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15 Beautiful Yellow Flowering Shrubs to Spark Joy

Beautiful Yellow Flowering Shrubs

Yellow is bold, beautiful, and whimsical. The colour of the sun, the colour of warmth, the colour of gold, the colour of newborn baby ducklings, the colour of sweet golden honey and fresh zesty lemons. Yellow is an emotive colour, a stimulating colour, and an intellectual colour. Who wouldn’t want to introduce some fabulous bright yellow flowers to their garden?

Of course, you could opt for a sky-high sunflower or a delicate daffodil. But have you thought about yellow flowering shrubs? Low-maintenance, long-lasting, big or small, winter or summer-blooming, there’s a perfect yellow flowering shrub for every garden. 

So say ‘Yello’ to our top picks of the most beautiful yellow flowering shrubs that are sure to invite warmth, positivity, and sunshine into your garden. 

The History and Meaning of Yellow

The History and Meaning of Yellow

The colour yellow has a rich and elaborate history. It is one of the oldest colours to have been used in art and dyes, because of the wide availability of ochre, from which yellow pigment could be extracted. Prehistoric artwork in the Lascaux cave in France used yellow ochre to create a painting of a horse, which dates back around 17,000 years ago. 

It is the colour which is most noticeable to the human eye, being both the lightest and brightest colour on the spectrum. For this reason, it is often used to draw attention to potential hazards, or to objects which need to be spotted easily, such as school buses, high visibility jackets, or taxi cabs.

Yellow is perhaps one of the most emotive colours, both positive and negative, representing a multiplicity of vastly different symbolisms across many countries and cultures. Yellow is the colour of the sun, a universal symbol of positivity and light. Many religions, ancient and modern, are centred around the worship of the sun, and thus yellow is often thought of as a somewhat sacred colour.

The ancient Egyptians used yellow ochre pigments to depict their gods and goddesses, because of its resemblance to gold ore. Even today, amongst many African communities, only the most respected people are permitted to wear yellow because of its golden associations with power, wealth, and success. 

In China, the colour yellow is associated with imperial power and prosperity and was traditionally reserved for only the Emperors and their families to wear. It is also considered a lucky colour in both Chinese and Thai culture. In Japanese tradition, yellow represents both wealth and bravery, whilst in some Middle Eastern and Latin American communities, yellow is a colour used for mourning.

In Buddhism, yellow is an important colour which represents humility, and a disregard for shallow materialism, one of the key tenets of the religion.

The colour yellow has a complex history within Christianity. Early Catholicism often associated the Pope with yellow as a symbol of His piety and is featured on the Papal flag of the Vatican. Conversely, yellow is also associated with the heretic traitor Judas Iscariot.

It is perhaps this association with Judas that led to an increased interpretation amongst medieval European cultures as yellow being a signifier of jealousy, cowardice, deceit or treason. During the 10th Century in France, the houses of criminals had their doors painted bright yellow to signify that the occupier was not to be trusted. 

More recently, however, the colour yellow has come to represent some altogether more positive traits. It is seen as a playful, whimsical colour in many Western cultures and is often used to signify spontaneity, youthfulness, enthusiasm, radiance, and optimism. It is said to invoke feelings of happiness more than any other colour.

Yellow belongs to the ‘warm’ group of colours and often invokes warm emotions. Intellectually, yellow is believed to increase inquisitiveness, promote analytical thought and encourage logic in problem-solving activities, although prolonged exposure to the bright yellows can cause irritability, and even anger, in part due to the bold nature of the hue. 

Yellow in Garden Design 

Yellow in Garden Design 

In the garden, yellow flowers stand out the most, instantly drawing the eye of onlookers and becoming the natural centrepieces of a busy border with their attention-demanding hues. Yellow flowers bring a sense of warmth, optimism, and playfulness, so are often used in informal and cottage garden designs.

Bright yellow is an energetic colour, which can actually help to increase movement and even metabolism, making yellow flowers ideal for a busy garden. Conversely, pastel-hued yellows are known to have calming, peaceful influences, meaning pale-toned yellow flowers are the perfect additions to a relaxing zen garden. Yellow also reflects light, meaning yellow flowers can lift the garden even on the bleakest of days by emanating their natural, warm glow. 

Yellow is indeed a bold colour, and whole borders of block-yellow flowers may be too harsh for some. But by introducing a range of flowers with different tones of yellow, or interspersing them with other colours such as whites, blues, or purples, yellow flowers can create a truly breathtaking floral display. 

Aside from their inherent aesthetic value, yellow flowers are also ecologically important, particularly in wildlife gardens. Pollinators and other beneficial insects are enticed by vivid yellow tones, and will happily visit your garden, again and again, to feast on the precious nectar held within yellow petals. 

