Shrubs are defined as
woody, semiwoody or herbaceous perennial plants, branches arise from the base of the
plants, and grow up to a height of about 0.5 to 4 metres. The plants are usually erect and
bushy. Most of the shrubs are very hardy, require little attention and grow in all types
of soil. Although some plants flower almost throughout the year, in most cases it is
seasonal and selection can be made in such a way that some plants flower almost throughout
the year, in most cases it is seasonal and selection can be made in such a way that some
plants in the shrubbery will be in bloom in different seasons of the year. Shrubs flower
regularly every year and produce flower of almost all the important colours-white, light
yellow, golden-yellow, pink, scarlet, salmon, crimson, rose, violet, light blue, deep blue
and some are sweet scented.
According to the
requirement of sunlight for growth and flowering, shrubs can be classified into three
- Show normal growth and flowering in
- Grow only in partial shade.
- Can grow well both in sun and
Most of the tropical
flowering plants are sun loving and growth and flowering are greatly affected by shade and
it is also observed that lack of morning sun shows much more adverse effect than the
afternoon sun. Plants like Magnolia mutabilis, M.pumila, M.fuscata, species of Pentas,
Olea fragrans. In full sun these plants show signs of scorching during the hot weather and
do not thrive. Shrubs show great variation in height, tall shrubs usually reach a height
of 3 to 4 meters and dwarf shrubs grow only up to 0.4 to 1 meter and thus plants can be
chosen from a large selection for growing in various places according to their suitability
and utility. In addition to their utility as flowering plants, shrubs are also used for
hedges and screening. Acalyphas from the most colourful hedge, Dodonia viscosa, Duranta
plumerii, Clerodendron inerme are usually grown as hedge plants. They are quick growing
plants and stand severe and frequent pruning. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, lxora chinensis,
Bougainvillea, Barleria, Jasminum pubescens and Murraya exotica are also used as hedge
plants and produce showy flowers. Cesturm, Bougainvillea, Jasminum pubescens, Murraya
exotica, Jacquinia ruscifolia can be grown for screening. Hardy dwarf shrubs like Lantana
depressa, L.sellowiana, Russelia, Euphorbia splendens, Gardenia fortunei, Vinca rosea,
Turnera etc. are usually grown in rockery to add colour and also Adenium, Jatropha
podagrica to break the monotony of succulents.
Selection, planting and cultivation of
Selection of shrubs
depends on availability and duration of sunlight at the site of planting, maximum height
and spread of the plant, utility of plants i.e. foliage or flower, deciduous or evergreen
and colour of flowers and season of flowering. It is always safe to plant shrubs during
early monsoon. In the next two to three months of rains it will not only establish in the
soil but will also start new growth and such plants thrive much better in the hot months
of the year. Except hydrophytes garden plants are very susceptible to water logging and
well-drained site should always be selected. Waterlogging for few days or very wet soil
grown plant cannot be obtained in such a place.
In gardens, shrubs are
usually planted in three ways
- In the form of shrubbery, on a long
strip of land where taller shrubs are grown at the back, those with medium height in the
middle and dwarf ones at the front. In this design upper portions of all the plants in the
shrubbery bearing flowers become clearly visible. Colour of flowers and time of flowering
are also considered so that the shrubbery remains colourful throughout the year with bloom
- In small garden or to break monotony of
open space shrubs are often grown in-groups and in this case few plants of the same
variety or of different species are selected.
- Shrubs are also grown as a specimen
plant or in only one row along the border of the garden or a wall.
In order to give a
brighter appearance in the rockery dwarf and hardy shrubs are also planted. Distance of
planting in a shrubbery depends on a size of the plants. Tall and bushy shrubs are
generally planted at a distance of 1.5 to 2.5 ms. Shorter plants with less spreading habit
can be grown at a distance of 0.5 to 1.5metre. Shrubs are watered in winter and more
frequently in summer; slight wilting due to dry soil may cause defoliation and affect the
growth of the plant. It is always advised to give thorough soaking to all plants then to
sprinkle every day. Soaking of only surface soil encourages production of shallow root
system, which not only prevents utilisation of nutrient from lower level of the soil but
also makes the plant more susceptible to drought. Shrubs should be manured during the
rainy season. Well decomposed farm yard manure can be dug in around the root region; use
of bone meal or hoof and horn meal once or twice a year also shows excellent result.
(Euphorbiaceae) Eng. Copperleaf
Acalyhpa are colourful
foliage shrubs used for many purposes. Most of the species are varieties have colourful
shrubbery. These do best in full sun while in partial shade, growth is affected and colour
becomes less attractive.
It is very free
flowering dwarf shrub 1.0 high and produced mass of white flowers in several flushes
during summer and rains. C.macrosiphon should be grown in the front row of a shrubbery.
Propagated by cutting or layering.
Tall much branches
shrub with axillary spines, about 2.5 to 3.0m high.
flowers blue, foliage variegated.
It is usually grown as
hedge and forms an impenetrable barrier.
ornamental plant when in fruit, reaches a height of 2.4m. Flowers small, scented. Flowers
usually appear in the early rains and the fruits turn yellow in winter. It is very easy to
grow and likes full sun. Propagation by air layering.
These are the most
useful flowering shrubs in Indian gardens. For species, H.mutabilis, H. schizopetalous,
H.collinus and the varieties of H. rosa-sinensis are commonly grown in tropical gardens.
Ixora chinensis var:
Rosea. A plant about 1.4m high. Flowers pale pink becoming reddish in age.
Compact growing habit with small crowded bunches of flowers, deep pink in colour.
A compact shrub about 1.5m tall. Flowers deep scarlet.
A small shrub about 1.5m high.
Ixora barbata A
large shrub about 3m or more. Flowers white.
A large evergreen shrub. Flowers white, sweet scented.
Tall, often growing up
to 3.6 to 4.6m.
petals light yellow
petals rose on light green sepal.
Both the varieties
grow tall and appear to be small trees with stout woody stem. Crown is much branched and
spreading and bears large panicle of numerous small flowers in the summer and rains.
Propagation by seed and cutting. Lawsonia is usually grown as hedge.
mutabilis is a large perennial shrub with only a few straight branches. The green
branches become woody with age and then the plant acquires the look of a small tree. In
the early cold weather the plant produces single or double white flowers (10-12cms in
diameter) that change to pink in the course of the day. Hibiscus mutabilis, commonly
called the changeable rose comes from South China. In the US the plant is
known as the confederate rose or the cotton rose.
The plant prefers
high humidity and a porous soil. It is host to some troublesome insects like scales and
aphids. Manual removal of insects, though cumbersome, is a better method to maintain the
health of the plant. Proper trimming after flowering is recommended for a second flush of
flowering and to keep the plant in shape during the non-flowering season. The plant is
propagated through seeds and cuttings. Seed raised plants have a tenacity to produce only
single flowers. Being a large shrub with a good number of showy flowers, Hibiscus
mutabilis is space filler and a colourful plant for the last row of a mixed shrubbery.