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Blooming shrubs offer outdoor temptations

This has been a long spring. But many of us are used to this kind of weather here in northeast Ohio. So the earlier the blooms, the better I feel and the more I want to go outside for my health and for the great enjoyment of gardening.

Here are some great shrubs for you to consider adding to the landscape this year so that next spring is as bright and beautiful as possible.

1. Witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) — This is a flowering shrub that when it blooms, signals that our long winter is coming to an end.

Its yellow flowers have a warm spicy fragrance, and its crinkled petals resemble spiders. When the weather gets too cold, the petals will roll up protecting the flowers extending the bloom season. Witch hazel branches have been used as divining rods to find water and gold.

Its height is 6 to 20 feet with a spread of 6 to 20 feet. It grows in full sun and or light shade.

2. Forsythia (Forsythia intermedia) — This flowering shrub is known for its long arched branches that are covered end to end in bright yellow blooms.

It is best grown in full sun but will tolerate some shade. Proper pruning is essential to keep this shrub attractive. Prune after flowering has finished. One third of the oldest growth can be cut right back to the ground each year. The branches make a nice tabletop addition when placed into a vase to force flowering.

Its height is 2 to 10 feet with a spread of 3 to 15 feet.

3. Japanese Rose (Kerria japonica) — It’s not a rose in the traditional sense, as it does not belong to the genus rosa, but is included in the very large rose family.

It prefers light shade and needs pruned after flowering is complete. The entire shrub can be cut back to the ground if it becomes overgrown.

Its height is 3 to 10 feet with a spread of 3 to 10 feet, and it grows best in light shade.

4. Fothergilla (F. gardenia) — This shrub does double duty with its flowers, fragrance and fall color. The bottlebrush-shaped flowers have a delicate honey scent, and the fall foliage progresses from a light yellow to a flaming orange-red color.

It grows best in full sun with little pruning to remove dead branches. Its height is 2 to 10 feet with a spread of 2 to 10 feet.

5. Weigela (W.florida) — I have a variegated cultivar that is beautiful every year. Its arching branches are full of trumpet-shaped clusters of flowers that attract hummingbirds.

They prefer full sun and are one of the longest-blooming shrubs, lasting up to six weeks. Its height is 1 to 9 feet with a spread of 1 to 12 feet.

6. Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) — Everyone needs a big bouquet of lilacs to bring back memories of picking them for our grandmothers and mothers every spring. Today, there are many varieties of lilacs to choose from, from old-fashioned to dwarf types.

They are best grown in full sun and should be pruned after flowering is finished to prevent them from becoming leggy and avoid cutting off next year’s flowers.

Its height ranges from 3 to 30 feet, with a spread of 3 to 25 feet.

Baytos is an Ohio State University Mahoning County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.

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