How To Grow Shrubs

Friday, 15 July, 2022

Shrubs form the backbone of every garden. Providing a pop of colour, a burst of greenery, and having the added benefit of being easy to maintain, adding shrubs to your garden is a no-brainer.

Available in a variety of colours, shapes, and sizes, there is a shrub for every job. They are able to flourish in even the most adverse conditions and they are great for improving natural wildlife.

Before You Start

What is a shrub? Shrubs are more commonly called bushes. Sometimes, due to their size, large shrubs can be mixed up with trees, however shrubs have a woody structure with several low-lying stems rather than a single trunk like a tree.


Step One: Choosing your shrub

These plants can come in all sizes and can have a variety of purposes, hedges, focal points, backdrops and more. Planning the type of plants and where they will go in your garden is a key first step.


  • Size. Shrubs range from ground cover (30cm) to substantial plants that can eventually grow to taller than 4m.
  • Colour. Shrubs provide a burst of colour. Evergreen varieties will keep their green leaves all year round, whilst others provide flowers in any shade. Leaves can also be variegated- edged with yellow, silver, or white.
  • Season. Some shrubs will only flower at certain times of the year. Consider how this may affect the appearance of your garden.
  • Wildlife. Nectar-rich flower flowers, fruits, berries, and scented shrubs will attract and encourage the natural wildlife in your garden.


Some examples of common garden shrubs:

  • Azalea
  • Forsythia
  • Holly
  • Hibiscus
  • Lavender 
  • Lilacs
  • Rhododendron
  • Rose


Learn more about particular types of garden shrubs and borders on the RHS website.


Step Two: Choosing your location

Do a thorough examination of the outside of your home and around your garden to find the space best suited for shrub growth. Lots of sun and rain are required to ensure your shrubs flourish. Also consider the purpose of your shrub, are they replacing fencing or simply decorative?

Shrubs that come from warmer climates will struggle more during the winter months. The shelter offered by a wall or greenhouse may be necessary for the plant to survive.


Step Three: Planting your shrubs

Once you have selected and purchased your shrub, you will need to plant it. The best time of year to plant is between September and March. Prep your soil with enriched compost, to provide all the nutrients necessary for optimum shrub growth.


  1. Dig a hole big enough to fit the root ball but also to be surrounded by nutrient rich compost.
  2. Place the shrub in the hole so that part of the root ball sits above the surface. Leave the covering on until the shrub is placed in the soil the way that you want it before removing.
  3. Add RocketGro’s New Peat-Free Tree & Shrub Compost for the extra boost of nutrients. 

RocketGro’s New Peat-Free Tree & Shrub Compost is a brand new product launched at Glee in June 2022. Glee is the biggest gardening industry trade show in the UK and offers brands the opportunity to connect with buyers across garden retail.  


Step Four: Maintaining your shrub

Now the shrub is in the ground. Routine maintenance is key to ensure your plant stays healthy for years to come. Each shrub has a different level of care but the majority is as follows:


  • After planting, thoroughly water the plant to reduce the risk of transplant shock, a common side effect of moving a plant to a new location.
  • Water regularly in the first year, if the location doesn’t get much rain, then you will need to increase watering accordingly
  • Shrubs growing against a wall will need more watering as the wall will protect from rainfall, reducing the amount of water that reaches the roots. RocketGro’s Magic Mulch can be added to the base of the shrub to improve water retention. Just make sure the mulch doesn’t touch the stems at the base of the plant as this can cause the plant to rot


  • Remove dead flowers to encourage more flower growth and to ensure that the rest of the plant is able to access as much sunlight as possible.
  • Flowering shrubs should be trimmed during the offseason whilst non-flowering shrubs can be trimmed anytime except during autumn. This means the plant doesn’t go dormant before new growth.
  • Start at the bottom of the shrub and work upward and inward at a slight angle. This prevents the plant from becoming top heavy. Never trim more than 1/3 of the shrub on a single occasion to avoid weakening the plant.
  • Do not deadhead shrubs that produce fruits or berries as they are a source of food for wildlife.


Happy growing, 

Take a look at the rest of RocketGro’s organic, peat-free gardening products here.


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