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Which Shrub Should I Plant?

Find the best shrubs for your climate with this guide to heirloom varieties for every growing zone. By Lee Reich

    An informal hedge of forsythia makes a cheerful statement. (Photo: Lee Reich)

    An informal hedge of forsythia makes a cheerful statement. (Photo: Lee Reich)

    Shrubs are a natural fit for most old houses, but not every shrub will work in every climate. The charts below offer shrub suggestions based on their USDA Hardiness Zone, determined by a location’s average winter temperatures. (If you don’t already know which Hardiness Zone you live in, consult the map below.) This sampling of heirloom shrubs, all of which were introduced to the U.S. in the 19th century or earlier, offers everything from free-form florals to stately evergreens.

    USDA Hardiness zone map courtesy of The National Arbor Day Foundation

    USDA Hardiness zone map courtesy of The National Arbor Day Foundation

    Informal Deciduous

    ZoneShrub NameBotanical NameDate Introduced
    Zone 3
    Zones 3-9
    Zone 4
    Zone 4
    Zone 4
    Zone 4
    Zones 4-8
    Zones 4-8
    Zones 5-9
    Zone 6
    Red osier dogwood
    Summersweet
    Allegheny serviceberry
    Forsythia
    Pegee hydrangea
    Witch hazel
    Red buckeye
    Flowering quince
    Quince
    Bigleaf hydrangea
    Cornus sericea
    Clethra alnifolia
    Amelanchier laevis
    Forsythia
    Hydrangea paniculata
    Hamamelis spp.
    Aesculus pavia
    Chaenomeles speciosa
    Cydonia obonga
    Hydrangea macrophylla
    1656
    1731
    1870
    19th century
    1861
    19th century
    1711
    1800
    18th century
    1790

    Informal Evergreen

    ZoneShrub NameBotanical NameDate Introduced
    Zone 3
    Zone 4
    Zone 4
    Zone 4
    Zones 4-5
    Zone 6
    Juniper
    Arborvitae
    Drooping leucothoe
    Rose daphne
    Rhododendrons & azaleas
    Oregon grape holly
    Juniperus spp.
    Thuja spp.
    Leucothoe fontanesiana
    Daphne cneorum
    Rhododendron spp.
    Mahonia aquifolium
    19th century
    19th century
    1793
    1753
    19th century
    1823

    Formal Deciduous

    ZoneShrub NameBotanical NameDate Introduced
    Zones 2-7
    Zones 4-7
    Zones 4-8
    Alpine currant
    Common privet
    Japanese green barberry
    Ribes alpinum
    Ligustrum vulgare
    Berberis thunbergii
    1700
    1750
    1656

    Formal Evergreen

    ZoneShrub NameBotanical NameDate Introduced
    Zone 4
    Zone 5
    Zone 6
    Zone 7
    Zone 7
    Zones 8-9
    Yew
    Common boxwood
    Japanese holly
    Boxleaf hebe
    Japanese privet
    Myrtle
    Taxus spp.
    Buxus serpervirens
    Ilex crenata
    Hebe buxifolia
    Ligustrum japonicum
    Myrtus communis
    19th century
    1750
    1864
    1885
    1845
    1800

    Looking for more inspiration? Find the best hydrangeas for your historic garden.

    Published in: Old-House Journal August/September 2010

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