus conferta
'Blue Lagoon'
'Blue Mist'
'Blue Pacific'
'Emerald Sea'
'Silver Mist'
Shore juniper6Creeping, moundedTolerant of poor soils. Adapted to sandy and salty soils of seashore zone. Prefers full sun. Intolerant of wet sites. Foliage varies from blue green to green based on cultivar.
Juniperus horizontalis
'Adpressa'
'Bar Harbor'
'Emerson'
'Wiltoni'
'Wisconsin'
Creeping juniper4CreepingAdaptable to soil and temperature conditions, including hot, dry and slightly alkaline sites. Tolerant of heavy clay soils. Dioecious, with inconspicuous female flowers producing blue fruit in Sept.-Nov. During summer months foliage is deep blue green or steel blue and in winter turns purple on most cultivars. Useful on slopes in full sun. Numerous cultivars ranging in height from 6 inches to 1 foot.
Juniperus sabina
'Arcadia'
'Broadmoor'
'Buffalo'
'Calgary Carpet' 'Skandia'
Savin juniper3MoundedPrefers well-drained, dry, limestone soils, full sun. Withstands urban conditions. Better in colder end of range. Mostly scale-like needles. Foliage color varies from green to blue green to gray green based on cultivars.
Juniperus scopulorumRocky Mountain juniper4MoundedTolerates drought after establishment. Intolerant of high humidity and high night temperatures. Few low-growing cultivars. 'Blue Creeper' with bright blue foliage.
Juniperus squamata
'Blue Carpet'
'Blue Star'
'Holger'
'Prostrata'
Singleseed juniper2MoundedAdaptable to conditions. Tolerates dry soils. Prefers cooler climates, low humidity, low-moisture soils. Low-growing cultivars carry bright blue to gray blue to green and vary in needle from scale to awl.
Kalmia angustifolia*Sheep laurel3Rounded/spreadingNative in rocky barrens to wet soils in semishade sites. Prefers acidic, cool, readily drained soils in full sun. Leaves are medium green to blue green above and light green below. Small cluster of purple or crimson flowers develop in mid-June or early July.
Kalmia latifolia*
'Elf'
'Emerald Sheen'
'Keepsake'
'Little Linda'
'Minuet'
'Royal Dwarf'
'Tiddlywinks'
'Tinkerbell'
'Willowood'
Mountain laurel4Rounded, openPrefers acidic, cool, moist, well-drained soil; full sun to partial shade. Flower color variable from white to pink rose to deep rose with pink to purple lines in paper campanula like petals late May-mid-June. Leaf color ranges from light yellow green to bronze early and changes to glossy green to dark green during growing season.
Ledum groenlandicum*Labrador tea3RoundedPrefers moist, sandy, peaty soils and full sun to partial shade. Dark green upper leaves and rusty below. White flowers borne in broad clusters May-June. Rare in Pennsylvania. Found mostly in the northeastern corner of the state in cooler climates.
Nandina domestica
'Atropurpurea nana'
'Compacta'
'Firepower'
'Gulf Stream'
'Harbour Dwarf'
Heavenly bamboo6Upright, spreadingPrefers moist, fertile soils and full sun to partial shade. Adaptable to soils and exposed sites. Flowers pink in bud and turns white with prominent yellow anthers borne on erect, long panicles in May-June. Appreciated for its distinctive foliage, opening copper red and turning blue green in summer and red in the fall.
Paxistima canbyiCanby paxistima4SpreadingPrefers moist, well-drained, highly organic soils; calcareous, rocky soil; and full sun. Tolerates partial shade and high-pH soils. Inconspicuous greenish flowers. Lustrous, dark green leaves turn bronze red to purple in fall. Rarely requires fertilizers or pruning.
Picea glauca
'Cecilia'
'Little Globe'
White spruce2GlobePrefers moist loam soils and full sun. Tolerates wind, heat, cold, drought, crowding, and some shade after establishment. Green to blue green and gray green needles depending on cultivar.
Picea mariana
'Nana'
'Ericoides'
Black spruce3RoundedPrefers moist, well-drained, loam soils, and cold climates. Needles are dull gray green to blue green based on cultivar.
Pinus mugo
'Gnom'
'Valley Cushion'
Mugo pine3MoundedPrefers deep, moist, and well-drained soil in either full sun or partial shade. Will do well under most growing conditions. Dark green needles are rather stiff and pointed. Overall texture is medium to coarse. If possible, select a cultivar that is known to be dwarf or compact because it will retain this size longer.
Platycladus orientalis
'Westmont'
Oriental arborvitae6GlobePrefers well-drained, moist soils, low winter humidity. Tolerant of soil pH and texture as long as it drains. Intolerant of sweeping winds. Needles are bright yellow green to grass green and turn darker green with age. Monoecious solitary flowers produce an egg-shaped, fleshy bluish cone.
Taxus baccata
'Nana'
'Pygmaea'
English yew6Rounded, spreadingPrefers moist, well-drained, sandy loam soils. Tolerates calcareous to acidic soils and shade. Intolerant of heavy, wet, clay soil. Dioecious with inconspicuous flowers. Red fruit in Sept.-Nov. Seeds are hard and toxic. Used for seasonal color and massing. Develops an informal arching habit.
Taxus cuspidata
'Monloo'
Japanese yew4Upright, spreadingPrefers moist, sandy to loam, well-drained soil and full sun to shade. Adaptable to soil pH. Wind and full sun may cause needle burn. Tolerant of urban conditions. Intolerant of wet, heavy soils. Needles have a dark lustrous green upper surface and yellowish green lower surface. Dioecious. Female flowers produce red fruit with poisonous seed.
Thuja occidentalis*
'Aurea'
'Canadian Green'
'Danica'
'Ericoides'
'Little Gem'
'Umbraculifera'
American arborvitae, eastern white cedar3Pyramidal, roundedPrefers deep, well-drained, moist soil, and humid sites in full sun. Tolerates limestone soil, heat, and drought once established. Intolerant of strong winds, heavy snow, or ice loads. Foliage color varies based on cultivar but ranges from bright to flat green to yellow and turns yellow green in winter. Monoecious flowers producing an oblong, light brown cone.
Thuja plicata
'Pumila'
'Pygamea'
Giant arborvitae5Pyramidal, roundedPrefers moist, well-drained, fertile soils; high humidity; and full sun to partial shade. pH adaptable. Blue green to dark green foliage.

