My 5 Favorite Shrubs For Late Summer Color


Here we are in mid to late August. Sure, we have summer-blooming annuals like Petunias, Vinca, Lantana, etc., giving us color this time of year. We have many beautiful late summer hardy perennials in color. But what about shrubs? What shrubs can I plant in my landscape for color in August?

Before I give you my list of five favorite shrubs, there are some landscape principles that I want to stress to you in making your plant selections. The most successful landscape starts with a well-defined plan. Another significant point to stress is doing your homework on learning about the plant—especially with sunlight requirements and the growing dimensions. For you to love these plants as much as I do, you want to be sure that you have THE RIGHT PLANT IN THE RIGHT LOCATION. I want you to love your plants. I want you to give your plants proper spacing to grow naturally to show their natural beauty. By doing so, then you are developing a low-maintenance landscape. Lastly, when planting, be sure to enrich the soil using compost and organic matter. By doing so, the plant will be happy and thrive, which is what you want to happen in your landscape. Now, down to business!

Here are my five favorite shrubs for late summer color ( in no particular order ):


What an excellent shrub. It has small pink flowers in the late spring all along the long arching branches. The flowers then form small clusters of berries. Right now, here in August, the berries are green. But soon, they will be changing to purple. The flowers attract both bees and butterflies. The purple berries will support our birds later this fall and winter.


These summer-blooming hydrangeas are in full bloom with large white flowers. Some people may refer to these hydrangeas as peegee hydrangeas. The more popular varieties of summer-blooming hydrangeas are the ‘Lime Light,’ the ‘Little Lime,’ the ‘Annabelle,’ and the ‘Tardiva.’ These hydrangeas are putting on quite a colorful display with their large white flowers, which provide a feast for bees and butterflies.


Kaleidoscope is an evergreen shrub with multi-colored leaves and tiny white flowers at this time of year. It will grow to be 3’ x 3’ mounding. Abelia is a sun lover. As we cool down later this fall, the color of the leaves becomes more vibrant red.


Clethra is in full bloom now with a sweet fragrance. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Clethra is considered a low-maintenance plant and needs to be planted in full sun to partial shade.


Encore azaleas are in bloom now and will continue to be in bloom into the fall. There are many different varieties of Encore azaleas in all the traditional azalea colors—white, pink, red, orange, and lavender. The Encore azalea was first developed in the 1980s by a guy in Louisiana. When they first became available on the market, I was the shrub buyer for the Great Big Greenhouse. At first, I was a little leery about how well they would do in Central Virginia—but time proved me wrong. Encore azaleas grow great for us. To share a couple of points of information about Encore azaleas—they are more tolerant of sun and require very little pruning. If you decide to prune, it is recommended to do so in spring after it has finished blooming.

So, there you have it—my favorite top five shrubs for late summer color. Come in to see us. The fall planting season is almost upon us.


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