Four Spring Blooming Shrubs That Repeat

Most gardeners love a deliciously fragrant lilac or colorful mophead hydrangea but it’s a bit frustrating to grow these shrubs when they don’t bloom again all year. Growers have tried to solve this issue by hybridizing shrubs so that gardeners can enjoy blooms at least twice, sometimes three times, a growing season. Here are four cultivars you wouldn’t expect to rebloom but do.

Eternal Fragrance Daphne

Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance'

Eternal Fragrance Daphne

There’s nothing like the enchanting fragrance of a daphne in early spring. When all else is dormant, these low evergreen shrubs with their whitish pink flowers come alive, casting a sweet scent far into the air. Now, ‘Eternal Fragrance’ (Daphne × transatlantica ‘Blafra’) will bloom in spring and in mid-summer. Sometimes, it has even bloomed for me again in early fall. It grows to about knee-height and will bush out sideways. I like ‘Eternal Fragrance’ because it looks leggy in youth and full in maturity, the opposite of most daphnes. Oh and by the way, I’ve transplanted mine, twice, with no problems (though I made sure to water right away and regularly afterward).

Bloomerang Lilac

Bloomerang Lilac

Bloomerang Lilac

This is a fairly new introduction that I use a lot in client gardens. It’s a smaller lilac than the traditional Syringa vulgaris and has a tighter mass of leaves like making it prettier even when not in bloom. Beware it can grow to about 5 feet tall though. The Bloomerang Lilac (Syringa x ‘Penda’) sports small clusters of pinkish lavender flowers in May and then again in late summer. Likes full sun but can take part shade. It also reblooms better when the spent blossoms are cut back soon after it blooms. Deciduous.

Original Hydrangea, Endless Summer

Endless Summer Hydrangea 'Original'

Hydrangea ‘Original’ from the Endless Summer Series

Hydrangeas are known to bloom on the previous year’s growth, that’s why if you cut them back too far, you won’t get flowers. A good rule of thumb is to only give it a short haircut, cut back to the last set of leaves or the still-green stems if you want it to bloom the next season. If you don’t care about losing flowers and want to reduce height, you can cut back further. However, since hydrangeas are cane shrubs, picking out the oldest canes and removing them is the best way to prune. Anyway, the ‘Original’ hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Bailmer’) of the Endless Summer series was a big deal when released because it bloomed on both last year’s and the current year’s stems. It was advertised to repeat bloom all summer long but I’ve found you get flowers in June/July and if you water enough (and maybe fertilize), they bloom again in late summer. Otherwise, they can go dormant like a traditional hydrangea. Deciduous.

Autumn Royalty Azalea

Autumn Royalty Azalea

Autumn Royalty Azalea. (Photo courtesy of Encore Azalea)

There’s a whole line of Encore Azaleas that rebloom, all of which share the first name “Autumn,” to make them easy to spot. They come in a variety of colors: peach, red, purple, white, etc. But in particular, I like Autumn Royalty (Rhododendron ‘Conlec’) for its easy purple color and hardiness. It’s a bigger azalea, growing to about four feet wide and tall, but has pretty dark foliage that contrasts nicely with the bloom. Like any azalea, it prefers part-sun, preferably shade in the afternoon and looks good in a woodland setting with hostas and ferns. It’s especially nice near a chartreuse colored hosta like ‘Sum and Substance’ or a Gold Heart Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’). For it to bloom in April and September, I’ve had to make sure it’s well watered.

Last Chance to Transplant, Seattle

It’s late May and our sunny, Seattle weather has lasted almost two weeks, but rain is on the horizon. I’ve been busy planting and weeding and transplanting. Some shrubs like camellias and daphnes are notoriously difficult to transplant and I haven’t had much success with those. I have had success with transplanting magnolias (another difficult plant.) But there are a few Northwest shrubs that are super easy to transplant and this holiday weekend is a great time to get in last-minute switches. They all share a kind of pancake of fibrous root system that makes for a smoother transition to a new home. They must be watered immediately after the move and then watered well and often, but if they get enough water, they’ll snuggle right in. I’ve had several not even wilt temporarily. So before the hot, regular stretches of sun approach, I recommend making edits to the garden now.


Rhodies are so tough. My most successful rhododendron transplant story happened a few years ago when my friend Angela and I transplanted about 10 shoulder-high shrubs to a shadier, woodland location. They all survived. It’s amazing how rhododendrons bounce back.




Who doesn’t love a hydrangea? Showy huge blossoms, either mophead or lacecap, an elegant leaf pattern, a graceful branch structure. When pruned and trimmed correctly, hydrangeas offer their gifts for many years. When I inherited a handful of hydrangeas in my garden, they were healthy enough but in hot afternoon sun. So I transplanted them to locations where they received afternoon shade and they’re thriving.



This photo shows a mature Hebe buxifolia, but, of course, there are several smaller species with white flowers, pink, purple, even dark blue. I use them for client homes when a more formal look is desired. They’re a wonderful alternative to the odd-smelling boxwood and rarely need pruning.




What plants are you moving this weekend in the garden? And if you’ve had good luck with a traditionally fussy plant, I’d love to hear about it!

Spring Has Finally Arrived

PeonyGood Sunday morning! If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you’re probably enjoying a gorgeous, sunny day right now. We finally made it through an unusually cold and prolonged rainy spring. Now the peonies are in bloom and I’m feeling inspired. So inspired, in fact, that I have made a change to my blogging life. If you’re a Gardening, Seattle Style subscriber, you may notice this mail came from the Karen K. Hugg website. That’s because I’ve streamlined GSS into this one, making for more frequent posts and richer content. I’ll be offering advice on gardening and posts about writing, motherhood, and Paris and Europe. If none of that interests you, you can always unsubscribe, I won’t be hurt, but if you stick with me, I’ll hopefully enrich your life.

For now, I have to say goodbye and get into the garden. I’m on a roll. I weeded the very back of my yard yesterday and today need to trim back several shrubs. I can’t wait to hear the sounds of birds chirping and lawn mowers buzzing. Feel that warm sun on my arms. How about you? What are you doing to enjoy this lovely day? Cheers.


An Excerpt from “The Scent of a Daphne”

Daphne 'Aureomarginata'I’m pleased to share a sneak peek of my piece, “The Scent of a Daphne,” that appears in Rooted: The Best New Arboreal Nonfiction. It’s about my time in horticulture school, my husband’s cancer treatment, and the unexpected gift I received.

“It was early September, my second semester of horticulture school, and class was about to begin. I stood outside the door on the narrow sidewalk that ran along the building. The day was warm and the door propped open with a wedge. Flies buzzed in and out. Students chatted and shuffled through notebooks while friends hugged at seeing each other again. I hadn’t made any friends yet, but that didn’t bother me. I had other things on my mind. Like the situation I had to explain to Tim, my professor.

He was an outdoorsy 50-something with wavy, gray hair dressed in boots and a canvas jacket. “What’s up?” he asked.

It was actually what was down. Down in my life. As in down and out, or beaten down, or in a downward spiral. My husband, Ethan, had just had an operation, not to remove an organ or clean out dangerous tissue or repair a ligament. The surgeon had installed a port in his chest, a small flat disc with a little tube connected to his artery so chemotherapy drugs could be injected into his bloodstream. He was about to be poked with a lot of needles a lot of the time and surgically inserting a port was easier on his body than poking the same veins again and again.”

Thanks for reading! There are so many amazing pieces in Rooted. When our editor sent me the galleys, I fell in love with the collection right off the bat at the first essay. It’s now available at Amazon and through the publisher, Outpost19. Cheers…