* Pennsylvania native

Evergreen Shrubs (3-5 feet)

Evergreen shrubs, 3-5 feet tall
Botanical NameCommon NameZoneFormAdaptation and Remarks
Buxus microphyllaLittleleaf boxwood5-6RoundedSee earlier description for boxwood culture and attributes.
var. japonicaJapanese boxwood5-6
Buxus sinica var. insularis and hybridsKorean boxwood4-6RoundedSee earlier description for boxwood culture and attributes.
Buxus sempervirensCommon boxwood6Rounded, conicalSeveral cultivars and hybrids are usable in Pennsylvania. For details see the Penn State Extension publication Boxwoods for Pennsylvania Landscapes.
Cephalotaxus harringtonia
'Duke Gardens'
'Gnome'
'Prostrata'
Japanese plum yew6SpreadingPrefers moist, well-drained soil and shade. Tolerates drought once established and full sun. Dioecious. Not grown for flower or fruit display. Lustrous, dark growth and slow growing. Appears not to be preferred by deer.
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana
'Nidiformis'
Port Orford cedar5SpreadingPrefers moist, well-drained, neutral to acidic pH soils; full sun to partial shade; and shelter from wind. Foliage waxy whitish green to green-keeled needles. Bluish green cones turn reddish brown at maturity.
Chamaedaphne calyculata*Leatherleaf3OpenPrefers wet sites and partial shade. Flowers are a white and urn shaped on terminal racemes in April-June. Foliage is a brownish green.
Euonymus kiautschovicusSpreading euonymus6SpreadingSemi-evergreen. Will winter burn. Cultural conditions are similar to wintercreeper (E. fortunei). Glossy green foliage. Not as susceptible to scale. Available cultivars smaller than species.
Ilex crenata
'Beehive'
'Green Island'
'Green Lustre'
'Helleri'
Japanese holly6Mounded, spreadingPrefers light, moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil, full sun or light shade, and protection from winter winds. Dioecious with inconspicuous flowers. Black fruit in Sept.-Dec. Foliage lustrous, dark green to flat green with cultivars varying. Tolerates severe pruning to maintain a dense form.
Ilex glabra*
'Compacta'
'Dodd Compact'
'Chamzin'
'Shamrock'
'Tin Mine'
'Viridis'
Inkberry4Upright, moundedPrefers moist, acid soils, full sun. Tolerates wet soils and shade. Intolerant of heavy clay soils. Gray-green bark. Foliage lustrous, dark green. Dioecious, with inconspicuous flowers. Black fruit in Sept.-Feb. Often used for low hedges or in mass planting as an accent specimen because of its lighter foliage color. Leaves are light green and shiny.
Juniperus chinensis
'Blaauw'
'Blue Vase'
'Monlep'
'Old Gold'
'Pfitzeriana Compacta'
'Plumosa'
'Sea Green'
Chinese juniper5Mounded, spreadingPrefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun. Adaptable to soil pH. Tolerates calcareous and dry soils once established. Needles consist of both adult scale-like and juvenile awl-like pointy needles. Foliage color can be blue green to gray green to yellow based on cultivar choice.
Juniperus communis*
'Depressa'
'Hills Vaseyi'
'Pencil Point'
Common juniper2Vase, columnarAdaptable to soil and temperatures. Commonly found on dry, sterile, calcareous, wide-ranging-pH soils under windy conditions in full sun. Not as heat tolerant as some junipers. Foliage color varies from blue green to bright green depending on cultivar.
Juniperus sabina
'Von Ehren'
Savin juniper3VasePrefers well-drained, dry, limestone soils and full sun. Withstands urban conditions. Better in colder end of range. Mostly scale-like needles. Foliage color varies from green to blue green to gray green based on cultivar.
Juniperus scopulorumRocky Mountain juniper4MoundedTolerates drought after establishment. Intolerant of high humidity and high night temperatures. Few medium-sized cultivars. 'Lakewood Globe' with blue green foliage.
