The first brilliant blooms of spring can be a sight for sore eyes after a glacial winter. But some of the season's most stunning flowers are also the most grueling to grow. Here are six low-maintenance flowering shrubs that offer visual allure without any of the arduous labor.
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Senior garden editor Todd Carr favors forsythia for its resplendent beauty and ease of care. "Forsythia is one of the easiest shrubs to grow and force indoors in the late winter," says Carr.
Use the shrub to form neat hedgerows or to form a perimeter in the back of the garden. Forsythia burgeons in vibrant yellow blooms during the spring, lending richness to the garden before falling dormant.
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Much like forsythia, quince branches can be forced for a brilliant indoor display. In order to promote indoor growth, quince branches must be clipped on a diagonal and provided with both consistent hydration and balmy temperatures. Carr encourages gardeners to mind the large spines along the plant's stems when tending to quince.
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A prolific plant prone to great growth, rhododendrons can increase in height to 10 feet or more over time. Rhododendrons are evergreen spring flowering shrubs that prefer gardens in the shade, and the genus makes a particularly shrewd choice for screening due to its impressive vertical measurement.
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There are many different viburnum varieties, each offering sweet-smelling flowers and vividly colored that yield fruit for summer and lush flowers. Bodnant viburnum in particular is renowned for its blush-hued, winter-blossoming flowers that lend life to an otherwise spare, dormant landscape.
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Beloved by gardeners for their profusion of pink and crimson blooms during the warm spring and summer months, azaleas can be grown in both deciduous and evergreen forms. The shrub prefers shady garden plots and acidic soil, Carr says.
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Lilacs are an extensive group of scented treelike shrubs. The flowering species is available in seemingly endless tones of blue, pink, and white; each variation of which requires little care to produce beautiful blooms.
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The camellia is a Southern flowering evergreen shrub known for its fragrant aroma and delicate array of aesthetically pleasing hues, which range from cream to fuchsia. However, Carr advises checking the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map before purchasing the plant, as camellias are not hardy in northern climates.
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"Spirea makes a great foundation shrub that can be easily pruned and hedged after flowering," Carr states. Spirea also happens to be a deer-resistant species, making the species an excellent choice for gardens that attract grazing animals.