Michigan may be best known for its breathtaking lakes and sprawling forests, but the state also offers thousands of acres of untamed shrubland.
The diversity of the types of shrubs in Michigan ranges from the fragrant viburnum to the sweet saskatoon to the prickly holly bush.
If you’re tired of seeing the same old flowers and trees in your yard, consider adding one of these unique types of shrubs in Michigan to your landscape!
The bearberry, also known as the kinnikinick, will be discussed first on Michigan’s different types of shrubs. It is a winter-hardy shrub that can survive temperatures below 0 degrees. They’re also deciduous, so they have a softer look than evergreens.
Their leaves turn yellow and orange before falling off during autumn. This shrub can grow to be six feet tall or taller, but it’s usually trimmed to remain shorter.
It’s an excellent ornamental plant for your yard because of its attractive appearance and ability to withstand cold weather.
Plus, there are many varieties of bearberry shrubs with different leaf shapes and colors that you can choose from if you want a certain appearance for your garden.
2. Lowland Blueberry
On the list of the types of shrubs In Michigan, there is the Lowland Blueberry. This shrub can grow up to 6 feet tall and live for 50-75 years. This shrub has large, oval-shaped leaves with serrated edges.
The fruit of this plant is dark purple, sweet, and edible when ripened. It is best to harvest the lowland blueberries from late July through August.
The Lowland Blueberry does well in acidic soil and full sun. Also, they are drought tolerant, which makes them perfect for people living in dry regions.
3. Michigan Holly
The name already depicts that it’s one of the types of shrubs in Michigan. Michigan Holly is a shrub that is endemic to the state of Michigan.
It typically grows to be 3-6 feet tall and has white bell-shaped flowers with dark purple anthers that bloom from April through June.
Further, the leaves are glossy, leathery, dark green, ovate, and grow 2-4 inches long. The fruit is a small berry that ripens in late summer or early fall.
4. American Cranberry Bush
The American cranberry bush is an underused ornamental shrub of the types of shrubs in Michigan. The American cranberry bush has a medium-sized, upright habit and can be grown from seed or cuttings.
The American cranberry bush’s leaves are an attractive dark green color and give off a nice peppermint fragrance.
The flowers of this shrub are also fragrant, white, and attractive enough to use as cut flowers for decorative purposes.
The berries this shrub produces are edible but not palatable. They make great preserves or jelly when cooked with sugar and water.
5. Arrowwood Viburnum
The Arrowwood Viburnum is a deciduous flowering shrub that grows to be about 12-15 feet tall. It has clusters of small, white flowers in the spring, followed by many red berries. The Arrowwood Viburnum can thrive in various conditions and is not picky regarding soil type.
The leaves are deep green, giving the shrub a well-rounded appearance. The name of this shrub originates from the arrow-shaped clusters of flowers that resemble an archer’s arrow.
This plant is also sometimes called Highbush Cranberry. The berries on this shrub are edible and can be used for pies or jams. But they are poisonous if eaten raw due to their high acidity levels.
6. Bush Honeysuckle
Like some other types of shrubs in Michigan, the bush honeysuckle is a deciduous shrub. It can grow to a height of 4-10 feet and a width of 4-6 feet.
The leaves are ovate, 1-2 inches long, and have irregular serrations on the margins. The flowers are fragrant, pink, and tubular and grow in clusters up to 5 inches long.
The fruit is a red berry that turns dark purple when ripe. Bush honeysuckle prefers full sun with moist soil but can tolerate partial shade or dry conditions. They typically bloom from May through July, with peak blooming occurring in June.
7. Mountain Maple
Also not left out of the types of shrubs in Michigan is the Mountain Maple or Acer spicatum. It is a deciduous tree that grows best in moist and shady areas with rich soil.
Trees can reach heights of 60 feet with a spread of 25 feet. Leaves are dark green with three broad leaflets. Fall color ranges from yellow to red before the leaves fall off the trees in the winter months.