15 of the Best Yellow Flowering Shrubs

15 of the best yellow flowering shrubs 

There are so many beautiful classic yellow flowers to choose from, perennials or annuals, ornamental or wild, grown from a bulb or seed. But there is also a diverse selection of yellow-flowering shrubs to choose from too! Shrubs tend to be more robust than annual or perennial flowers, many are evergreen, offering year-round interest, and most of them are very low-maintenance. Planting a variety of different shrubs which flower at different times of the year means there will always be a splash of sunshine in your garden, even if the sun is itself shrouded in dreary grey clouds on a cold winter’s day. 

  1. Azaleas are a group of flowering shrubs belonging to the Rhododendron genus. Although they are available in a range of beautiful colours, if it’s sunshine you’re after, look no further than the dazzling Pontic Azalea (Rhododendron luteum). Displaying large, ornate, spherical blooms, Azalea flowers really are reminiscent of the shining sun on a hot summer’s day. Not only will they brighten your garden with their bright yellow flowers, but they will also awaken your senses with their sweet, floral fragrance. Flowering from late spring through to early summer, this deciduous shrub can reach maximum heights of around five feet tall. Golden Oriole is another yellow azalea, although this variety boasts richer, more golden-toned blooms and makes for a slightly more elegant option with its delicate petals. Golden oriole can reach maximum heights of around six feet. Azaleas do best in full sun to part shade positions and need moist, well-draining, and acidic soil. 
  2. Bush Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) is actually related to roses, although you could be forgiven for mistaking its, wide-open, butter-yellow flowers for a buttercup. This prolific bloomer produces an abundance of pretty, five-petalled flowers, often obscuring its foliage entirely. It is also an exceptionally long blooming shrub, with flowers that endure from mid-spring through to early autumn given the right conditions. It has a compact growth habit, rarely exceeding three or four feet in height, and plenty of dense, lush green foliage. Potentilla is a fabulously low-maintenance shrub, tolerating a variety of soil and light conditions, and needs almost no pruning to deliver maximum blooms at minimum effort. 
  3. Camellias are a firm favourite among shrub lovers and are available in a whole rainbow spectrum of colours. If you’re looking for a muted yellow-toned shrub to induce a sense of relaxing calm in your garden, look no further than the Camellia Japonica ‘Brushfields yellow’. Its intricate anemone-form flowers and glossy green foliage radiate sophistication, elegance, and opulence. This Camellia cultivar likes a dappled shade position in the garden, with well-drained, neutral to acidic soil. Flowering from late winter and into spring, regular deadheading will promote an abundance of blooms to brighten up a bleak winter garden. 
  4. Cotton Lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus) despite what the name suggests, isn’t a shade of purple at all. Instead, its flowers are a bright, sunny yellow colour. Sitting proudly atop tall, spiky, stems, the pom-pom-like flowers resemble a sea of miniature suns! This dwarf shrub rarely exceeds half a meter tall or a meter wide, so works perfectly in smaller gardens or even in containers. Its aromatic evergreen silvery-grey foliage makes for an interesting display all year round, even after its summer blooming period has ended. Although relatively low maintenance and tolerant of a range of soil types, Cotton Lavender does best in a full sun position. 
  5. Forsythia is probably the quintessential yellow flowering shrub, setting gardens ablaze with its rich, fiery yellow blossoms all throughout the springtime. It offers densely packed blooms arranged tightly around its tall, upright stems. This colossal shrub can reach heights of ten feet tall and can spread just as wide, although there are a variety of dwarf versions available too. In fact, with a total of eleven different yellow flowering varieties, there is a Forsythia for everyone. It’s also a great addition to a wildlife garden, with its early blooms providing much-needed sustenance for weary pollinators emerging for a harsh winter. Position yours somewhere with plenty of sunlight and fertile, well-draining soil. 
  6. Honeysuckles are famed for their exotic-looking, ethereal flowers which are available in a wide range of stunning colours and growth habits. If you’d like to introduce a yellow flowering shrubby honeysuckle to your garden, the Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) is sure to enchant you with its golden blooms and irresistibly sweet scent throughout summer. Its tubular flowers are an excellent food source for moths, butterflies and bees alike. After the flowering period, its glossy foliage will continue to delight you as it transforms from rich greens to deep yellows and burnt oranges. This compact honeysuckle rarely exceeds one meter in height, requires minimal pruning, will grow in a range of soil types and is even drought resistant once established, making it a fabulously low-maintenance option.   
  7. Japanese Rose, (Kerria Japonica) is a member of the Rosacea family, although it belongs to a genus all of its own. Hailing from mountainous regions of South East Asia, this shrub offers rounded bauble-like bright yellow double flowers usually throughout spring, although there is the possibility of a second flowering period in summer. Its upright, creeping growth habit is ideal for covering unsightly walls and fences, or for training up trellises, often reaching four meters in height. This hardy shrub can tolerate almost every soil type and will produce an abundance of blooms whether in full sun or heavy shade.  Yellow Flowering Shrubs
