How to identify flowering bushes

Written by april fidler
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How to identify flowering bushes
Hibiscus syriacus or Rose of Sharon (hibiscus image by photlook from

In order to identify flowering bushes and shrubs, it's important to understand the differences in the various shrub families. Once you have a basic understanding of the types of flowering shrubs that exist, you will be able to tell if that white bush on the side of your house is a viburnum, mock orange or hydrangea. Learn a few methods to narrow down the shrub species and determine what type of flowering bushes you have in your yard.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tree and shrub pocket guide
  • Camera
  • Hardiness zone map

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  1. 1

    Examine the structure and colour of the flowers on the bush. If the flowers are red, the bush might be a weigela, Hibiscus syriacus or rhododendron. If the flowers are red and funnel-shaped, narrow it down to a weigela. If the red flowers form single stars, it may be a Hibiscus syriacus. If the red flowers are in star-shaped clusters on top of one another, it is likely a rhododendron.

  2. 2

    Examine the leaves for colour and structure. If your flowering shrub has red leaves, it might be a barberry or a purple sand cherry. If the leaves are blue, chances are it is Caryopteris or Juniperus squamata. If the leaves are green, determine whether they sprout from the bud one at a time or in bunches. Some roses have multiple leaves from one leaf bud, while some honeysuckles have a simple leaf structure. Examine the leaves for overall shape. If the leaves are oval, it may be a shrub variety of dogwood or witch hazel. If the leaves are arrow shaped, it might be a Variegata.

  3. 3

    Examine your bush throughout the growing season to determine if it produces fruit. If it does, narrow it down to fruit-producing varieties, such as barberry, chokeberry, honeysuckle and flowering currants.

  4. 4

    Check the leaves on your shrub when autumn arrives to see if the leaves stay green or change colour and fall. This will help you determine whether you have a deciduous shrub like a rhododendron, which boasts star-shaped flowers but loses its leaves in winter, or an evergreen like a mountain laurel, which has similarly-shaped flowers but remains green in the winter.

  5. 5

    Check a map to determine the hardiness zone for your area. If you believe a cactus is growing in your backyard but you live in the Midwest, you either have the cold-tolerating Opuntia or Echinocereus cactus in your yard--or no cactus at all. Knowing the hardiness zone for your area will help you determine what kind of flowering shrubs can grow in your area.

  6. 6

    Take a picture of your flowering bush to help you identify it in a plant identification guidebook or on plant identification websites.

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