When to Plant Shrubs – Planting Guide 2024

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Shrubs are an excellent way to add year-long greenery to your garden, add depth among flowers, and create borders between sidewalks and neighbors. There are many types of shrubs, and the first step is learning when to plant them for optimal growth.

When to Plant Shrubs? While there are many varieties of shrubs, most should be planted in the spring. This will allow them to establish themselves, especially if you live in an area with a very cold winter. Fall planting is also suitable for shrubs if you live in a more temperate climate. Always water thoroughly after planting your new shrubs.

Planting Shrubs in Different Climates

Tropical Climate

While we don’t often think about shrubs in a tropical climate, there are many that thrive. Azaleas and rhododendrons are two great options.

Dry Climate

For planting shrubs in a dry climate, look for drought-tolerant varieties. Russian sage and bayberry will do well, and you can also try butterfly bushes.

Temperate Climate

There is no shortage of shrubs that will thrive in a temperate climate. Any sort of evergreen shrub will be happy with the mild summers and winters.

Continental Climate

With a continental climate, you want shrubs that will survive very cold winters and very hot summers, which can be a lot to expect. Lilac shrubs are perfect for this climate.

Polar Climate

While it can be harder to find shrubs that will survive a polar climate, there are still some good options. Camelias might be ok, as long as they have shelter, and any evergreen shrubs should be hardy enough.

Choosing Shrubs

Shrubs are an excellent addition to most yards but in addition to knowing what varieties you want to plant, you should also keep in mind what kind of budget you are working with.

Shrubs start out as small plants but if you don’t want to wait for them to grow larger, you can buy more mature plants. The rule, however, is that the larger the plant, the more expensive it will be.

Furthermore, while there are always a wide variety of common shrubs, such as boxwoods and cedars, more exotic ones may need to be specially ordered or purchased online. As you can imagine, these will cost more.

The problem with shrubs is that if you want to create a border or hedge, you will need quite a few plants and this can add up. The one good thing to remember, however, is that if you care properly for your shrubs, they will last for many years and thus should only be a one-time investment.

Here are some examples of popular shrubs.


Extremely versatile, you can find small or tall varieties of boxwood. You can easily shape these shrubs and they grow thickly so they make for an excellent hedge or privacy screening.


An evergreen shrub is a great variety as it will provide green growth throughout the entire year. They don’t require much trimming and are great for privacy.


While most people tend to overlook azaleas as a shrub, as their flowers are so powerful, this is a good option if you only want one or two shrubs as an accent in your garden. These shrubs can grow to be quite large, so be sure to give them enough space to spread out.

How to Plant Shrubs


There are two main times you want to plant shrubs, and these are the spring and the fall. When you choose to plant your new shrubs will be contingent on a lot of factors.

If you live in an area where the winters are very cold, spring is a better time as it will allow the shrub to acclimatize and the harsh winter won’t be as much of a shock.

However, deciduous tree shrubs do a bit better in the fall. These are shrubs that lose their foliage and thus will already be in a dormant stage when you plant them in the fall.

Those that rely on what their local gardening center has in stock may have to base their planting time around what is available. If you aren’t tied to the type of shrubs you want, then you can simply select what is on offer and plant when needed.

The biggest takeaway with timing is that summer and winter are definitely not good times to plant shrubs. Summers, no matter how temperate your climate, is still too hot and your shrub probably won’t adapt easily.

As for winter, the ground is frozen and the delicate roots of a transplanted shrub won’t be able to find their way into the soil.


Each type of shrub is different, so you will need to check individual preferences for location. While some shrubs prefer full sun, many are happy in partial shade.

It’s important not to just plant your shrub where you want it to go, as this could greatly affect the odds of it surviving.

One other aspect of location is determining how large your shrub will grow, both in terms of width and height. While you might have a few years of spareness between your shrubs, when they become mature, they will grow better.


To give your shrub the best chance at successfully growing, adequately prepare the soil before you plant. This should include mixing in organic matter such as compost.

Dig up the area and ensure the soil can drain well. The goal is to not need to water your shrubs too often and if the soil is the right mixture, you can make this a reality.

Furthermore, the soil should be able to drain well so that water doesn’t pool. Shrubs don’t often like their roots to be in the water the whole time as this can cause rot to settle in.


Shrubs can have fairly large root balls so you will need a decent shovel to dig the hole. Dig it twice the size of your root ball for easier planting.

After planting, fill the soil back in and gently tamp it down to secure the roots. If the soil settles further after watering, you can add more soil so that it fills in the hole.

How to Water Shrubs

Watering is crucial for newly planted shrubs. You want to water regularly to help the shrub establish its roots and be strong enough for the upcoming seasons.

The one benefit of planting in either spring or fall is that there should be sufficient precipitation for your plant. However, pay close attention to the weather and if there is no rain in the forecast, you will have to water more.

It’s best to water for long periods of time and then wait a few days before watering again. This will force the shrub’s roots deeper into the soil and make the whole plant stronger.

Watering once summer hits is also important in the first year of planting. Hot summer weather can shock a new shrub so water more often as the mercury rises.

Once established, different shrubs will have different water needs. Check to see if you have a drought-resistant shrub that can go longer periods without watering or more delicate shrubs that need constant watering, no matter their age.

How to Grow Shrubs


The nice thing about shrubs is you will be able to see where you plant them and how large they are right away. Then, you don’t have to wait and can instead add a layer of mulch around your new plant.

The bark mulch will help retain water, which will keep the soil moist. It will also prevent weeds from taking over.

Place a thick layer of mulch over the area where the roots are underground.


Generally, shrubs only need to be fertilized once a year. Spring is a good time to do this.

If you have compost, you can gently dig around the shrub and add some to the soil. Just be careful not to disrupt the roots.

An alternative is to use a liquid fertilizer. One that is slightly higher in nitrogen will encourage healthier foliage.


Shrubs can be cut back to encourage new growth and to keep their intended shape. Fall is a good time to prune as any flowers will have died back and you won’t impede new growth.

How long do shrubs take to grow?

When you purchase shrubs, you can always ask how old they are. With popular varieties, you may have a choice of their age, although this usually translates to a higher price with older plants.

Shrubs can take anywhere from three to eight years to reach their full height, with some taking even longer. Knowing this timeframe according to each variety will help you plan for the future so that you don’t overcrowd your shrubs.


Whether you want a way to hide an old fence, a clear border along your driveway, or an accent in your garden, shrubs are incredibly useful plants. Planting shrubs in the spring is the best time but some hardier varieties will do fine in the fall.

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