CO-Horts Blog

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Some More Unusual Shrubs to Consider for Colorado

Some More Unusual Shrubs to Consider for Colorado

James E. Klett

Professor Emeritus

The following five shrubs have proven to be tough and reliable options for Colorado Front Range. We have observed their performance over a number of years at the Heritage Arboretum on the Colorado State University Campus. They have shown year after year to be adaptable and very dependable. Most have multiple seasons of interest and ornamental features.


1.       Berberis x ‘Tara’ - Emerald Carousel® Barberry

·         This shrub is a hybrid between B.thunbergia and B.Koreana with deep green summer foliage with persisting red to purplish fall foliage color. It has a rounded growth habit with more arching branches and grows to about 4-5 feet in height and width. It is cold hardy to zone 4 to 6.

·         Sun, xeric

·         Tips and tricks – it has more showy yellow flowers in spring followed by red fruit which can persist after leaf drop. Plant very adaptable to most soil conditions.  

2.       Cornus mas – Cornliancherry Dogwood

·         This dogwood can be grown as a larger shrub or smaller tree maturing to about 15-15 feet in height and width. The yellow flowers before the leaves in March are often the first sign of spring which is followed by red fruit in August that is often sparsely produced due to late spring frost. Hardy to zone 4.

·         Sun, xeric

·         Tips and tricks – the darker green foliage is attractive during the summer with prominent venation and prefers a well-drained soil but is quite pH adaptable.

3.       Foresteria neomexicana - New Mexico Privet

·         This privet is a native Colorado Shrub that can be pruned to a small multi-stem tree by pruning out lower twigs to display light tan to off white bark. It has small yellowish flowers before the leaves in April followed by blue-black fruit on female plants. It can grow 15-18 feet in height and width. Hardy to zone 4 to 7.

·         Sun, xeric

·         Tips and tricks – this is a very drought tolerant shrub and adapts well to well-drained alkaline soil.

4.       Kolkwitzia amabilis (syn. linnaea amabilis) - Beauty Bush

·         Beauty bush is given that name due to the mid-late spring flowers with yellow throats that cover the entire plant for several weeks in late spring. It has a very dense upright arching due to vase shape to fountain like growth habit. The fruit which is a brown universal shaped capsule like fruit that persists into the winter. It is cold hardy to zone 4 to 8.

·         Sun, xeric

·         Tips and tricks – the plant has exfoliating light greyish brown bark that shreds on older stems and is quite disease and pest free. Leaves turn reddish in the fall.

5.       Viburnum burejaeticum ‘P017S’ - Mini Man™ Dwarf Manchurium Viburnum

·       This is a very useful more dwarf shrub that matures to about 4 to 6 feet in height and width with darker green foliage that turns burgundy in the fall. It has white flowers in May that develop into persistent red to black fruit in fall into winter. Hardy zone 4 to 9.

·        Sun, xeric

·    Tips and tricks – Mini Man has good drought tolerance and is a great bird and bee shrub.             

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