How to identify shrubs and bushes

Written by elizabeth punke
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How to identify shrubs and bushes
Blossoms from the hydrangea bush. (Hydrangea Flowers image by Shannon Workman from

Shrubs offer our gardens the bulk and stability many landscapes desperately desire. There are small shrubs, medium sized ones and large bushes that give off wonderful scented flowers and beloved colours. Identifying your shrubs is important to know what soil they prefer, what fertiliser they need and how much sun and water will help them prosper.

Things you need

  • Camera
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Tape measure

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  1. 1

    Identify the shape of the leaves on the bush or shrub. The rose bush has a teardrop shaped leaf with serrated edges, which come to sharp point. The azalea bush has long, slender leaves that appear like an elongated diamond with points at both ends.

  2. 2

    Feel the leaf for distinctive properties. The hydrangea leaf could be mistaken for a rose leaf due to similarities, however the hydrangea leaf has coarse hairs that make the texture of the leaf rough. The holly bush (Perfect plant perfect place, R. Lancaster pg. 204.) has a leaf that is glossy and thick, somewhat resembling smooth rubber.

  3. 3

    Check the colour and shape of the blooms on the shrub. The azalea blossom consists of five to eight petals in bright hues of pink and yellow. The hydrangea bush carries blooms in clusters, with each individual flower holding four petals. Hydrangea is found in lavender, pink, blue and white, and each cluster consists of more than 100 individual flowers.

  4. 4

    Measure the height and width of the bush in question. The cotoneaster bush grows to a mature height and width of 360 by 300 cm (12 by 10 feet). In contrast, the hebe shrub only reaches a height of 600 mm (24 inches). The hebe does spread though, reaching widths of up to 120 cm (4 feet).

  5. 5

    Note your findings in detail for later use in identifying your bush. Taking a picture will also help you correctly find the name of the shrub you are identifying.

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