Ali Lawrence has been gardening since she was five. She was born and raised in Alaska but now resides in Pennsylvania where her family grows a large garden every year. Her passions include writing haikus and finding new ways to use her essential oils! Read more articles from Ali at and connect with her on Pinterest.


4 Shrubs to Plant in Your Pennsylvania Garden
by Ali Lawrence - posted 07/17/17

The rule most gardeners follow is to plant in spring and fall, and while this may be true for the most part, you can plant in summer. Just be careful what you plant.

You don’t want to divide established plants in summer, wait until the cooler months. However, it’s perfectly okay to plant shrubs but not move them.

Summer planting is frowned upon because it’s hot and dry, so most gardeners avoid planting because it’s difficult for plants to establish a good root system in their new home without moist soil. The plant may go into shock and die.

Transferring shrubs from a container to the ground is fine since the root system can easily be moved without damage. However, don’t transfer a shrub in summer if it’s already in the ground since it’s likely the roots will be torn up during the transfer and the heat makes it difficult for the plant to regain it’s strength.

So, the question becomes what shrubs are best to plant if you want to green your landscape during the summer?

Pennsylvania’s plant hardiness zone is 5a -7b, so you'll want to choose shrubs that grow well in that particular zone. There are many you can choose from, including deciduous and evergreen of various sizes.

oakleaf hydrangea best shrub for Pennsylvania gardeners

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea aka Hydrangea quercifolia is a broad, rounded shrub that can reach up to 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Leaves are large and deeply lobed with a similar appearance to oak leaves. 

You’ll see plenty of color from this shrub. Flowers turn from clusters of white to a pinkish or purple shade in late spring to early summer, and leaves turn from green to a bronze or crimson in fall. Hydrangea is easy to care for, too! And, if you read my garden trends this year you would see this plant was also the #1 recommended plant for PA gardeners.

Swamp Azalea

Swamp Azalea aka Rhododendron viscosum, is a fragrant shrub with alternative leaves. Its lovely, 5-parted tubular blooms can vary in color from white to deep pink to yellow. Swamp azalea blooms in early summer.

Leaves are dark green but turn colorful in fall, ranging in color from yellow, orange and purple. A good shrub to plant near a patio or porch so you can enjoy its fragrance and beauty while relaxing outdoors.

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush aka Buddleia davidii, is a fast-growing shrub that produces masses of spiked blooms from summer through fall. The flower colors can vary, but most often you'll find shades of lavender, white or dark purple. You can also buy hybrids with orange or gold colored blooms.

Butterfly bushes require little care. You’ll need to remove spent flowers during the growing season to encourage new blooms and do some annual pruning in fall. Pruning helps the bush keeps a compact shape and encourages new blooms the next growing season.

Chinese Holly

Chinese Holly, Ilex cornuta, is a slow-growing evergreen shrub with unusually-shaped rectangular leaves. Creamy white fragrant flowers appear in spring and large red berries later in the year.

Chinese holly has several uses in the landscape. It makes a good specimen plant, hedges, and for beds and borders. It requires little care. Just place the bush in a full-sun to part shade where it'll grow in moist well-drained soil, and it'll thrive.

These shrubs are some of the many you can plant in Pennsylvania. You can choose from a long list of deciduous and evergreen shrubs in various sizes for your landscape. If planting in summer, just remember to buy container plants so that you can successfully grow these and other shrubs, even if planted during the dog days of summer. 



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