Shrubs are a great way to anchor your landscaping with plants that take up space in a more-permanent way, but are not are not as much of a commitment as a tree. Some people refer to shrubs as bushes, and mostly they are the same, but in some regions people make the distinction that bushes are wild and shrubs are not. 

In Indiana, we have a lot of great possibilities when considering what shrubs to buy for your property. Let’s talk a bit about what shrubs are popular in our area, how to pick a particular plant while shopping and how to plant them once you’ve brought one home.

Popular shrubs in the Bloomington, Indiana, area

A major factor on why certain shrubs are popular in one area over another is the USDA “hardiness zone” — ours here is 6, or more specifically, 6A. This simply refers to what kind of temperatures the plants can endure and survive in. A plant that thrives in Texas won’t necessarily make it here. Below are popular shrubs that are rated for at least a 6A hardiness. 

  • Hydrangeas (multiple varieties grow in Zone 6)
  • Rhododendron
  • Arborvitae
  • Weigela
  • Forsythia
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Holly
  • Japanese Dogwood

How to pick a shrub

You may have a particular shrub in mind, after looking through pictures of some of the above, but before choosing a variety, make sure they are also suited to the place you want to plant them. They may require shade versus sun, moist ground versus dry ground, or have other needs. You should also take into account how much space the shrub will need once it’s fully grown. It may “fit” now, but what about in a couple years?

When you have the right plant in mind, though, and you’re at the store, here are some tips on how to pick a healthy plant that will have the best chance of successfully transferring to your property. 

  1. Symmetry: a plant that has equal growth on all sides is healthier
  2. Branches: a plant that has more branches growing per foot of growth is stronger
  3. Green leaves: if the plant is supposed to have green leaves, make sure it does, not brown, dry or shriveling leaves
  4. Roots: make sure the roots are extending down and gripping the soil and are white or yellow

How to plant a shrub

Of course, there are differences depending on what shrub is being planted, but there are also some best practices. 

  1. Prepare the soil: This process needs an entire article just for itself. But it involves testing the pH levels of the soil and making “soil amendments” to adjust for pH and nutrient needs of the specific plant. It’s wise to research your specific shrub to see what kind of preparation the soil might require. 
  2. Dig a space for the shrub: The root ball of the shrub needs a hole that is about as deep as it is but with at least twice the space around it. 
  3. Plant the shrub into the space: After you place the shrub into the space, unpack the root ball gently. Don’t tear the roots from your plant, but allow them to branch out into the larger space. 
  4. Add more soil: At this point, you should backfill the native soil to fill in around the roots. Do not pack it too tightly or else the roots will not be able to spread out into their new space. 
  5. Water and mulch: After the shrub is planted, put some mulch over the soil and give the area a good watering. 

That’s it! Enjoy your shrubs, and if you have any questions, concerns or need help with planting or maintenance, call Anthony’s at (812) 345-5694.