Shade Shrubs and Shade Trees for Shady Landscapes


Shade shrubs and shade trees are essential when you have a shady landscape to fill. There are many shade loving shrubs and trees that will bring your landscape to life. Shade loving plants usually have a particular degree of shade that they will perform their best in. There are varying degrees of shade that will need to be explained first, then followed by a list of plants for each shade grouping. This is not an absolute list, but a list of proven varieties of shrubs for shade and trees for shade, worthy of being listed.

"Shade Trees"

Shady landscapes require shade tolerant trees and shrubs

Degrees of shade exists in nature. Factors that affect shade patterns include the presence or absence of leaves on deciduous trees and the sun’s position in the sky at various times of the year. You should determine how much light and shade your property receives by observing each area at different times of the day throughout the year. You can even write the information down in a notebook to keep accurate information available.

Degrees of Shade

Deep or full shade: Gets 0-3 hours of direct sun. The floor of a deep shaded area usually has little to nothing growing beneath the trees.

Partial shade: Gets 2-6 hours of direct sunlight. Most plants that grow in partial shade prefer gentle morning sunlight. The hot, intense sunlight of afternoons can scorch shade-loving plants.

"Shade Shrubs"

Catawba Rhododendron loves full shade

Dappled or light shade: May be this way throughout the whole day. This type of partial shade occurs under open trees that create a moving pattern of light and shade on the ground. This type of shade is ideal for many plants. Such plants as dogwood, witch hazel, and spicebush thrive in these conditions and seem to bring the gap between sunny open areas and woods.

*Tip- Find the above degree of shade that you have in the area that you are wanting to plant a tree or shrub and then choose from the list of varieties in each category of shade.

Shrubs for and Trees for Full Shade

  • Variegated five-leaf aralia, Eleutherococcus sieboldianus “Variegatus’
  • Japanese holly, Ilex crenata
  • Mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia
  • Leucothoe, Leucothoe species
  • Rosebay rhododendron, Rhododendrum catawbiense
  • Catawba rhododendron, Rhododendrum catawbiense
  • Fragrant sarcococca, Sarcococca hookeriana var. Humilis
  • Hemlock, Tsuga species
  • Low-bush blueberry, Vaccinium angustisfolium
  • Maple-leaf viburnum, Viburnum averifolium
  • Wayfaring tree, Viburnum alnifolium
  • Yellowroot, Xanthorhiza simplicissima

Partial Shade Trees and Shrubs

  • Japanese maple, Acer palmatum
  • Serviceberry, Amelachier species
  • Sweet azalea, azalea arborescens
  • Boxwood, Buxus species
  • Redbud, Cercis canadensis
  • Hinoki false cypress, Chamaeyparis obtusa
  • Fothergilla, Fothergilla species
  • Smooth hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens
  • Sweet bay, Magnolia virginiana
  • Firethorn, Pyracantha coccinea
  • Korean rhododendron, Rhododendron mucronulatum
  • Royal azalea, Rhododendron schlippenbachii

Dappled or Light Shade Shrubs and Trees

  • Red chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia
  • Summersweet, Clethra alnifolia
  • Dogwood, Cornus species
  • Enkianthus, Enkianthus species
  • Witch hazel, Hamamelis species
  • Inkberry, Ilex glabra
  • American holly, Ilex opaca
  • Spicebush, Lindera benzoin
  • Mahonia, Mahonia species
  • Andromeda, Pieris species
  • Yew, Taxus species
  • Arbovitae, Thuja species

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