General gardening topics

Top 10 low maintenance shrubs that require minimal care

Last updated on June 8th, 2022

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If you are a gardener looking for shrubs that require minimal care, you are not alone. Whether you have health issues, limited time, or just don’t want to be outside tending to your garden as a regular job, there are low-maintenance shrubs that can cope with limited attention and are generally maintenance-free, aside from perhaps a trim every year.

Evergreen Shrubs

If you are looking for an evergreen shrub, something that gives you a wonderful appearance throughout the year, there are some delightfully low-maintenance options out there.

1. Sarcococca confusa – Sweet Box

1. Sarcococca confusa (Sweet Box)

The Sweet Box is a Chinese evergreen shrub that is compact in size and produces creamy white flowers that are heavily scented. It is so scented that you will smell it throughout your garden.

In addition to these flowers, you can enjoy the glossy green foliage and subsequently the black berries that will bring plenty of flying friends to your garden.

You can see some of our favourite plants for bees in this guide here

2. Aucuba japonica – Spotted Laurel

Aucuba japonica Crotonifolia is stunning evergreen shrub offers a litany of colours. First and foremost the leaves take on the shading of a canvas splattered with paint. The leathery leaves bring yellow and green speckled shading all year round from spring through winter. These leaves are offset by the small purple flowers that appear come springtime. If you have a female plant those flowers will produce large red fruit in Summer and Autumn.

The Japanese laurel is very easy to grow and it establishes itself quite quickly, even if you have planted it in a shaded area in your garden. They produce large fruits that are perfect for inviting birds to your garden. Aucubas don’t get too big, usually up to approximately one metre in size. They are also great for creating screening.

Winter and Spring Flowering shrubs to add a splash of colour

What if you want flowers at a specific time, perhaps at the very beginning of winter or spring? If that’s the case, consider these spring-flowering shrubs that burst into colour when not much else is flowering.

3. Viburnum x bodnanatense ‘Dawn’

It produces pink and white flowers in late autumn/spring that emerge from red buds. At 2.5 meters tall once established its a fairly large shrub so allow plenty of room but it can be pruned to keep it within a certain size. Great for sheltered and exposed areas but prefers full sun or partial shade.

As a larger, upright shrub, this is something that you can place along the back of your garden bed to add the highest vertical appeal. It will start to flower on its stems in November and these flowers produce a rich scent.

Thankfully these flowers continue throughout the rest of the season, as long as the weather is warm enough, which means you will have flowers on and off for most of the winter and all the way through until March. This variety is known for having slightly pinker coloured flowers.

4. Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ – Honeysuckle

 Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’

The Lonicera ‘Winter Beauty’ gets its name because it can flower as early as December, producing cream and white coloured flowers. With a rich fragrance, this variety looks like an untidy bush for most of the winter, but as soon as those flowers show up you won’t be sorry you planted it.

Learn more about growing Honeysuckle in this grower’s guide

5. Viburnum x burkwoodii

Viburnum x burkwoodii

A much easier plant in terms of upkeep, this one is known for having shiny green foliage with white flowers. The domes of flowers give off a fragrance, similar to that of Lillies and they usually splayed downwards. You get flowers in April with a plant that grows up to 3 metres, making it a great choice for filling in large spaces.

Summer Flowering shrubs to add a splash of colour

Perhaps you are looking for flowers that fill your garden with summertime blooms, something that provides stunning flowers long after spring has turned to summer and the weather is warmer. If so, there are ample varieties out there and below are 3 of our favourites.

6. Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ – Mock Orange

Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ (Mock Orange)

The ‘Mock Orange’ is a citrus-scented plant that produces white flowers that earn its name. Each of the flowers is smudged in a sort of light pink so they look beautifully coloured.

Unlike more vigorous varieties of this particular plant, the flowers on this aren’t so prolific that they end up falling downwards, instead, they stand upright and look you right in the face. The Philadelphus has an eventual growing height of 1.2 metres.

7. Weigela ‘Bristol Ruby’

Weigela ‘Bristol Ruby’

Reaching up to 1.5 metres (5ft) when grown in the right conditions, this particular shrub is known for its nearly black buds and the clusters of rich red trumpet shaped flowers it produces. But the flowers aren’t the only thing that are intriguing. It has dark coloured foliage as well, making it a very unique and otherwise darkly coloured addition to your garden.

8. Ceanothus ‘Puget Blue’ – Californian Lilac

The California lilac is an award-winning evergreen shrub that is known for producing an abundance of luminous, lavender coloured flowers by the end of spring and throughout the beginning of Summer.

The Californian Lilac does better in sunny gardens only. It’s a wonderful plant to grow if you have a sheltered wall because it thrives best when placed along sheltered walls giving it protection against wind.

This plant produces small, dark green leaves that have a crinkled appearance on top of which you will find thick clusters of blue flowers. The cold winter can diminish the overall success of the plant and harsh winds will scorch the foliage, which is why having it against the wall is so important. It can reach up to 3 metres once fully established if it is planted in its ideal conditions.

2 of our favourites for Shaded Areas:

Not all of us are lucky enough to have a garden with ample sunlight and perfect level ground in which case we need plants that fit shaded areas. If you are one of those people with one part of your garden that is more neglected than others, or perhaps you have one section of the garden that simply doesn’t get direct sunlight, rest assured there are still shrubs that you can plant.

9. Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

This variety of Hydrangea is quite popular, and will be happy planted in shaded areas of your garden. It is known for producing creamy-white conical heads that fade from summer to autumn, producing lime green flowers. These flowers are so stunning that you can cut them and dry them, displaying them in your home.

This particular variety of Hydrangea is well proportioned and can grow up to 1.5 metre in height, depending on the conditions of your soil.

Learn more about other Hydrangeas that grow well in shade in our guide here

10. Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’

This is a smaller shrub perfect for a shaded area in your garden. It produces three-lobed leaves with smaller flowers that are creamy with a pink tint and produce equally small, red berries. Even though it does have flowers and subsequently berries it is grown primarily for its stunning foliage and does well in semi-shaded locations. Once fully established it will reach 1.5 metres (5ft) in height.

So, no matter which of these you choose, rest assured that they are equally easy to grow and require very little of you as the gardener, so you can have stunning shrubs that produce bursts of seasonal colour and flowers with very little maintenance. Consider pruning them once or maybe twice a year if you want to keep them to a particular size, shape, or structure.

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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