Juniperus squamata
'Blue Swede'
'Chinese Silver'
'Loderi' 'Pygmaea'
Singleseed juniper4Mounded, uprightAdaptable to conditions. Tolerates dry soils. Prefers cooler climates, low humidity, and low-moisture soils.
Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana*
'Blue Cloud'
'Silver Spreader'
'Triparita'
Eastern red cedar4Mounded, pyramidalPrefers full sun, open locations in deep, moist, well-drained loam soils. Tolerant of adverse conditions, poor gravel soils, acid, and high-pH soils. Foliage medium green to sage green and blue during the season to bronze and yellow brown during winter. Dioecious, with female flowers producing blue, waxy cones.
Kalmia latifolia*Mountain laurel4Rounded, openSee earlier description for cultural conditions and flower and foliage characteristics.
Leucothoe fontanesianaDrooping leucothoe5SpreadingTransplant in the spring. Prefers acid, moist, well-drained, organic soils, and partial to full shade. Tolerates full sun with adequate moisture. Intolerant of drought and windy conditions. White, fragrant, urn-shaped flowers on axillary racemes in April-June. Green to bronze to purple early leaf color changes to lustrous green and variagated depending on cultivar. Foliage turns purple in fall.
Mahonia aquifoliumOregon hollygrape5Upright, roundedPrefers moist, well-drained, acidic soils, shade, and protection from wind. Bright yellow flowers in early May. Blue fruit in July-Aug. Foliage turns red to purple in fall.
Picea abies
'Nidiformis' 'Procumbens'
'Pumila'
Norway spruce
Bird's nest spruce
4Conical, roundedPrefers moderate moisture, sandy, acid, well-drained soils; cold climate; and full sun. Needles bright green to purplish when young turn lustrous, dark green during growing season.
Picea glauca
'Ed Hirle'
White spruce2ConicalPrefers moist loam soils and full sun. Tolerates wind, heat, cold, drought, crowding, and some shade. Green to blue green and gray green needles depending on cultivar. 'Ed Hirle' is a narrow, slow-growing form of dwarf Alberta spruce 'Conica'.
Picea omorika
'Expansa'
Serbian spruce4Rounded, spreadingPrefers deep, rich, limestone to acidic, moist, well-drained soils; winter protection; low humidity; and semishade. Tends to be adaptable to full sun and city conditions. Needles have glossy, dark green upper side with two prominent, white, stomal lines on the lower side.
Picea orientalis
'Nana'
Oriental spruce4RoundedTolerates poor, gravel soils. Protect from excess cold, dry conditions, and harsh winter winds. Needles lustrous, dark green with an overall graceful plant form.
Picea pungens
'Glauca Globosa'
'Montgomery'
'Thume'
Colorado spruce3Rounded, conicalPrefers rich, moist, well-drained soils in full sun. More drought tolerant than other spruce. Foliage of the low-growing cultivars range from blue to silver blue.
Pieris floribundaMountain pieris5RoundedPrefers slightly acidic, moist, well-drained soils, and partial shade. Intolerant of drought, sweeping winds, and full winter sun. Fragrant white, urn-shaped flowers in upright cluster on terminal racemes, late April. Leaves are a dull, dark green.
Pinus mugo
'Aurea'
'Slavinii'
Mugo pine3MoundedSee earlier cultural condition description.
Platycladus orientalis
'Bonita'
'Juniperoides'
'Minima'
Oriental arborvitae6Pyramidal, roundedSee earlier description of cultural conditions.
Prunus laurocerasus
'Mischeana'
'Mt. Vernon'
'Nana'
'Otto Luyken'
'Schipkaensis'
'Zabeliana'
Common cherry laurel6RoundedPrefers moist, well-drained, highly organic soil and partial to heavy shade. Tolerant of salt spray. Intolerant of excessive fertilization. Fragrant, white flowers on wide axillary racemes in April-May. Purple to black conical drupes form in summer. Lustrous dark green leaves.
