While it can seem that all plants crave sunshine, there are quite a few options for the shadier areas of your garden. Here are some of the best shrubs that grow in full and partial shade.
Best shrubs to grow in shade: When looking for shade shrubs, be sure to check which ones prefer partial shade and which ones will survive in full shade. Hydrangeas and azaleas are good options for partial shade and they have gorgeous blooms. For full shade options, consider yews and andromedas.
Do shrubs grow well in shade?
There is a wide variety of shrubs and many of them do grow well in shade. However, you always want to check the plant before you purchase it in case it has other requirements.
As a general rule, if your shrub has flowers then it will either do much better in full sun or at least partial shade. Other times, however, your shrub may still flower but just won’t bloom as richly in full shade.
Soil should also be considered with shrubs that grow in shade. While some shrubs are fine with moister soil, many prefer soil that drains well, so you don’t want soil that is too wet.
What is full shade vs partial shade?
There are many terms to describe the conditions in which plants will grow. These range from full sun to full shade, and everything in between.
Full shade means just that: you shouldn’t expect any sun to reach the plants. Areas that are in full shade are usually in the corners of gardens or under very thick evergreen trees.
Partial shade may be another option for shrubs. In this case, the shrubs could have access to morning or afternoon sun, but be in the shade the rest of the time. They may also be underneath trees that are more open, which creates a dappled shade environment.
You should be aware of the different shade options throughout the year. For example, shadows will shorten during the summer so an area near a house may not be as shady as you thought it was.
15 Amazing Shrubs that Grow Well on Shade
With a wide selection of colors to choose from, azaleas are an instant hit to any garden that is in full or partial shade. The plant blooms in the spring but provides lush greenery the rest of the year.
Simply plant this shrub in moist soil that drains well. Once it is established, your azalea plant will last for decades. It will grow to be about 4 to 6 feet wide and tall.
A cousin to azaleas, rhododendrons are a larger option if you have a lot of space to fill. Again, they come in many colors and their large, open blooms will attract important pollinators.
Rhododendrons can grow up to 20 feet tall but if you don’t have the space you can prune them back. The plants will also grow for decades as long as the soil is well-draining but moist and a little acidic.
There is something almost magical about hydrangeas. Not only are their large blooms colorful but they last for a long time, even if you cut them. There are many varieties available and a wide range of colors.
Hydrangeas do prefer partial shade, so keep that in mind when planting. Also, they spread out somewhat quickly, so be sure to leave them enough space to grow.
Native to North America, this is a great option if you are going for a natural, woodland look. Mountain Laurel loves shade and its deep green foliage is punctuated by pale pink colors in the late spring.
You can find different varieties of Mountain Laurel, including dwarf options if you like the look but want a smaller option. Just make sure the soil you plant them in is acidic enough.
Carol Mackie Daphnie
A stunning flowering option for a shade shrub is the Carol Mackie daphne plant. It has gorgeous clumps of flowers that have a lovely scent to them.
The only consideration with this shrub is that it does not like soil that is overly acidic. You may need to add lime to neutralize the soil. Furthermore, while the plant will grow in full shade, the partial shade will enhance the blooms.
The dense foliage of this shrub makes it ideal for privacy screening and a natural barrier between neighbors. It can be trimmed easily if you want to maintain its shape.
Canadian hemlock does well in cooler climates but if you live further north, be sure to add a layer of bark mulch to insulate its roots over winter. It also does better in partial shade than in full shade.
This evergreen shrub produces bright red berries in the winter, which makes it a favorite around Christmas. It will provide bright green foliage year-round.
Yews are incredibly versatile and tough, so they can be planted almost anywhere, including partial shade or full shade. Just note that they are toxic, so are not the best option if you have small children or pets.
While this shrub likes the sun, it can still grow in partial shade, so shouldn’t be discounted. It is an evergreen shrub that produces fragrant flowers in the summer.
Aim for acidic soil for Andromeda plants that is moist but well-drained. Also, note that the flowers won’t be as large in full shade.
Although its berries are ornamental, you can still enjoy the beauty of this shrub. Alpine currant is native to Europe and prefers cooler climates.
It is a great option for borders or hedges and the green-yellow flowers and red berries offer a pop of color. Plant in partial shade and note you will need both male and female plants if you want the shrub to produce berries.
Another brightly colored shrub, camellias produce flowers either in the spring or fall, depending on their variety. They are easy to maintain and enjoy the partial shade.
Camellia shrubs can actually be used to make tea if you harvest their leaves and twigs. The shrub grows slowly so you don’t need to worry about a lot of space for it.
This shrub is perfect for ground cover and loves damp and shady areas. It is a relative of the dogwood tree, which is evident in its white flowers.
If you have a space where other plants struggle to survive, the Canadian Bunchberry is an excellent option. It prefers acidic soil and doesn’t mind if its roots stay damp.
Also known as Chinese witch hazel, this shrub produces vibrant magenta-colored flowers in early spring. The shrub will spread out and can get over 10 feet tall.
Chinese fringe flower prefers moist soil and partial shade. If need be, add mulch around the shrub to retain moisture in the soil.
Boxwood has long been a favorite shrub and for good reason. It is easily shaped, provides year-round greenery, and you can find different varieties for different sizes.
Boxwoods are especially good for creating boundaries and even when spaced out, the plants will quickly grow together to look like a continual plant. Partial shade is ideal for this shrub.
With unique, weeping flowers, this shrub can be used in borders and hedges. The white flowers bloom in the summer and the plant prefers partial or full shade.
Coast Leucothoe likes acidic soil. To help the shrub out, add a foot of peat moss to your soil to increase the acidity.
Red Tip Photinia
Even though this is an evergreen shrub, any new growth starts out red, hence the name. You will also see tiny clumps of white flowers that add a lot of depth to this shrub.
Red tip photinia can grow to be at least 10 feet tall and there are even larger options. It prefers partial shade and soil that is well-drained and sandy.
What is the best bush to plant in shade?
If you want flowers on your shade bush, there are plenty of options. Rhododendrons and azaleas are classic examples although they do better in partial shade than full shade.
You can also look for hydrangeas, which again prefer partial shade. Camelias are another lovely bush and the bright pink flowers will surely brighten any day.
An alternative to flowering bushes is the alpine currant shrub. It has lovely red berries that provide that color you may be looking for.
What is the best evergreen for shade?
Boxwood is a wonderful, all-purpose evergreen shrub for shade. It is easy to maintain and can be used as a border or as a hedge.
Another good option is a yew shrub. This shrub has bright green foliage that remains all year long and as a bonus, produces bright red berries in the winter.
There are many amazing varieties of shrubs that grow in shade. Some are evergreen while others produce flowers. Just be sure to pay attention to the difference between partial and full shade before planting.