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You’ve caught the gardening bug, planted tons of gorgeous flowers and started your first vegetable garden. But if you haven’t added flowering shrubs to your space, you’re missing out. Shrubs are elemental in any garden. They provide privacy and screening, serve as a backdrop for perennials in mixed borders and planting beds, and offer shelter for wildlife and pollinators. And just about the time when you’ve had enough of winter’s dark days, spring-flowering shrubs burst into bloom to add color and joy to the landscape. Many shrubs also are available in more compact sizes for small yards and gardens and even in containers on a balcony.

But before we get to our picks, two quick notes:

Which Shrubs Should You Buy?

Before you buy, read the label or plant description to make sure a shrub will survive winters in your USDA Hardiness zone (find yours here). You also need to plant it where it receives the kind of light it likes: Full sun is 6 or more hours of direct sunlight, while part sun is about half that.

When Should I Plant These Shrubs So They Flower in the Spring?

While you can plant shrubs any time during the growing season, the absolute best time to plant is fall, when temperatures have moderated and rainfall (generally) is more plentiful. Dig a hole about two to three times the width of the hole, but only as deep as the container. Set your shrub in the hole and add back the soil, patting down firmly. Water well, and make sure to give your new shrub a drink if you don’t get any rain for a few days. It’s also a good idea to add mulch around the base (though not touching the stems, which invites disease and pests) to keep down weeds and conserve moisture.

Related: How to Grow Roses (Even if You Can’t Keep a Succulent Alive)

Our Favorite Flowering Shrubs:

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1. Forsythia

This pretty shrub is one of the first to bloom in spring. Its canary yellow blooms appear long before the foliage. New varieties stay more compact and neater for smaller gardens.

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2. Lilac

This old-fashioned shrub can live for decades, and its lovely spikes of purple, pink or white flowers have the sweetest, most romantic scent. Look for reblooming dwarf types, which only top out at 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, if you’re short on space.

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3. Weigela

This lovely shrub blooms funnel-shaped flowers in late spring. Butterflies and hummingbirds love it! Many new varieties stay compact or have eye-catching variegated foliage, and some types also rebloom in mid-summer.

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4. Daphne

Daphne shrubs have a sweet, fruity fragrance and delicate white, pink or lavender blooms in late winter or early spring. They’re not very cold hardy, but they are a lovely addition to the garden in warm climates. Many species are evergreen.

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5. Lily of the Valley Shrub

This pretty shrub has the most darling little bell-shaped flower clusters that appear in late winter to early spring. It’s one of few shrubs that tolerates mostly shade.

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6. Flowering Quince

Showy flowers appear in lovely shades of red, salmon and pink on this old-fashioned favorite. Older types have thorns and fruit, but new varieties are thornless and do not fruit. They bloom in early to mid-spring, and the branches make pretty cut flowers, too.

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7. Deutzia

This lesser-known shrub deserves a place in your garden for its profusion of elegant pink or white bell-shaped flowers that cover this shrub in late spring. Dwarf types make an excellent groundcover, too.

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8. Lorapetalum

This Southern darling has deep burgundy, green, or variegated foliage and fun, little fringe-y flowers in spring. Place it up close by a patio or at the front of borders along walkways so you can enjoy the quirky blooms.

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9. Korean Spice Viburnum

This shrub makes a great privacy hedge, and the spicy-sweet scent of the flowers in mid-spring are delicious. Dwarf types offer the same lovely scent but in a smaller profile that tops out around 5 feet tall and wide.

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10. Camellia

These evergreen shrubs have eye-catching red, white, or pink blooms that resemble peonies or roses. Their sweet fragrance is intoxicating. Varieties may bloom from late winter, spring or fall, so read the tag to be sure about what type you’re buying.

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11. Ninebark

This native shrub has clusters of pink or white fragrant flowers in mid to late spring. The foliage may be wine-colored, deep green, or orange. It’s also available in dwarf form, but no matter what size you plant, give this shrub plenty of space to show off its graceful arching habit.

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12. Azalea

Covered in pink, white, red, lavender or peach blooms, azaleas are one of the most beloved shrubs of spring. New varieties keep blooming from spring to fall so you’ll enjoy their flowers for months.

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Related: How to Keep Plants Warm Long after Summer Ends

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