Pyracantha coccinea
'Apache'
'Lowboy'
'Rutgers'
Scarlet firethorn6OpenPrefers well-drained, acid to neutral pH soil, dry summer, and full sun. Tolerates partial shade. Thorny stems. Malodorous cream white flowers in mid-June. Orange-red fruit. Leaves may drop in late winter. Fireblight can be a serious problem; look for resistant cultivars.
Rhododendron carolinianumCarolina rhododendron5Rounded, openPrefers partial shade, acidic, moist, well-drained soil. Intolerant of wet, high-pH soils, salinity, winter wind, and winter sun. Large, umbel-like flowers range from white to pale rose to rosy purple in mid-May. Large leaves are dark green during the summer and turn green to purple green in the winter. Two varieties: 'Album' (white flowers) and 'Luteum' (yellow flowers). Will survive zone 5 with winter protection.
Rhododendron x obtusum var.Hiryu/kurume hybrid azalea7SpreadingPrefers acid soils. Tolerates shade. Glossy, green foliage turns red to purple in fall. White to pink to crimson flowers in mid-May.
Rhododendron x 'PJM hybrids'PJM hybrid rhododendrons4RoundedPrefers conditions similar to Carolina rhododendron. Produces similar and varied foliage colors and characteristics and a broad array of flower colors due to extensive breeding.
Sarcococca hookerianaSweetbox6MoundedPrefers loose, acid, high-organic, moist, well-drained soils in partial shade to shade. Tolerates neutral soils, pollution, and drought once established. Fragrant, off-white, inconspicuous flowers. Lustrous, dark green to light green leaves.
Taxus baccata
'Repandens'
Spreading English yew6Rounded, spreadingPrefers moist, well-drained, sandy loam soils. Tolerates calcareous to acidic soils and shade. Intolerant of heavy, wet, clay soil. Dioecious with inconspicuous flowers produce red fruit in Sept.-Nov. Seeds are hard and toxic. Used for seasonal color and massing. Develops an informal arching habit over time.
Taxus canadensis*Canadian yew2PyramidalPrefers moist, sandy loam soil and winter shade. Intolerant of heat and drought. Not as desirable as other yews. Monoecious flowers. Self-fertile, producing a wide, red fruit. Stiffly upright, straggling in form.
Taxus x media
'Andersonii'
'Angelica'
'Chadwickii'
'Deniformis'
'Tauton'
Anglo-Japanese yew4Pyramidal, spreadingPrefers well-drained, moist, acidic to neutral sandy to loam soil in sun or shade. Dark green, lustrous needles. Dioecious, with female flowers producing red, fleshy fruit with poisonous seed.
Taxus cuspidata
'Cross Spreading'
'Dark Green Spreader'
'Densa'
Japanese yew4Upright, spreadingPrefers moist, sandy to loam, well-drained soil and full sun to shade. Adaptable to soil pH. Wind and full sun may cause needle burn. Tolerant of urban conditions. Intolerant of wet, heavy soils. Needles have a dark, lustrous green upper surface and yellowish green lower surface. Dioecious, with female flowers producing red, fleshy fruit and poisonous seed.
Thuja occidentalis*
'Bonita'
'Juniperoides'
'Minima'
Americian arborvitae, eastern white cedar3Pyramidal, roundedPrefers deep, well-drained, moist soil, and humid sites in full sun. Tolerates limestone soil, heat, and drought once established. Intolerant of strong winds, heavy snow, or ice loads. Foliage color varies based on cultivar but ranges from yellow green to blue gray and dark green and turns brownish to plum red. Monoecious flowers produce an oblong, light brown cone.
Thuja plicata
'Cuprea'
'Rodgersii'
Giant Arborvitae5Pyramidal, roundedPrefers moist, well-drained, fertile soils; high humidity; and full sun to partial shade. pH adaptable. Copper bronze to yellow foliage turning green to bronze green later in year.

