Short to Medium Shrubs for St. Louis
by Ronda Anson

Following is a wide selection of short to medium-sized shrubs recommended for the St. Louis area. Some are nativars (cultivars of Missouri native shrubs). Others are excellent, non-invasive exotics. All should perform well in St. Louis if planted in a suitable location.

These shrubs should mature at roughly 3 to 6 feet. The width varies; some are much wider than they are tall. Expected size is listed with each shrub.

To learn what conditions each shrub requires, click on the Latin name of the plant (orange text) for more information. Many of these shrubs were voted "Tried and Trouble-free" by five or more area professionals and should be easy to find at local nurseries. Although others may be harder to find, they are worth the search. Several are "Plants of Merit." Most have or are currently performing well at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Come and take a look at them.
Aronia melanocarpa 'Autumn Magic'
Black chokeberry
Nativar

Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 2 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-6' tall, 4-7' wide
Flowers: Clusters of showy white flowers in May
Fruit: Black autumn berries
Fall color: Purple-red
Other notable characteristics: Attracts birds

Buddleja davidii 'Nanho Blue'
Butterfly bush

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 3-5' tall, 3-5' wide
Flowers: Fragrant, mauve blue, June to September
Foliage:  Gray-green
Other notable characteristics: Attracts butterflies
Buddleja davidii 'Nanho Purple'
Butterfly bush

Tried & Trouble-free:
Recommended by 7 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 3-5' tall, 3-5' wide
Flowers: Fragrant, lavender-purple, June to September
Foliage:  Gray-green
Other notable characteristics: Attracts butterflies
Buxus 'Green Velvet'
Boxwood

Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 10 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 2-4' tall, 2-4' wide
Foliage:  Evergreen
Buxus sinica var. insularis 'Wintergreen'
Boxwood

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 7 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 2-4' tall, 3-5' wide
Flowers: Insignificant but very fragrant
Foliage:  Evergreen
Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst'
Beautyberry

Plant of Merit

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 3 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-4' tall, 4-5' wide
Fruit: Glossy, amethyst-purple fruits in late summer, early fall
Caryopteris × clandonensis 'Longwood Blue'
Bluebeard

Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 4 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 2-4' tall, 2-4' wide
Flowers: Fragrant, violet-blue flowers from late summer into fall
Foliage:  Aromatic silvery-gray leaves
Other notable characteristics: Attracts bees and butterflies
Chaenomeles × superba 'Texas Scarlet'
Flowering quince

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-4' tall, 4-5' wide
Flowers: Watermelon red
Fruit: Showy, edible
Foliage:  Glossy dark green leaves
Clethra alnifolia 'Hummingbird'
Sweet pepperbush or summersweet

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 2-4' tall, 3-5' wide
Flowers: Sweetly fragrant white flowers July - August
Fall color: Attractive shades of yellow to golden brown
Other notable characteristics: Attracts butterflies and bees
Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice'
Sweet pepperbush or summersweet

Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 4-6' tall, 3-5' wide
Flowers: Sweetly fragrant rose pink flowers July - August
Fall color: Attractive shades of yellow to golden brown
Other notable characteristics: Attracts butterflies and bees
Clethra alnifolia 'Sixteen Candles'
Sweet pepperbush or summersweet

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 4-5' tall, 2-3' wide
Flowers: Sweetly fragrant creamy white flowers July-August
Fall color: Attractive shades of yellow to golden brown
Other notable characteristics: Attracts butterflies and bees
Cornus alba 'Bailhalo' IVORY HALO
Tatarian dogwood

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 4 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 4-6' tall, 4-6' wide
Fruit: Showy blue-white fruit in summer attracts birds
Foliage:  White edged leaves
Fall color: Purple-red
Other notable characteristics: Bright red winter stems
Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'
Bloodtwig dogwood

Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free
: Recommended by 1 professional
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 5-6' tall, 5-6' wide
Fruit: Attracts birds
Fall color: Golden yellow
Other notable characteristics: Yellow winter stems tipped with red
Cornus sericea 'Farrow' ARCTIC FIRE
Red twig dogwood

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 4 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-4' tall, 3-4' wide
Fruit: Blue-white fruit in summer attracts birds
Fall color: red to orange eventually fading to purple
Other notable characteristics: Bright red winter stems
Cornus sericea 'Isanti'
Red twig dogwood