The best time to plant a spicebush shrub is between the beginning of April and the end of May. The plant will grow to be about three feet tall but can spread up to nine feet wide.
So, make sure that you have enough space before planting. Spicebushes require full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil.
As long as it has been planted at least 30 inches from any other shrubs, spicebush will grow fine without any extra care.
9. Nannyberry Viburnum
One of the flowering shrubs out of the types of shrubs in Michigan is the Nannyberry viburnum. It is a flowering shrub that grows up to 8 feet tall. It combines American cranberry bush, arrowwood viburnum, and European highbush cranberry.
The leaves are dark green, oval-shaped, and have serrated edges. Flowers are white or pink and grow in clusters at the end of branches.
Nannyberries can be grown as hedges or screens to provide privacy. However, fruit is not edible, but birds will eat it.
10. Maple Leaf Viburnum
The maple leaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) is a shrub that grows in wet woods and on moist slopes. And it can reach heights up to 15 feet tall.
The leaves are dark green with a sweet smell when crushed. One of its most distinctive characteristics is the flower clusters that grow along the stems, resembling little red berries. This sets it slightly apart from other types of shrubs in Michigan.
A juniper shrub is an evergreen shrub that grows to a height of about three feet. It has a symmetrical shape, and the leaves are needle-like. The branches of the juniper shrub grow horizontally and can be used as fencing.
Surging, the junipers are popular for landscaping because they are easy to maintain and require little care.
Also, they can survive winter temperatures down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit with little to no damage. They make great hedges as well as screens or windbreaks too.
The foliage is dark green in summer and then turns red or bronze during winter months before turning green again in the springtime.
12. White Cedar or Arborvitae
The white cedar or arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) is a dense, evergreen conifer. It has a pyramidal shape when young and becomes more columnar with age.
Further, the bark is peeling and scaly, and the leaves are flat and linear, growing in opposite pairs on the branchlets.
The cones are small, cylindrical, and borne singly on short shoots that appear to be leafless at first. Nevertheless, it is an amazing species on Michigan’s list of types of shrubs.
13. Red-twig Dogwood/Red Osier Dogwood
The red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a beautiful and versatile shrub that can thrive in many different conditions.
It’s also commonly referred to as the Red Osier Dogwood due to its similarity to the Osier Dogwood. These shrubs grow up to 6 feet tall with a 3-foot spread and are best planted 4-6 feet apart from each other.
This variety of dogwood prefers moist soil and partial shade, though it can tolerate full sun with enough water. The leaves turn a brilliant yellow in the fall, adding rich color to your yard during the colder months.
The red-twig dogwoods’ pinkish or white flowers bloom throughout summer and into fall, attracting bees for pollination. Undoubtedly, this is one of Michigan’s most beautiful types of shrubs!
14. Common Cinquefoil
Of the other types of shrubs in Michigan, if you’re looking for a shrub that can handle the extreme cold, look no further than the common cinquefoil.
This evergreen is found especially at home in our northern states. Plus, the common cinquefoil is often used as an ornamental plant because of its beautiful yellow flowers.
These flowers usually bloom from late May to early June. These plants also have a long blooming period from July to September, so they’ll provide excellent color all summer long!
15. Wild Raisin or Witherod Viburnum
The Wild Raisin, or Witherod Viburnum, is a hardy, deciduous shrub that can grow up to 15 feet tall. This flowering shrub has white blooms that bloom in clusters of five to seven flowers.
The petals are heart-shaped with a dark center, and the leaves are smooth, oval-shaped, and glossy green.
Wild Raisin or Witherod Viburnum is a popular landscape choice because it can tolerate shade and prefers moist soil.
The Wild Raisin or Witherod Viburnum is one of Michigan’s 8 lesser-known types of shrubs you may not have heard of yet!
16. Gray Dogwood
The Gray Dogwood is a deciduous shrub with attractive, glossy green leaves and delicate white flowers. It is an understory tree that prefers partial shade to full sun.
The Gray Dogwood’s leaves turn red and brown in autumn. Its fruit is a small black berry that attracts birds but can be dangerous for people if ingested.