* Pennsylvania native

Evergreen Shrubs (5-15 feet)

Evergreen shrubs, 5-15 feet tall
Botanical NameCommon NameZoneFormAdaptation and Remarks
Berberis julianaeWintergreen barberry6UprightPrefers a moist, well-drained site. Tolerates shade and wide range of soils. Intolerant of winter winds, which desiccates leaves and cause bronzing to leaf drop in severe years. Yellow flowers in mid-May. Dark green, leathery leaves turn yellow/orange/red in late fall. A good spiny barrier shrub.
Buxus microphyllaLittleleaf boxwood5-6RoundedSee earlier description of cultural conditions.
var. japonicaJapanese boxwood5-6
Buxus sempervirensCommon boxwood6Several cultivars and hybrids are usable in Pennsylvania. For details see Penn State Extension publication Boxwoods for Pennsylvania Landscapes.
Chamaecyparis pisifera
'Boulevard'
'Filifera'
Japanese falsecypress4PyramidalPrefers moist, loamy, well-drained soils, humid climate, full sun, open sites, and neutral to slight acid pH. Dark green to silver blue green foliage with pendulous habit.
Chamaecyparis thyoides
'Andelyensis'
'Aurea'
'Raraflora'
'Variegata'
Atlantic whitecedar4ConicalPrefers moist, sandy soil, and full sun. Foliage varies from bright blue green to yellow based on cultivar.
Ilex cornutaChinese holly7RoundedVery adaptable to drought once established as well as pH and extreme heat. Very susceptible to wind damage. May be injured during cold weather. Very dense plant. Foliage green with rounded to spiny points on leaf margins. Numerous cultivars, with 'Burfordii' being very common. Heavily used in the southern U.S. but only hardy to southeastern corner of Pennsylvania.
Ilex crenata
'Convexa'
'Glory'
'Highlander'
'Sentinel'
'Sky Pencil'
Japanese holly6ColumnarSee earlier description of cultural conditions.
Ilex glabra*
'Cape Cod'
'Densa'
Inkberry4Upright, roundedSee earlier description of cultural conditions.
Ilex x meserveaeMeserve hybrid hollies5Rounded, openPrefers moist, well-drained, acidic soils, and winter sun and wind protection. Winter desiccation will affect these plants. Lustrous, green to blue green foliage. Dioecious, requiring male and female for fruit set. Bright red fruit. Commonly available cultivars and registered names include 'Blue Boy', 'Blue Girl', 'Blue Maid', 'Blue Prince', 'China Boy', and 'China Girl'.
Juniperus chinensis
'Ames'
'Blue Point'
'Globosa'
'Hetzii'
'Hooks'
'Maney'
'Pfitzeriana'
Chinese juniper5Mounded, uprightSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Juniperus communis*
'Sentinel'
Common juniper2ColumnarSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Juniperus scopulorum
'Gray Gleam'
'Monwade'
'Medora'
'Skyrocket'
'Witchita Blue'
Rocky Mountain juniper4Pyramidal, columnarSimilar in preferred conditions to other junipers. Tolerates drought after establishment. Intolerant of high humidity and high night temperatures. Foliage color varies from brilliant blue to silvery gray green.
Juniperus squamata
'Meyeri'
Singleseed juniper4MoundedSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana*
'Emerald Sentinel'
'Globosa'
'Hillii'
'Idyllwild'
'Manhattan Blue'
'Nova'
