Choosing plants for your landscape requires some analysis and planning. From sunlight and wind exposure to water availability and soil type, there’s plenty to consider. The erratic weather and opposite temperature extremes in Ohio can make this more challenging. But with the right selection of hardy shrubs and trees, your landscape can thrive. We’ll tell you which are the best plants to grow in Ohio and how to set them up for success. 

Flowering Shrubs

Consider any of these hardy shrubs for a low-maintenance, colorful landscape. 

1. Azalea

Need a small shrub to line a walkway or something taller for a woodsy garden? Azaleas add a tropical flair and come in many heights and almost any color you want. They grow well in nutrient-rich, acidic soil with a mulch covering to protect them throughout the winter. Add them to your garden in the spring or fall, with access to at least partial sun. 

2. Bicolor Butterfly Bush

Enjoy fragrant, long-lasting blooms with the bicolor butterfly bush! These dazzling plants offer several beautiful hues as they age. The lively foliage perks up in the spring before the fragrant, 10-inch panicles bloom from July until fall. The later blooms provide color after other plants are finished, but you’ll also enjoy the nice green backdrop this gives other perennials earlier in the season. It’s deer-resistant but attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. 

3. Hydrangea 

Fill a big space or create a focal point in your garden with a voluminous hydrangea plant. These tall shrubs need space to spread out – up to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide – and come in a variety of different blossoms and colors. Some hydrangeas even change their bloom color based on soil conditions (unless they start white). Plant in mild temperatures during the spring or fall under partial shade  and provide regular watering. Even cut a few stems to enjoy in a vase.

4. Purple Lilac

Nothing beats the smell of a lilac shrub each spring. These fragrant, easily cared for plants deliver vibrant flowers mid spring. Give your lilac well-drained soil with full sun and it will give you much in return. Lilac is extremely hardy in windy areas with low temps, so it’s a wise choice that’s easy to maintain. Use it as an accent plant near the window to enjoy the scent, or a larger hedge for privacy. Either way, you can’t go wrong. 


Trees require a bit more of an investment than shrubs, but proper planting and maintenance will give you privacy, shade and beauty for many years.

1. Buckeye Tree

Where else would we start but with the buckeye tree? The Ohio State tree is an ornamental shade tree with textured dark green leaves, creamy yellow flowers and shiny buckeye nuts. Plant this native Ohio tree before summer heat arrives, or wait till fall. Instead of using the buckeye tree as a focal point, build it into a backyard where there’s at least some shade with moist soil. Don’t eat the nuts, but save them for crafts or even tailgate gear. 

2. American Sycamore

To get a large, rapid-growing tree, try one of the oldest in North America – the American sycamore.  These can get massive! As the largest diameter of any American hardwood, the 70- to 100-ft-tall sycamore provides terrific shade much faster than other shade trees can. And they’ll be around for a while with an expected lifespan of 250 or more years.

3. Pagoda Dogwood

The 15- to 25-ft-high pagoda dogwood is an excellent option for anyone looking for a smaller tree. Dogwoods prefer slightly acidic, moist soil in full or partial sun to deliver clusters of white flowers each spring. Enjoy the aroma of these blossoms, as well as watching the foliage turn dark red each fall. 

Tips for Best Growth in Ohio Climates

Growing flowering shrubs and trees in Ohio is tricky because the climate here includes both tropic and Canadian air currents and we can experience extremes – sometimes two in one day! With that in mind, it’s smart to plan for hardy trees and plants that can survive low temperatures. Extra efforts preparing for the seasons also pays off 

Severe, cold winters can wipe out trees and shrubs after years of investing in care. Protect them by: 

  • Pruning dead or broken branches, or any heavy branches hanging over your home
  • If you see any diseased bark, ask a certified arborist to inspect it (to ensure health of the entire tree for spring)
  • Consider a slow-release fertilizer for extra nutrients
  • Replenish mulch if under an inch or two
  • Wrap newly planted trees and shrubs in burlap to protect from wind, snow and salt. 

Once spring arrives, some varieties may need pruned in order to produce fresh growth. Research your specific shrubs as some flowering plants require waiting to prune until after blooms arrive. 

Throughout the summer, be aware of insect problems, and keep an eye on soil moisture levels. Introduce fertilizer as needed, and don’t hesitate to reach out to experts for help. 

Brothers Grimm

Whether you struggle to get your plants to grow, or need assistance preparing your property for winter, Bros Grimm is here to help. Contact us for summer and winter landscaping care that can lead to the best growth in Ohio climates.