17. Blackhaw Viburnum
Checking the list of the types of shrubs in Michigan, this one is one of the most popular. The Blackhaw Viburnum is a plant that can be found all over Michigan.
This shrub is most commonly found on hillsides and along roads and trails. Meanwhile, it does best in a sunny, dry location.
The Blackhaw Viburnum will grow anywhere from 3-6 feet tall, but it usually stays around 4 feet tall due to constant pruning by humans.
These shrubs have clusters of white flowers that bloom during late spring or early summer. Small black berries follow the flowers that birds and other animals eat during the fall months.
18. Speckled Adler
The speckled Adler is an evergreen shrub like the other types of shrubs in Michigan. It’s typically seen as a low-growing, bushy plant with dark green leaves.
Also, it has clusters of small white flowers that bloom in early spring. The speckled Adler reaches heights of up to six feet tall, with a spread of three to four feet wide.
This shrub is hardy and can tolerate many different types of soil conditions and environments. However, its tiny leaves are an unusual trait for an evergreen shrub. But they contrast greatly against other foliage when seen together with plants like hostas or ferns.
19. Pussy Willow
Another plant on our list of the different types of shrubs in Michigan is the Pussy Willow. Also known scientifically as Salix discolor, this is a shrub that grows up to 7′ tall. It’s most often found in deciduous forests but can grow just about anywhere.
The leaves are typically divided into three lobes, and the bark is light gray and smooth. Pussy willows bloom in early spring, with yellow flowers that bloom on drooping catkins.
The leadplant (Amorpha canescens) is a shrub that grows up to 8 feet tall but typically only reaches about 3 feet. It has long, narrow leaves that are 1-2 inches wide and have a rough texture.
The plant produces yellow flowers from June to September, with the most bloom occurring during summer.
Leadplant likes full sun and dry soil, so it’s best planted on south-facing slopes or hillsides where it has good drainage.
Thinking of a stress-free plant to choose from the list of types of shrubs in Michigan? Here is the Leadplant!
21. Prairie Willow
The prairie willow, Salix humilis, is a shrub that can be found all over the state of Michigan. It is actually a member of the willow family.
While it might not look like much at first glance, this shrub can grow quite tall and wide. Moreso, it has slender branches and alternate leaves that are lance-shaped with serrated edges.
The flowers are small but yellowish-green in color, and they appear on the tips of the branches from April to June. It prefers full sun or partial shade.
Finally, you may find it along roadsides, near rivers, on hillsides, or around ponds, amongst other types of shrubs in Michigan.
22. Black Chokeberry
Black chokeberry, also known as Aronia or chokecherry, is a deciduous plant that grows to about 4 feet tall.
The flowers are usually deep purplish-pink and bloom from July to September. The leaves are oval-shaped and have pointed tips.
Proceeding, they turn a brilliant red color in the fall, which lends itself well to the landscape. When it comes time to harvest black chokeberries, cut off the branches with shears after dropping their berries. We aren’t done with the types of shrubs in Michigan yet! Continue reading!
23. American Elderberry
This is also one of the most popular types of shrubs in Michigan. The American Elderberry shrub is most commonly found throughout the Midwest but is also native to parts of the Northeast.
The leaves are dark green and oval-shaped, with serrated edges. This plant can grow up to five feet tall and has white flowers bloom from July to September.
Also known as Sambucus canadensis, this shrub thrives best in moist soil and partial shade. There are over 300 species of elderberries, but only a small handful have been found in North America.
24. New Jersey Tea
Like some types of shrubs in Michigan, New Jersey Tea, or Ceanothus americanus, is a perennial shrub. It thrives well in woodlands and moist environments with plenty of water to support it. New Jersey Tea’s leaves are elliptical or linear-lanceolate and grow up to three inches long.
The undersides of the leaves are densely covered with silvery hairs, giving the leaf a whitish hue. The bright pink flowers grow on spikes that tend to remain on the plant for most of the year.