Eastern redcedar4Pyramidal, columnarSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Kalmia latifolia*Mountain laurel4Rounded, openSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Mahonia bealeiLeatherleaf mahonia6Upright, openCultural requirements, flower characteristics, and fruit display are very similar to Oregon hollygrape except the flower cluster is larger. Coarse-textured plant that will have limited use in the average home landscape. Leaves are semi-evergreen with a spiny edge.
Picea omorika
'Nana'
Serbian spruce4Rounded, spreadingSee earlier description for cultural conditons.
Picea orientalis
'Gowdy'
'Gracilis'
Oriental spruce4RoundedSee earlier description for cultural conditons.
Picea pungens
'Bakeri'
'Blue Kiss'
'Fat Albert'
'Iseli Foxtail'
Colorado spruce3Rounded, conicalSee earlier description for cultural conditons.
Pieris japonicaJapanese pieris5UprightPrefers moist, well-drained, organic, acidic soils; partial shade to full sun; and some wind protection. Flowers start red to white in bud opening in ranges of cream white to pink in pendulous clusters in mid-April. Foliage is oblong and glossy. New foliage is a rich bronze and turns dark green as the leaves mature. The foliage remains green or takes on a slightly purple tint in the fall.
Pinus mugo
'Gnome'
'Mops'
Mugo pine3MoundedSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Platycladus orientalis
'Baker'
Oriental arborvitae6Pyramidal, roundedSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Pyracantha coccinea
'Bakers Red'
'Chadwickii'
'Mohave'
'Navaho'
Scarlet firethorn6OpenSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Rhododendron catawbienseCatawba rhododendron5Rounded, spreadingSimilar conditions as Carolina rhododendron. Flowers are clustered and colors range from lilac to crimson to purple in early June. Leaves are broad and elliptic, coarse, and leathery with dark green upper surface and lighter lower surface.
Rhododendron maximum*Rosebay rhododendron3OpenPrefers moist, well-drained, acid soil; shade protection; and cool sites. Flowers are rose, purplish pink, to white in June. Streamside native.
Taxus cuspidata
'Capitata'
'Expansa'
'Nana'
'Thayerae'
Japanese yew4Upright, spreadingSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Taxus x media
'Berryhillii'
'Brownii'
'Flemer'
'Hicksii'
'Sebian'
'Woodwardii'
Anglo-Japanese yew4Pyramidal, spreadingSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Thuja occidentalis*
'Elegantissima'
'Ellwangeriana'
'Emerald'
'Techny'
'Woodwardii'
American arborvitae, eastern white cedar3Pyramidal, roundedSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Thuja plicata
'Green Giant'
'Hillier'
Giant arborvitae5Pyramidal, roundedSee earlier description for cultural conditions.
Viburnun x pragensePrague viburnum5Upright, roundedPrefers moist, well-drained, fertile soil; partial shade; and winter protection. Lustrous, dark green leaves. Pink flower buds open slightly fragrant and white on terminal cymes.
Viburnum rhytidophyllumLeatherleaf viburnum6Upright, spreadingSimilar cultural conditions to Prague viburnum but not as hardy; requires more winter protection and tolerates up to ¾ shade. Upper leaf surface is deep to dull green with wrinkled appearance. Lower leaf surface is covered with yellow pubescence, creating a two-toned effect as leaves move. Flowers are yellow white clusters in mid-May. Fruit ripen in late summer and change from red to black before dropping.

