10 Low-Maintenance Shrubs You Shouldn’t Prune - Backyard Boss
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10 Low-Maintenance Shrubs You Shouldn’t Prune

Low-maintenance shrubs are easy to care for, making them a perfect addition to your garden. These hardy plants don’t spread aggressively and don’t require frequent or complicated pruning or deadheading. With long blooming periods and natural resistance to pests and diseases, low-maintenance shrubs can tolerate summers and winters without requiring you to provide extra protection.

You shouldn’t plant and forget low-maintenance flowers and shrubs because, in the end, they’re still plants! Low maintenance means once the plant has established itself in your garden, you only need to provide minimal maintenance to keep the plant healthy for many years to come. 

If you’re looking to add some beautiful but easy to care for shrubs in your garden, here are some you can check out.

10 Low-Maintenance Shrubs You Shouldn’t Prune

1. Bluebeard

bluebeard flowers
Image credits: Emily Simpson via Unsplash

This compact shrub distinguishes itself with small, blue flowers, glossy grey foliage, and a rounded growth habit. With the mystique of a willow tree, Bluebeard shrubs grow as annuals or woody perennials that die each winter depending on the climate. Many like Bluebeards for the balloon shape they grow into, which gives them an ornamental appeal — all without lifting a pair of garden shears!

Do note that their leaves take time to sprout, which makes it look like a cage of bare twigs. But hang in there; as long as your climate isn’t too cold and you plant it in full sun, the shrub will bear its unmistakable foliage.

2. Bobo Panicle Hydrangea 

Image credits: <a href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/hydrangea-paniculata-vanille-fraise-on-stem-2138476459" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener">S.O.E via Shutterstock</a>
Image credits: S.O.E via Shutterstock

Bobo Hydrangea is a plant variety of panicle hydrangea known for its snow-white flower clusters. This flowering shrub originates in east Asia and parts of Russia and Belgium.

Blooming from early to late summer, Bobo doesn’t require pruning as it maintains its dense and compact form throughout its growing and dormant seasons. You can use this shrub for topiary if desired or stick to its simple maintenance requirements, which include an inch of water per week and fertile soil.

3. Weigela

full-blown Korean weigela flowers(Weigela subsessilis (Nakai) L.H.Bailey)
Image credits: ToriNim via Shutterstock

Weigela Florida is native to East Asia but was brought to the west by Christian Weigel, a German scientist. Its label ‘Florida’ means beautiful and is a tribute to its stunning rosy-colored flora, with a citrusy fragrance. By these attributes, it’s no surprise that hummingbirds and other pollinators love this shrub. 

With its dense and rounded growing habit, you can grow this plant along borders where you can admire its leaves as they show off shades of green and soft pink all year round, without handling a shear.

4. Potentilla

Potentilla fruticosa Goldstar Shrubby Cinquefoil in England
Image credits: SpotLuda via Shutterstock

Native to the United States and the Canadian plains, this hardy shrub can withstand temperatures as low as −40 °F. It is usually planted to substitute evergreen shrubs such as boxwood due to its mounding habit, making it perfect for shaping. Along with its utility in the topiary, potentilla keeps the deer away and attracts pollinators

To make the most of this hedging plant, you can plant it along borders or in containers where its double flowers can greet you in all their yellow splendor.

5. Ninebark

Blossoming purple leaved Physocarpus opulifolius in May
Image credits: APugach via Shutterstock

Ninebark is native to the Americas and parts of East Asia. This shrub allegedly has nine layers of bark, which is a testament to the fact that there is more than what meets the eye with this shrub. A lover of the full sun and moist, well-drained soil, ninebark shrubs can grow out of their comfort zone in rockier and clay soils. After reaching maturity, it is drought tolerant and needs little maintenance, aside from applying a slow-release fertilizer in the spring and mulch.

Regarding its layers, the bark on the shrub sheds as it reaches maturity, which stands out, especially in the winter when its dark purple leaves and white flowers are shed. This is one of the native alternatives to an invasive plant called Common Buckthorn.