25. Red Elderberry
The red elderberry shrub is a perennial, deciduous plant that thrives in moist, low-lying areas. Compared to other types of shrubs in Michigan, this plant has a medicinal use history.
Interestingly, Red Elderberries were considered a cure for many ailments by Native Americans, including stomach aches and fever. The berries are edible but should be boiled first to release their toxin.
Buttonbush is a perennial shrub that grows to be two-thirds of a meter high and three meters wide. It has small, narrow leaves that are dark green and grow on stems that branch out from the base.
Uniquely, the buttonbush produces clusters of small, white flowers with yellow centers. Buttonbush can be found all over the state of Michigan and does best in moist soil and full sun.
27. Buffaloberry or Soapberry
The buffalo berry shrub can grow up to 10 feet tall and is one of Michigan’s most common types of shrubs. It is found throughout the Great Lakes region. The plant produces white flowers and dark, pea-sized berries that are edible when ripe.
In addition, Buffalo berries have a tart, cranberry-like taste with a slight hint of sweetness. The shrub leaves turn an orangey-red color during the autumn months before dropping off for winter.
Sweet fern, also known as Comptonia peregrina, is a shrub native to North America. It’s often found growing in moist woodlands and near rivers or ponds.
Typically, it ranges from three feet to five feet tall and can be used to make an aromatic tea. It grows quickly and is resistant to deer browsing. So advantageous a plant as one of the types of shrubs in Michigan!
29. Willowleaf Spirea
Willowleaf Spirea is a perennial shrub that grows in zones 4-7. It has pink flowers, and the leaves are green with a reddish tint.
Moreso, this shrub can grow up to 6 feet tall and is known for its resistance to diseases, pests, and cold temperatures. Willowleaf Spirea prefers moist soil, but it can also tolerate drier soil too.
Next on our list of different types of shrubs in Michigan is the Steeplebush. This type of shrub grows to be between 2 and 6 feet tall. It’s a clump-forming, evergreen shrub with oval leaves and dense branching.
The flowers are white or pink and grow at the tips of long stems. Though they’re perennial plants, they can be grown as annuals or biennials if planted early enough in the season.
31. Silky Dogwood, Red Willow
You may have seen silky dogwood in many places, but you might not know its common name. It’s called silky dogwood because of how smooth the leaves are. In fact, if you rub them between your fingers, they feel like silk.
Also, the bark is smooth and doesn’t peel off like other shrubs. Looking at the list of the types of shrubs in Michigan, we can conveniently call this the silkiest of them all!
Red willow is another shrub that is hiding in Michigan. It grows along rivers and streams and has an interesting characteristic: it can grow roots up to eight feet long!
In addition, red willow likes to grow as close to the water as possible. It can withstand flooding for days at a time without damage to its foliage or bark.
The snowberry is a deciduous shrub that produces small, fragrant white or pale pink flowers in the spring. It is often grown as a hedge because it has multiple stems and doesn’t need to be trimmed. Snowberries are native to North America and can grow up to 15 feet tall.
There are two varieties of snowberry: the common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and the twiggy snowberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus). The common variety grows well in dry soil, while the twiggy variety prefers moist soil.
33. Leatherwood, Eastern Leatherwood
Leatherwood is a type of shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall and is often found in swamps and along streams. Leatherwood has yellow-green leaves that are oval-shaped and have serrated edges.
The flowers are pink or white, with 4 petals that grow on thick stems. Moreso, Leatherwood blooms from March to May, with the flowers bearing fruit from July to September.
This shrub can grow in northern states such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Eastern leatherwood is one of the more common types of shrubs in Michigan that grows around marshes and stream banks.
Michigan’s climate and topography offer a wide variety of plant species. This includes many shrubs you may not realize call the Great Lakes State home.
The different types of shrubs in Michigan are the ideal addition to any backyard or garden that’s looking to add visual interest without taking up too much space.
No matter your preferred style or flower color, you can find shrubs to meet your needs in Michigan!