* Pennsylvania native

Glossary

Cyme
a more or less flat-topped determinate inflorescence in which the outer flowers open last (e.g., elderberry)
Determinate
the main axis of the plant terminates with a flower, which prevents further growth during the present season
Dioecious
a species with unisexual flowers where each sex is confined to a separate plant (e.g., hollies)
Indeterminate
the main axis of the plant continues to grow and where flowers arise from the axillary buds rather than terminal buds
Inflorescence
refers to a flower cluster that can be further described by the type of form of the cluster such as spike, cyme, panicle, and raceme
Monoecious
a species with unisexual flowers where both sexes are found on the same plant (e.g., arborvitae)
Panicle: an indeterminate inflorescence in which the primary axis bears branches of pedicels leading to flowers (e.g., a branching raceme)
Pedicel
the stalk of a flower or fruit
Raceme
a simple indeterminate inflorescence in which the primary axis consists of single pedicels, each with a flower
Spike
an unbranched, elongate, simple, indeterminate inflorescence with flowers attached directly to the primary axis without a pedicel

References

Conklin, J. R., and J. C. Sellmer. "Flowering, fecundity, seed germination, and seed viability of Viburnum opulus L. cultivars. J. Environmental Hort. 27, no. 1 (2009): 31-36.

Dirr, M. A. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation, and Uses. 5th ed. Champaign, Ill.: Stipes Publishing, 1998.

Flint, H. L. Landscape Plants for Eastern North America. 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997.

Lehrer, J. M., M. H. Brand, and J. D. Lubell. Four cutlivars of japanese barberry demonstrated differential reproductive potential under landscape conditions. HortScience 41, no. 3 (2006): 762-67.

Rhoads, A. F., and T. A. Block. The Plants of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

USDA-ARS. Germplasm Resources Information Network. Beltsville, Md.: National Plant Germplasm System, 2009.

USDA-NRCS. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, La.: National Plant Data Center, 2009.

Suggested Plant Selection Resources

Appleton, B. A., and L. T. Chaplin. The New York/Mid-Atlantic Gardener's Book of Lists. Dallas: Taylor Publishing, 2001.

Brickell, C., and J. D. Zuk, eds. A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. New York: DK Publishing, 1996.

Dirr, M. A. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs. Portland: Timber Press, 1997.

Poor, J. M., and N. P. Brewster. The Garden Clubs of America: Plants that Merit Attention. Vol. 2: Shrubs. Portland: Timber Press, 1996.

Taylor, N., and G. P. DeWolf Jr. Taylor's Guide to Shrubs. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

Wyman, D. Shrubs and Vines for American Gardens. 2nd ed. New York: Macmillan, 1969.

Prepared by Jim Sellmer, Rick Bates, and David Sanford, associate professors of ornamental horticulture, and J. Robert Nuss, professor emeritus of ornamental horticulture.

Authors

J. Robert Nuss