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 4 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 4-5' tall, 4-7' wide
Fruit: Blue-white fruit in summer attracts birds
Fall color: Red to orange eventually fading to purple
Other notable characteristics: Bright red winter stems
Deutzia gracilis
Slender deutzia

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 2-5' tall, 2-5' wide
Flowers: Fragrant, white
Fothergilla 'Mount Airy'
Dwarf fothergilla

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 8 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-5' tall, 3-5' wide
Flowers: Profuse honey-scented white flowers April-May
Fall color: Yellow, orange and red-purple
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
Smooth hydrangea
Nativar

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 11 professionals
Sun: Part shade
Average size: 3-5' tall, 4-6' wide
Flowers: Huge pure white heads for up to 2 months
Foliage: Dark green
Hydrangea quercifolia 'Flemygea' SNOW QUEEN
Oakleaf hydrangea

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 8 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 4-6' tall, 6-8' wide
Flowers: White changing to pink
Foliage:  Oak-like, deep green leaves
Fall color: Bronze, maroon or purple
Other notable characteristics: Mature stems exfoliate to reveal a rich brown inner bark which is attractive in winter.
Hydrangea quercifolia 'Pee Wee'
Oakleaf hydrangea

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-4' tall, 2.5-3' wide
Flowers: White changing to pink
Foliage:  Oak-like, dark green leaves
Fall color: Bronze, maroon or purple
Other notable characteristics: Mature stems exfoliate to reveal a rich brown inner bark which is attractive in winter.
Hypericum frondosum 'Sunburst'
St. John's wort

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-4' tall, 3-4' wide
Flowers: Bright yellow flowers with a dense bushy center
Fruit: Reddish-brown capsules
Foliage:  Blue green leaves  
Other notable characteristics: Attractive exfoliating reddish-brown to purplish bark develops on mature stems.
Ilex glabra 'Shamrock'
Inkberry holly

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-4' tall, 3-4' wide
Flowers: Attracts bees
Fruit: Attracts birds
Foliage:  Broadleaf evergreen, spineless leaves
Ilex verticillata 'Afterglow'
Winterberry holly
Nativar

Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 4 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-6' tall, 3-6' wide
Fruit: Orange-red berries attract birds
Other notable characteristics: 'Afterglow' is a female cultivar and requires a male pollinator (such as, 'Jim Dandy') to produce berries.
Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet'
Virginia sweetspire
Nativar

Plant of Merit

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 10 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-4' tall, 4-6' wide
Flowers: Fragrant, white
Fall color: Varying shades of red, orange and gold
Juniperus × pfitzeriana 'Sea Green'
Chinese juniper

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 4-6' tall, 6-8' wide
Foliage:  Evergreen
Malus sargentii 'Tina'
Sargent crabapple

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 9 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 4-5' tall, 4-5' wide
Flowers: Pink buds open to profuse fragrant, white flowers
Fruit: Pea-sized crabapples, attractive to birds
Physocarpus opulifolius 'Seward' SUMMER WINE
Ninebark
Nativar

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 4-6' tall, 4-6' wide
Flowers: Flattened clusters of pinkish white
Foliage:  Deeply cut, wine-red foliage
Other notable characteristics: Exfoliating bark on mature branches peels in strips to reveal several layers of reddish to light brown inner bark in winter.
Rhododendron 'Delaware Valley White'
Evergreen azalea

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals
Sun: Part shade
Average size: 3-4' tall, 3-4' wide
Flowers: Clusters of white
Foliage:  Yellow in winter
Rhododendron 'Girard's Crimson'
Evergreen azalea

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 7 professionals
Sun: Part shade
Average size: 2-4' tall, 3-4' wide
Flowers: Crimson red with darker eye
Foliage:  Glossy, dark green leaves acquire red and copper tones in winter
Rhododendron 'Girard's Fuchsia'
Evergreen azalea

Tried & Trouble-free:
Recommended by 8 professionals
Sun: Part shade
Average size: 4-6' tall, 4-6' wide
Flowers: Reddish purple  
Foliage: Evergreen
Rhododendron 'Hino-crimson'
Evergreen azalea

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Part shade
Average size: 2-4' tall, 3-5' wide
Flowers: Crimson red
Foliage:  Small glossy dark green leaves acquire bronze tones in winter
Rhododendron 'My Mary'
Deciduous azalea

Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 1 professional
Sun: Part shade
Average size: 4-6' tall, 3-5' wide
Flowers: Fragrant, bright yellow with orange tubes
Rhododendron (PJM Group)
Rhododendron

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 9 professionals
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Average size: 3-6' tall, 3-7' wide
Flowers: Lavender, pink, rose (depending on cultivar)
Foliage: Leathery, dark green leaves acquire purple tones in winter
Rhododendron 'Stewartstonian'
Evergreen azalea

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Part shade
Average size: 4-5' tall, 4-5' wide
Flowers: Orange-red
Foliage:  Glossy, dark green foliage is evergreen, but turns reddish-chocolate in cold winters
Rhododendron yedoense var. poukhanense
Korean azalea

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Average size: 3-6' tall, 6-12' wide
Flowers:  Lavender to rose purple with a darker blotch
Fall color: Orange-red
Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger' TIGER EYES
Staghorn sumac
Nativar

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 7 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-6' tall, 3-6' wide
Fruit: Reddish clusters on female plants
Foliage:  Bright yellow
Fall color: Orange and scarlet
Rosa 'Bucbi' CAREFREE BEAUTY
Shrub rose

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 3-5' tall, 3-4' wide
Flowers: Large, fragrant, pink
Fruit:  Orange hips in fall, persist into winter
Foliage:  Glossy, dark green
Rosa 'Meidomonac' BONICA
Shrub rose

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 3-4' tall, 3-5' wide
Flowers: Large profuse clusters of soft pink, fully double
Fruit:  Orange hips in fall, persist into winter
Spiraea japonica 'Goldflame'
Japanese spirea

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 9 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 3-4' tall, 3-4' wide
Flowers: Flat-topped clusters of pink
Foliage: Yellow-green
Fall color: Yellow-orange-copper hues
Spiraea nipponica 'Snowmound'
Spirea

Tried & Trouble-free
: Recommended by 8 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 2-4' tall, 2-4' wide
Flowers: Profuse, snow white
Foliage:  Blue-green
Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'
Spirea

Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 2 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 3-5' tall, 3-5' wide
Flowers: White clusters
Foliage:  Fine, golden yellow leaves
Fall color: Orange
Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'
Lilac

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 4-5' tall, 5-7' wide
Flowers: Sweetly fragrant, pale pink
Taxus × media 'Densiformis'
Yew

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 10 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-4' tall, 4-6' wide
Foliage:  Evergreen
Taxus × media 'Wardii'
Yew

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-6' tall, 8-20' wide
Foliage:  Evergreen
Thuja occidentalis 'Hetz Midget'
American arborvitae

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 10 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-4' tall, 4-5' wide
Foliage:  Evergreen
Other notable characteristics: Prune to maintain tight habit
Viburnum × burkwoodii 'Conoy'
Burkwood viburnum

Plant of Merit
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 4-5' tall, 4-8' wide
Flowers: Fragrant, creamy white
Fruit: Red berry-like, eventually turning black, attractive to birds
Foliage:  Extremely glossy, dark green
Fall color: Maroon
Viburnum carlesii
Koreanspice viburnum

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 7 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 4-6' tall, 4-7' wide
Flowers: Extremely fragrant, pink-changing-to-white flowers arranged in snowball-like clusters
Viburnum carlesii 'Compactum'
Koreanspice viburnum

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 2.5-4' tall, 2.5-4' wide
Flowers: Extremely fragrant, pink-changing-to-white flowers arranged in snowball-like clusters
Viburnum dentatum 'Christom' BLUE MUFFIN
Arrowwood viburnum
Nativar

Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 7 professionals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Average size: 3-5' tall, 3-4' wide
Flowers: White
Fruit: Pea-sized blue berries that mature in late summer
Foliage:  Dark green
Fall color: Orange to burgundy-purple
Weigela florida 'Alexandra' WINE AND ROSES
Weigela

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 10 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 4-5' tall, 4-6' wide
Flowers: Reddish-pink, funnel-shaped flowers
Foliage: Burgundy-purple
Fall color: Very dark purple
Other notable characteristics: Attracts hummingbirds / Sporadic rebloom
Weigela florida 'Bramwell' FINE WINE
Weigela

Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals
Sun: Full sun
Average size: 2-4' tall, 2-4' wide
Flowers: Rose-pink, funnel-shaped flowers
Foliage: Dark burgundy
Fall color: Dark burgundy
Other notable characteristics: Attracts hummingbirds / Sporadic rebloom