5 Easy Shrubs To Care For In Nebraska

Rated 4.8 Across 700+ Reviews



Nebraska's climate presents unique challenges for gardeners, with its hot summers, cold winters, and varying soil conditions. These challenging conditions often discourage many gardeners from branching out in their plant selections, but there are plenty of beautiful, hardy shrubs that thrive in the Cornhusker State. These five shrubs are known for their low-maintenance nature, resilience, and aesthetic appeal, making them perfect additions to any Nebraska landscape! 

Be sure to check out what Summit Lawns can do for your shrubbery and gardens in Nebraska after reading! 

Barberry

The barberry shrub adds color and life to any Nebraska landscape. This hardy shrub thrives in a variety of conditions, including poor soils and harsh climates, making it a favorite among gardeners seeking low-maintenance beauty. Barberry's eye-catching features range from delicate spring flowers to showy fall foliage, often complemented by vibrant red berries that persist into winter. Its defining characteristic is its thorny branches, which create a natural barrier and deter unwanted visitors. 

Maintenance Tips For Barberry

  • Pruning for Shape and Control: Barberry responds well to pruning and can be shaped into hedges, topiaries, or allowed to grow naturally. Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges.
  • Thorny Considerations: Wear thick gloves and long sleeves when pruning due to the sharp thorns.
  • Pest and Disease Vigilance: Barberry is generally pest and disease-resistant but can be susceptible to insects and fungal diseases. Monitor for signs of infestation and treat as needed.
  • Sun Exposure for Optimal Color: While barberry tolerates partial shade, full sun exposure intensifies the vibrant colors of its foliage and berries.
  • Deer Resistance: Barberry is a deer-resistant shrub, making it a good choice for areas frequented by these animals.

Juniper

Juniper shrubs, celebrated for their evergreen foliage and aromatic fragrance, are a versatile addition to gardens and landscapes. Native to various regions across the Northern Hemisphere, these hardy conifers boast an array of forms, from low-growing groundcovers to tall, columnar varieties. Their needle-like leaves, often in shades of green, blue, or gold, provide year-round interest, while their berry-like cones offer a source of food for birds. Juniper's adaptability to diverse soil conditions and climates, coupled with its resistance to pests and diseases, makes it a low-maintenance choice for both novice and experienced gardeners.

Maintenance Tips For Juniper

  • Sun: Junipers thrive in full sun and may become leggy or lose their shape in shady conditions. Ensure they receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Pruning with Precision: Junipers should be pruned sparingly, as they don't readily generate new growth from old wood. Prune in early spring to maintain shape and remove dead or diseased branches.
  • Root Rot Prevention: Junipers prefer well-draining soil and can suffer from root rot in overly wet conditions. Avoid overwatering and ensure proper drainage.
  • Winter Protection: In regions with harsh winters, protect young or newly planted junipers from drying winds and sunscald by wrapping them in burlap or placing a barrier around them.
  • Needle Cast Awareness: Some juniper varieties are susceptible to fungal diseases like needle cast, which cause needles to brown and drop. Apply fungicides as a preventative measure in early spring.

Boxwood

Boxwood shrubs are a mainstay of formal gardens and landscapes. These evergreen shrubs are prized for their dense, glossy foliage, which can be meticulously sculpted into intricate shapes or left to grow naturally. Their adaptability to various climates and soil types, coupled with their tolerance for shade, makes them a popular choice for hedges, borders, and topiaries. Boxwoods come in a variety of sizes and shapes, from dwarf varieties suitable for containers to larger specimens that can reach several feet in height. While generally low-maintenance, boxwoods require specific care to maintain their health and aesthetic appeal, including protection from winter burn, regular fertilization, and vigilance against pests and diseases.

Maintenance Steps For Boxwood

  • Boxwood Blight Awareness: This fungal disease can cause defoliation and dieback. Avoid overhead watering, prune infected branches, and consider using fungicides as a preventive measure.
  • Pruning for Shape and Density: Boxwoods respond well to pruning and can be shaped into various forms. Prune in early spring or late summer to maintain desired shape and encourage dense growth.
  • Fertilization for Optimal Growth: Boxwoods benefit from regular fertilization, especially in spring and early summer. Use a balanced fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.
  • Root Protection: Boxwoods have shallow roots that can be damaged by cultivation or foot traffic. Apply a layer of mulch to protect roots and conserve moisture.
  • Watering Wisely: Boxwoods prefer moist but well-draining soil. Water deeply and less frequently to encourage strong root growth and prevent root rot.

Dogwood

Dogwood shrubs are prized for their striking winter color and adaptability to Nebraska's climate, and they are a popular addition to many landscapes in the state. While not all dogwood species thrive in this region, several varieties, like Redosier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) and Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), are particularly well-suited. These hardy shrubs offer vibrant red or yellow stems that brighten the winter landscape, while their summer foliage provides a lush green backdrop. Dogwoods also produce small white flowers in spring, followed by berries that attract birds and wildlife. Their tolerance for varying soil conditions and moisture levels make them a versatile choice for both naturalized and cultivated landscapes. While generally low-maintenance, dogwoods benefit from specific care to ensure optimal growth and vibrant color.

Maintenance Steps For Dogwood

  • Pruning for Color: To maximize the vibrant color of the stems, prune dogwood shrubs in late winter or early spring. This encourages new growth, which displays the brightest hues.
  • Stem Renewal: Dogwood stems tend to fade in color as they age. Prune out older stems to promote new growth and maintain vibrant color.
  • Moisture Management: While dogwoods tolerate a range of moisture levels, they thrive in moist, well-draining soil. Water regularly during dry spells, especially for young plants.
  • Disease Vigilance: Dogwoods can be susceptible to fungal diseases, particularly in humid conditions. Monitor for signs of leaf spot or powdery mildew and treat with fungicides if necessary.
  • Pest Protection: Dogwoods can be susceptible to borers and scale insects. Monitor for signs of infestation and treat with appropriate insecticides or horticultural oil.

Ninebark

Ninebark is a popular Midwest shrub that is an excellent choice for Nebraska gardens due to its adaptability and resilience. It thrives in the state's diverse climate, tolerating both hot summers and cold winters. Ninebark's versatility extends to its soil preferences, as it performs well in a range of conditions, including clay, loam, and sandy soils. It's relatively drought-tolerant once established, making it a water-wise choice for Nebraska landscapes. Beyond its practicality, ninebark offers stunning ornamental value. Its foliage comes in various colors, from deep green to vibrant gold, and some cultivars boast striking purple or burgundy leaves. In spring, clusters of delicate white or pink flowers emerge, adding to its visual appeal. As the name suggests, ninebark also features exfoliating bark, which peels away to reveal layers of contrasting colors well into winter.

Maintenance Steps For Ninebark

  • Renewal Pruning: Older ninebark shrubs can benefit from renewal pruning, which involves removing a third of the oldest stems at ground level each year for three years. This encourages vigorous new growth and maintains the plant's shape and vitality.
  • Powdery Mildew Prevention: Ninebark can be susceptible to powdery mildew, especially in humid conditions. Ensure good air circulation around the plant and avoid overhead watering. Consider applying fungicides as a preventive measure.
  • Foliage Color Enhancement: For ninebark cultivars with colorful foliage, ensure adequate sunlight to maintain vibrant hues. Some varieties may require more sun than others.
  • Pest Monitoring: Ninebark can attract aphids and spider mites. Monitor for signs of infestation and treat with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil if necessary.
  • Managing Suckers: Ninebark can produce suckers, which are new shoots emerging from the base of the plant. Remove suckers regularly to maintain a tidy appearance and prevent unwanted spread.