10 BEST Dwarf Shrubs for Wisconsin (2023 Guide)

What are the best dwarf shrubs for Wisconsin?

Finding the best dwarf shrubs for Wisconsin was not as easy as I thought. Some require lots of care, others don’t survive extreme weather, and lots are just not easy & quick enough to grow.

That’s why I created a list of the 10 Best Dwarf Shrubs for Wisconsin!

This ultimate guide will give you the best dwarf shrubs to plant, why you should grow them, and even how to plant them.

Read THIS Before Growing Dwarf Shrubs in Wisconsin

Knowing what hardiness zone Wisconsin is in is critical to understanding the best dwarf shrubs that can be grown.

It can be the difference between your dwarf shrub thriving and growing or becoming stunted and even die.

Wisconsin is mostly considered Hardiness Zone 5, while some of the lower-level regions are Hardiness Zone 6. You can find your specific hardiness zone HERE.

hardiness zone map

10 Best Dwarf Shrubs to Plant in Wisconsin

#1. Hydrangeas

hydrangea shrub

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Popular Varieties: Limelight, Quick Fire, Pinky Winky, Panicle

Why Grow Hydrangeas in Wisconsin?



  • If you have large spaces in your yard that you need to fill then grow hydrangeas. This dwarf shrub is an incredibly fast growing plant that can quickly gain 3-4 feet in width and height in a matter of just a few years.


  • The hydrangea dwarf shrub is one of the best plants to add as a border to your yard or garden. In addition, it can serve as a great focal point in flower beds too.

Beautiful Colors:

  • If you want to add color in both the summer and the fall then grow hydrangeas. Expect beautiful shades of pink, blue, white, light green, and red throughout the summer and even early fall.

THESE Could Harm Your Hydrangea Shrubs


  • Hydrangea dwarf shrubs thrive in partial shade, moist-soil, and rainy climates. They can become stunted, have droopy leaves, not produce flowers, and even die if expose to long periods of extreme heat.


  • Like sunlight, hydrangeas can become stunted, not produce flowers, and have bleached flowers if exposed to more than partial sunlight. It is best to plant this dwarf shrub in an area of your year that receives only sun for half the day.

Additional Resources

One of the best ways to help your hydrangea grow and have beautiful blooms for years is to apply fertilizer. But applying fertilizer is tricker than it seems. Check out this article to learn about the BEST fertilizers for your specific hydrangea.

#2. Azaleas

Azalea shrub

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Popular Varieties: Rosy Light, Coastal, Sweet, Western

Why Grow Azaleas in Wisconsin?



  • The problem with growing flowers plants is that pests like deer and rabbits like to eat them. Fortunately, Azaleas are pest-resistant. Unless desperate, deer and rabbit will not eat or destroy this dwarf shrub.

Beautiful Colors:

  • Like hydrangeas, Azaleas produce beautiful flowers that bloom throughout spring, summer, and sometimes even fall. The colors can add lovely shades of white, yellow, pink, and even orange!

THESE Could Harm Your Azalea Shrubs


  • Azaleas do not handle weather as well as some of the other dwarf shrubs on this list. One weather element that can affect the growth and appearance of your azalea is wind. Plant your dwarf shrub in an area of your yard or garden that will be protected from wind and long periods of drought.

Extreme Cold

  • Azaleas require the perfect conditions to grow and thrive. Do not plant these dwarf shrubs if you get long periods of extreme cold. If you do get periods of cold in the single digits or sub-zero then you should wrap your dwarf shrub in burlap.

Additional Resources

For the best success in growing Azaleas you should plant them in an area of your yard that is protected against wind, full-sun, long periods of drought, and extremely wet soil.

#3. Spirea

spirea shrub

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Popular Varieties: Korean, Birchleaf, Bridal Wreath

Why Grow Spirea in Wisconsin?


Perfect for Small Spaces & Large Spaces:

  • Very few dwarf shrubs on this list can be grown in both small spaces and large spaces. The Spirea bush comes in many varieties and can be the perfect plant to grow in areas of 2 feet or less, or large areas of up to 10 feet.

