Shrubs are the backbone of any garden, offering long-term structure and beauty across the seasons. There’s a shrub to suit every situation and style, whether you want year-round interest or a big seasonal splash, a tall, dense screen or low ground cover. As well as flowers, many shrubs offer attractive foliage, colourful stems and vibrant fruits. They’re a wildlife magnet too, providing shelter and food for a range of creatures.


Shrubs have a permanent structure of woody stems. They come in all shapes and sizes, some holding onto their leaves all year, others losing them in autumn. As well as flowers in every possible hue, many shrubs have attractive foliage, fruits and bark.


Choose a suitable shrub for your conditions if you want it to live a long and happy life. Annual pruning keeps shrubs healthy and vigorous.


Some shrubs need very specific conditions, so won’t thrive if planted in the wrong location. Flowering and overall appearance can deteriorate if a shrub is left to get overgrown or congested.

Did you know?

It can sometimes be hard to distinguish between a large shrub and a small tree – but in general shrubs tend to produce multiple woody stems that sprout from low down, while trees usually have one tall main trunk.

Growing guide

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.