It sounds like an oxymoron because all plants require some level of maintenance, whether it’s watering or deadheading spent blooms. With shrubs, it’s the hesitation to prune. Is it the wrong time? Too early? Too late? How much should I trim off? What if I hack it too much – or not enough?
So, here are a few hacks for those who fear pruning – or simply want a few no-fuss shrubs in the landscape. According to Proven Winners, these shrubs require no pruning to retain their natural compact habit. Descriptions are provided by Proven Winners.
1. “Sunjoy Mini Salsa” dwarf barberry. An improved version of “Crimson Pygmy” with its purple foliage and short habit. “Sunjoy” is more consistenly dwarf and offers purple-red foliage that doesn’t revert to green. It maintains a tidy 18-24-inch round shape and requires full sun in USDA Zones 4 to 8. Use it as a foundation planting or even a short hedge.
2. “Show Off Starlet” forsythia. This is the perfect forsythia for lovers of this lovely yellow in early spring, but don’t have the space for a standard forsythia — or the desire to prune it ruthlessly after it blooms. This selection matures to 2- to 3-feet tall and offers a mass of bright yellow flowers which line the stems from base to tip. It won’t sprout unruly, long stems and rarely, if ever, requires pruning. It matures to just under waist-high and needs a sunny spot in Zones 5 to 8.
3. “Spilled Wine” weigela. I’ve fallen in love with these beautiful spring bloomers, and this one is for gardeners who want something shorter than “Wine & Roses” for a foundation plant or lower-growing mass planting. At maturity, it is 2 to 3 feet tall and about the same spread with a mass of deep purple foliage and magenta pink flowers. Bonus: It is deer-resistant.
4. “Double Play” gold spirea. Easy to grow and naturally compact, this spirea doesn’t need shaping and makes a good foundation or mass planting in Zones 3 to 8. Hummingbirds like their bright blooms. There are eight colors in the “Double Bloom” series.
5. “North Pole” thuja. A deep winter color, naturally dense pyramidal shape and resistance to winter burn, this evergreen arborvitae is considered idea for no-prune hedges and screens. It is super hardy in Zones 3-7 and grows 10 to 15 feet tall but only 3 to 5 feet wide in full to part sun.
6. “Sugar Tip” hibiscus. A semi-dwarf, seedless rose of Sharon grows in full sun in Zones 5-9. It matures to 5 to 6 feet tall with upright stems lined with variegated white and blue-green leaves. It can be kept shorter, if desired, bur requires no pruning and won’t reach the 8 to 12 feet heights of standard varieties. Double flowers are soft pink — and they don’t set seed.