Spring Color:

  • Most of the dwarf shrubs on this list produce colors during mid-summer to mid-fall. The spirea is a great dwarf shrub for anyone wants to add beautiful colors and accents to your yard and garden in the spring.


  • The Spirea dwarf shrub is the lowest-maintenance plant on this list. It doesn’t require deadheading, is not prone to insect infestations or diseases, and requires very little water, and can survive heat and full-sun.

THESE Could Harm Your Spirea Shrubs


  • Most dwarf shrubs on this list are hardy against disease and insects. Spirea bushes though can fall victim to aphids and mites, especially when they are young or sick.

Additional Resources

Spirea blooms are the longest-lasting blooms on this list. The versatility of this dwarf shrub makes it the most popular dwarf shrub too. It is perfect as a perennial border, groundcover, and hedges.

#4. Viburnums

Viburnum shrub

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Popular Varieties: Davidil, Opulus, Fordiae, Tinus

Why Grow Viburnum Shrubs in Wisconsin?



  • Viburnum Dwarf Shrubs are the hardiest dwarf shrubs on this list. They are incredibly hardy making them easy to care for. You can plant them almost anywhere, you don’t need to worry about watering them all the time, and can survive almost all types of weather.


  • Not only are Viburnums hardy against weather, but they are pest-hardy too. No matter where you live there are little to no pests that will harm your dwarf shrubs.

All-Year Color:

  • Viburnum dwarf shrubs are also the only dwarf shrub on the list that provides beautiful colors all year. During spring and summer, the dwarf shrub has beautiful flowers that bloom and in the fall and even early winter it grows fruit that will provide lovely colors when all other plants won’t.

THESE Could Harm Your Viburnums

Old Age:

  • When it comes to Viburnum dwarf shrubs there is very few if any things that can harm your dwarf shrubs. Old age is typically the only thing you have to worry about. When your viburnum dwarf shrubs get older it is best to dig it up and dispose of it.

Additional Resources

Viburnum dwarf shrubs not only offer beautiful colors and are hardy, but are perfect for privacy, small spaces, and almost anywhere else you can think about in your yard.

#5. Butterfly Bush

butterfly bush

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Popular Varieties: Fountain, Globosa, Lochinch, Saligna

Why Grow Butterfly Bushes in Wisconsin?

butterfly bush

Attract Pollinators:

Out of all the dwarf shrubs on this list, the butterfly bush is the best at attracting pollinators. Not only will it attract butterflies, but bees and even hummingbirds will visit it throughout the summer.

Related: 50 Useful Plants that Attract Pollinators

Beautiful Colors & Scent:

  • While other dwarf shrubs provide beautiful colors they rarely provide amazing scents. The butterfly bush does both. Expecet beautiful colors of pink, white, and red, while having amazing smells fill your yard and garden.

THESE Could Harm Your Butterfly Bushes


  • Most of the dwarf shrubs on this list rarely can become harmed by humans. The butterfly bush though can become harmed when humans don’t prune or care for it and more times than not over prune it!


  • Butterfly bushes are some of the least hardy dwarf shrubs on this list. They can become prone to disease in their early years, need to be covered if exposed to long periods of cold or wind, and often become victims to pests.

Additional Resources

While butterfly bushes are beautiful to grow it should be noted that you will attract a lot of pollinators. Because pollinators will become addicted to the nectar and will not visit other native plants make sure to provide them with housing and water too!

#6. Alberta Spruce

alberta spruce

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Popular Varieties: Alberta, White, Engelmann

Why Grow Alberta Spruce Shrubs in Wisconsin?

dwarf alberta spruce


  • If you want a fast-growing shrub then plant Alberta Spruce. This shrub is not only fast-growing but incredibly easy to grow. Just plant it and watch it spread like a weed!

Beautiful Color:

  • When gardeners think of shrubs they think of boring plants. Not the Alberta spruce Expect beautiful colors of green throughout the year.

THESE Could Harm Your Alberta Spruce Bush

Too Much Water:

  • Most Shrubs are incredibly hardy. But the Alberta Spruce can become harmed and sometimes even die if it has too much water and develops root rot.

Additional Resources

Did you know the Alberta Spruce can be grow as a dwarf shrub, landscaping plant, or even a border plant.

