Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Shrub Care - A closer look at our plant tags


It’s our mission to select the best and most beautiful flowering shrubs the world has to offer, but that doesn’t go very far if we don’t give you the knowledge and information you need to be successful once they are planted in your landscape. Here’s a closer look at what, exactly, we mean by the information on our plant tags, and links to more helpful content on shrub care and maintenance.

If the information below still does not answer your question about our shrubs, please contact us.

A closer look at our plant tags

We introduced new, expanded tags for shrubs in 2015. Older versions of our plant tag will still be floating around for a while, so the tag on the plant you purchased may not match this exactly. If you are looking for additional information on a plant, please search for your variety in our database.

Date Planted:
Use a pencil or permanent marker to write in the date and location where you planted your new shrub for future reference. We recommend that you remove the tag from the plant and keep it indoors so you can refer back to it periodically.

Light Exposure:

  • Sun=6+ hours of bright sun each day
  • Part Sun= 4-6 hours of sun daily, or filtered light throughout the day
  • Shade= fewer than 4 hours of sun a day.

If more than one exposure is listed, this indicates that the plant can tolerate both conditions. It also indicates that the plant prefers shadier conditions in hot climates and sunnier conditions in cool ones.

This tells you if a plant tolerates the coldest winter temperatures experienced in your area. If you do not know your hardiness zone, you can find it here. Generally speaking, if you find one of our shrubs for sale at your local garden center, you can count on it being hardy in your landscape.

The height and width you can expect the plant to achieve at maturity. It may take several seasons for the plant to reach these proportions, depending on climate, growing conditions, and the size of the plant you start with.

A rough guideline explaining how far apart to plant multiple specimens of the same variety based on the width of the plant at maturity.

Bloom Time:
When you can expect the plant to flower. If it says “foliage plant” here, that means it is does not bloom (in the case of conifers) or that the blooms are insignificant (boxwood, for example).

This indicates the best time to prune the plant IF it needs it. Not all plants strictly require regular pruning. You can get the full story on pruning here in our four part pruning series. If you are in doubt about whether or not you should prune your plant, err on the side of caution and do not prune it. Please contact us with your pruning questions for specific pruning advice.

Here you’ll find any special soil requirements to consider before planting. Most of our varieties are not terribly finicky about soil, though the majority of plants do require well-drained soil.

This section notes any special care the variety requires. In most cases, you’ll find fertilizing recommendations here. Fertilizing is not strictly necessary in most cases – but if you wish to fertilize, this will tell you the best time to do it. The best fertilizer to use for flowering shrubs is a granular fertilizer formulated for woody plants, like a rose fertilizer. Measure it out according to package directions, and apply it around the perimeter of your plants rather than close to the main stem.

This section lists some common landscape uses for the plant, based on its habit (height, width, and whether it is upright, rounded, creeping, etc.). These are just suggestions; plants are versatile and can be used just about any way that you can dream up. Don’t feel bound by what you see here if you had a different use in mind.

Deer Resistance:
We rank a plant’s deer resistance on a scale of low, medium, or high. This assessment is based on Rutgers University’s website, compiled from research and reports at multiple universities around the country. Here’s a closer look at how we qualify these ratings:

  • Low: deer favor these plants, and their damage may disfigure the plant substantially. In some cases, low deer resistance may also mean that deer specifically eat the flower buds of the plant, depriving you of one of the key benefits of growing it. If deer visit your garden, plan on protecting any plant that are ranked “low” on our scale.
  • Medium: deer may browse these plants occasionally or lightly. Any damage that they cause will typically be easy for the plant to recover from, though it may limit growth somewhat. It would be a good idea to protect these plants with a repellent, netting, or fence if you live in an area with high deer activity.
  • High: deer rarely, if ever, browse these plants, so they can be grown in the open, without protection. Be aware that no plant is deer-proof, however, and if other food sources become scarce, deer may eat even their least-favorite plants.

Planting instructions
We recommend that our flowering shrubs be planted in the way described in this part of the tag. You can read an extended tutorial on planting here (, or watch our video here. We do not recommend adding anything to the soil at planting time, which can interfere with drainage and delay a plant getting established in the landscape.

Shrub Care Library
Over the years, we’ve posted lots of articles on caring for shrubs and dealing with landscaping challenges. Here’s a round up of some pages that you might find helpful:Watering your plants (new article forthcoming)


Learn more:

How to Read A Plant Tag video with Laura from Garden Answer

Back to Top

Find plants you love and create idea boards for all your projects.

To create an idea board, sign in or create an account.