Flowering Shrubs for Containers

Updated February 21, 2017

Container gardening offers the home gardener many benefits. Containers are portable, which means they can be placed in the type of light the plant needs and even brought indoors if the plant is not frost-hardy. Many home gardeners plant annuals or bulb plants in containers, but containers also work well for larger, showier plants such as flowering shrubs. Those that grow slowly or are dwarf cultivars work best, according to Ohio State University.

Star Magnolia

The star magnolia (Magnolia kobus var. stellata) is a good choice for container planting, according to the University of Florida. This multi-stemmed, rounded shrub is very hardy and grows well in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5a through 8b. In the spring, the plant blooms with a profusion of creamy white flowers, which appear before the leaves start to uncurl. The star magnolia grows slowly and prefers full sunlight, although it can grow in partial shade. Some cultivars have pale pink flowers.


Hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.) grow well in containers and are often sold potted as gift plants. These attractive, flowering shrubs feature huge clusters of flowers (some are round and some are panicles) that come in shades of creamy white, pink and blue. The flowers bloom all summer long, making these shrubs a popular choice for home gardeners who want a showy ornamental. The wide range of species and cultivars means there is a hydrangea for any climate -- even areas with long, cold winters, according to Bella Online. Hydrangeas grow best in cool, moist soil with some afternoon shade to protect them from the hot sun, which can scorch the leaves. Because they are fast growing, they need regular pruning to keep them the right size for a container. Luckily, they tolerate even severe pruning very well.


Camellias (Camellia spp.) thrive as container plants, according to BBC Gardening. These warm-climate shrubs have attractive broad, glossy green leaves but are most desirable for their stunning, fragrant flowers, which bloom from late fall through early spring. Camellias have a very slow growth rate, and even mature camellias that are grown in containers will only reach a maximum height of about 10 feet. These flowering shrubs thrive in moist, rich soil and will benefit from mulch. They also need full sun in order to bloom well.


Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.) grow best in acidic soil, so many home gardeners prefer to grow them in pots using an acidic compost (BBC Gardening recommends an ericaceous compost). These evergreen shrubs are desirable for their ability to withstand cold temperatures, their evergreen leaves and the huge clusters of flowers, which come in almost every shade save blue. Many are bi-coloured. Some species do best in partial shade, while others can tolerate full sun.

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