6. Summersweet

flowers of coastal sweetpepperbush, clethra alnifolia,
Image credits: Przemyslaw Muszynski via Shutterstock

The oh-so-fragrant Summersweet is a species of Clethra characterized by slow-spreading and densely branched annual shrubs. This shrub thrives in the most challenging soils, ranging from indelible clay soils to apathetic sandy soils.

Given that it is a hardy plant, Summersweet is a low-maintenance shrub that keeps to its dense shape all year long, needing no pruning. Pollinators such as swallowtail butterflies and bees all delight in its sweet scents in the summer.

7. Forsythia

blossoming forsythia in the garden in the spring
Image credits: Martina Unbehauen via Shutterstock

Forsythia is a flowering shrub native to East Asia, but a Scottish gardener named William Forsyth brought it to the west in the 18th century. Yes, you guessed it – They named the plant after him. From early spring, the plant undergoes a transformation that ends with yellow bell-shaped flowers abundantly budding on its branches. Following the beaming blossoms are vibrant leaves, both of which smell slightly of almonds.

Interestingly, the plant is a member of the Oleaceae family and is related to the olive tree. In maturity, the forsythia grows to a height of eight to 10 feet with a width of 10 to 12 feet. This shrub can fight soil erosion and flourish in poor soil or conditions prone to drought. Ideally, grow forsythia in soil mixed with a fertilizer rich in phosphorus and enjoy its curved branches as they fill and shed flowers.

8. Spirea

Spiraea japonica (Japanese spirea) or Japanese meadowsweet. Little Princess blooming in the summer.
Image credits: Stefan_Sutka via Shutterstock

Blooming pink and white flowers from late spring to late summer, spirea is a small shrub but can enliven a garden all year long. This compact shrub grows two to three feet high and one to four feet wide in maturity with upright foliage that can make a statement in your garden.

A spirea shrub begins the spring as a plant with deep green leaves, and by mid-summer, its fragrant flowers are in full bloom bearing reddish, pink, and white tones. In the winter, its dark green leaves turn a brilliant gold-bronze color, all the while remaining low-maintenance with little upkeep. If needed, you can deadhead spent flowers to encourage more flowers.

9. Witch Hazel

Hamamelis virginiana
Image credits: LianeM via Shutterstock

Native to the eastern woodlands of the Appalachian Mountains, witch hazel is a sizable shrub with peculiar flowers that bloom in the winter. Derived from the old English word “wiche” which means pliable or bendable, it perfectly describes the branches and features of the shrub. Emitting floral and herbal notes, this annual shrub is essentially maintenance-free, only requiring occasional watering, and resistant to most diseases and pests.

Ideally, you can grow witch hazel in full sun and in a place where people can admire its unique flora, like outside a sun-facing window. Most varieties of this shrub can grow as high as 10 to 20 feet at maturity, but you can make them smaller with pruning if need be. Otherwise, you can let a witch hazel plant grow without a worry and even reap the cosmetic and medicinal benefits from its flowers.

10. Deutzia 

Deutzia gracilis romantic bright white flowering plant, bunch of amazing and beautiful slender flowers on shrub branches, green leaves
Image credits: Iva Vagnerova via Shutterstock

Deutzia bears endearing pink flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds and deter wildlife such as deer. It thrives in small spaces and can serve as an ornamental plant in your garden. You can plant deutzia in hanging baskets, on slopes, or in containers to take advantage of its curved and flower-filled branches.

These low-maintenance shrubs require little pruning. However, you can deadhead faded flowers in their blooming season to enjoy the second show of their creamy pink blooms.

Stop! Don’t Prune!

Maintaining a garden is a tremendous responsibility since there’s always something to keep you busy. Watering, transplanting, propagating, weeding, and fertilizing are some of our regular duties that are unavoidable. But pruning gives you the wiggle room you require, depending on the plants you have growing in your backyard.

Just pick the right shrub and plant it in the right place to see it transform your outdoor areas!