#7. Holly

Holly Bush

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Popular Varieties: Inkberry, Carolina, English, Japanese

Why Grow Holly in Wisconsin?

holly bush


  • Plant it and forget about it should be its motto of Holly. Holly dwarf shrubs are some of the most low-maintenance plants on this list making it perfect for busy gardeners no matter where you live.

Foundational Plant:

  • Holly is a fantastic dwarf shrub to be planted for homeowners and property owners. It is the perfect dwarf shrub for foundations, garden beds, raised garden beds, and even borders.

THESE Could Harm Your Holly

Garden Pests

  • Holly is another dwarf shrub that deer like. Actually, they love it. Make sure to fence in your holly bush or apply a deer spray to keep them away from your dwarf shrub when it begins growing.

Additional Resources

If you want to grow a dwarf shrub that is also useful then look no further than Holly! Many types of Holly can be harvested during the winter for holiday and Christmas decorations!

#8. Lilac Bush

lilac bush

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Popular Varieties: Common, Persian, Chinese

Why Grow Lilac Bushes in Wisconsin?

lilac bush


  • Out of every tree on this list, the Lilac Bush is the best ornamental dwarf shrub. It has beautiful shades of purple and pink, even in the fall.

Great for Large Spaces:

  • Lilac bushes can grow wide and wall. Most gardeners can’t actually tell the difference between lilac bushes and trees! Not only this, but you’ll love the smell that it will add to your yard.

THESE Could Harm Your Lilac Bush


  • Like some bushes and a lot of trees Lilac Bushes are prone to insect attacks. While lilac bushes can die from numerous insect attacks the main ones you have to worry about is the Japanese Beetle, aphids, and mites.

Additional Resources

Lilac bushes are the best type of dwarf shrubs to plant in any condition, anywhere in your yard. They thrive in the sun, wet soil, compact or poor soil, cold weather, warm weather, etc.

#9. Boxwood


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Popular Varieties: Common, Small Leave, Korean, Japanese

Why Grow Boxwood in Wisconsin?

boxwood shrub

Perfect for Landscaping

  • Boxwood shrubs are the best type of dwarf shrub on the list for landscaping. Whether you are trying to add shapes and designs in your front yard or backyard this is the perfect plant!

Wildlife Habitat:

  • Some dwarf shrubs make good habitats for wildlife. There is no better habitat for wildlife than the boxwood bush. It is great for beneficial insects, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and sometimes even baby deer!

THESE Could Harm Your Boxwood


  • Boxwood bushes are incredibly hardy. Mother nature nor pests can harm it. Humans are the only thing that can harm it whether by over-pruning, overwatering, etc.

Additional Resources

Boxwood shrubs are one of the few shrubs or plants that are perfect in any landscape. What sets them apart is that they are deer and pest resistant.

#10. Juniper Bush

juniper bush

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Popular Varieties: California, Chinese, Common, Creeping

Why Grow Juniper in Wisconsin?

juniper bush


  • The Juniper bush is another amazing dwarf shrub to grow if you want a plant that is easy to grow and easy to maintain. This plant does great in heat and in cold weather climates.


  • Out of all the dwarf shrubs on this list the Juniper bush is the most inexpensive to buy. Because of this most gardeners and homeowners do mass plantings to set up foundations in their yards.

THESE Could Harm Your Juniper

Over Pruning:

Even though Juniper Dwarf Shrubs are incredibly hardy there is one item that can kill them. If you over prune your Juniper Dwarf Shrub it can turn brown, needles will wilt, and potentially even die.

Additional Resources

If you want to add and maintain color in the winter then grow Juniper Dwarf Shrubs. This plant is one of the few dwarf shrubs that keeps its colors constant throughout the entire year.

Common Growing Factors of Wisconsin’s Best Dwarf Shrubs


As a reminder, the below factors are common for the Best Dwarf Shrubs to Plant in Wisconsin:

  • Thrives in Heat & Cold
  • Can Grow in Any Soil and Conditions
  • Hardy against Pests, Insects, and Diseases
  • Have beautiful colors throughout the entire year
  • Fits in any space

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