  8. Lydian Broom (Genista Lydia) is a delightful dwarf shrub which certainly makes up for its lack of size with its sheer abundance of tiny yellow flowers. In fact, it blooms so prolifically that its soft, green foliage is almost completely obscured by flowers. So long as it’s planted in a full sun position, this hardy shrub pretty much thrives on neglect. It is drought-tolerant once matured, requires little pruning with its neat, naturally mounded growth habit, and is small enough that it can be happily contained in pots or window boxes. 
  9. Mahonia is a genus of around 70 species of tough, woody, evergreen shrubs. Most of the 70 species produce gorgeous golden blooms all throughout winter and well into late spring, making it the perfect remedy for dark winter days. Its flowers are a vital food source for pollinators during the winter months when food is scarce. In autumn, Mahonia also offers delicate and decorative black-blue berries, although they are best left on the shrub since they are highly acidic and can cause stomach irritation if eaten raw. Easily reaching a towering ten feet in height, and with a spread of around half that, these shrubs are best suited to larger gardens. Robust and hardy, Mahonia prefers a position with partial shade, and moist, well-draining soil, although they can tolerate periods of drought.  
  10. Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is famed for its subtle, sweet scent and almost neon-hued yellow flowers. Blooming in spring, the petite flowers of this deciduous shrub attract plenty of birds who feed on its berries and foliage. Native to North America, the Northern Spicebush is a large, tree-like shrub which can grow to over twelve feet tall, and requires minimal pruning. Position your Spicebush somewhere with full to partial sun, and moderately moist but well-draining soil. 
  11. Roses are not only one of the most beloved shrubs of all, but also some of the most diverse. There is a rose in almost every colour of the rainbow, and of course, that includes yellow. From traditional climbing varieties like the Lady Banks rose, to ground-cover varieties like the Rosa ‘County of Staffordshire’, and even thornless varieties like Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’, there’s a rose in every shade of yellow and every growth habit imaginable. Of course, as one would imagine for such a huge genus, each species of rose will have its own individual needs and care requirements, so do some research on which yellow flowering rose will be best suited to your garden before purchasing. 
  12. If you’re looking for a multi-functional, practical, even medicinal yellow flowering shrub, then look no further than St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). It takes its name from St John the Baptist, whose celebration day on June 24th coincides with its summer blooming time. An honoured ingredient in many traditional and herbal medicinal practices, St Johns Wort is credited with alleviating a range of physical and mental ailments, from promoting wound healing to treating menstrual cramps, to relieving stress and depression. Its cheerful, five-petaled blossoms frame large clusters of protruding golden-toned stamens that sit proudly atop its upright stems. Rarely exceeding a meter in height, and with a moderate spread of around the same size, they are well suited to smaller spaces. St Johns Wort enjoys both full sun or partial shade conditions and is drought tolerant once mature. 
  13. Sunshine Ligustrum is a unique shrub in that its foliage, rather than its flowers, is the source of its yellow colouring. In fact, this shrub is sterile, producing no flowers at all. Instead, it offers a truly enchanting year-round display of dense, compact, golden yellow leaves which truly epitomise its sunny moniker. Growing to heights of around a meter and a half, and with an equally wide spread, this shrub is a popular choice for hedges. Sunshine Ligustrum does well in a range of soil types, and since it isn’t reliant on sunlight to bloom, can tolerate a range of light conditions from full sun to heavy shade. 
  14. Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is a simply stunning yellow flowering shrub. Its elegant, trailing stems are heavily adorned with an abundance of delicate yellow flowers from deepest winter right up to late spring. Winter Jasmine has a maximum height of around two and a half meters, and it is extremely cold hardy, down to around -10°C. This tough but beautiful shrub will tolerate almost every soil type and is happy in full sun to partial shade conditions. 
  15. Witch Hazel is a large, tree-like shrub which produces dense sprays of fragrant, deep-yellow-coloured blooms in winter. Its fiery hues are sure to bring a touch of sunshine to even the gloomiest of days. With a maximum height of around 20 feet, this shrub is best suited to larger gardens, although regular pruning can contain them to a much smaller size. Witch hazel needs regular watering, and prefers a bright, sunny position. 

Yellow flowering shrubs are sure to make a show-stopping centrepiece in any garden, radiating warmth, energy, and positivity. Their bright-coloured blooms will attract plenty of pollinators and their low-maintenance temperament coupled with their high-impact aesthetic is sure to fill your garden with light all year round.

There’s seldom a garden, or a gardener, on earth that couldn’t benefit from a splash of yellow!

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Emily Grice

Emily Grice

Em Grice is a content writer specialising in horticulture and botany who combines her respect for the natural world with her love for the written word. A regular contributor to a range of international publications and organisations, she is most at peace when pottering in her own little garden in the north of England

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