While evergreens provide us with greenery year-round, deciduous plants and shrubs captivate us with the cycles they go through. From the forming of new buds in spring to high bloom and the shedding of their leaves in fall, deciduous shrubs can add an ever-changing element of beauty to any landscape.
When it comes to choosing deciduous shrubs, you will want to take into account the same factors you would in choosing any other softscaping (living, growing) element.
These include knowing your space, knowing your environment, and knowing your plants. For areas like southeastern Pennsylvania where the changing seasons can take us through a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions, this also means knowing what plants are hardy enough to thrive in your location.
We discussed Hardiness Zones in our last article in more detail, but here’s a quick recap:
In southeastern Pennsylvania, there are two main zones. Bucks, Northampton, Lehigh, Berks (except the southeast tip), and the eastern edge of Montgomery Counties are part of Zone 6, where the coldest temperatures range from -10 to 0 degrees.
The remaining areas of Berks and Montgomery, plus most of Lancaster County fall into Zone 7, where the coldest temperatures range from 0 to 10 degrees.
The lower the number, the colder the zone. Generally speaking, plants that can flourish in colder zones can flourish in warmer ones, so if you live in Zone 7, a plant that flourishes in Zone 6 should still work for you.
Dwarf Cranberry Bush: This deciduous bush is globe-shaped, and is generally under three feet in height fully grown. It is very hardy, and can thrive in both zones of southeastern Pennsylvania. The Dwarf Cranberry Bush likes a lot of sun, has glossy green leaves, and red berries in autumn.
Weeping Forsythia: This deciduous bush is mound-shaped, and is generally between three and five feet in height fully grown. It thrives in hardiness Zone 5, so it is adaptable to Zones 6 and 7, as well as to a range of soil types. Weeping Forsythia has dark green leaves, and in spring it blooms with yellow flowers.
Chinese Redbud: This deciduous bush is vase-shaped, and is generally between five and nine feet in height fully grown. It thrives in hardiness Zone 6, so it is adaptable to Zone 7. It likes deep, acidic soil and light shade. Chinese Redbud has thick, dark green leaves, and in spring it blooms with white or purple flowers.
Not sure what type of deciduous shrub will work best for you? Talk to a landscaping professional to plan your perfect softscaping design!