Top 17 Best Shrubs for Shade recommended by Garden Experts

Shade-loving shrubs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some are planted primarily for their foliage, while others may provide color and interest to a dreary nook in your yard.

Our garden experts recommended the top 17 shrubs for shady and partly shady areas of your yard. Some of them are:

  1. Rhododendrons
  2. Witch Hazel
  3. Cranberry
  4. Daphne
  5. Mountain Laurel

Read our article to find out more!

Noah James from Liberty Lawn Maintenance

Rhododendrons

These shade shrubs produce large flowers in clusters. They are evergreen attract early season pollinators.

Smooth Hydrangea

This shade-preferring shrub does well in the winter and has an open shape to it. They produce creamy white blooms in clusters.

Keep in mind that the flowers of smooth hydrangea are produced on new growth.

Witch Hazel

This shade shrub is quite stunning! It boasts winter flowers of yellow, rust, or red-colored blooms, and they are fragrant!

They are hardy in cold temperatures and are deciduous. These North American natives prefer moist soil.

Coralberry/Snowberry

These shrubs are more popularly known for their berries and flowers. They do pack a one-two punch!

They are hardy, deciduous shrubs and are native to North America. The snowberry has pink flowers, while the coralberry has white flowers.

Glossy Abelia

This is a semi-evergreen shade shrub that flowers best if it gets a touch of sun every day.

It produces clusters of tubular flowers that are white with a touch of pink. This shrub flowers on new growth.

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Slender Deutzia

These shade shrubs have long-lasting flowers that are white and bloom in the spring. Although they like shade, it’s best that it not be too dense.

Japanese Kerria

This shrub that loves the shade produces yellow flowers in the spring. They can grow in poor soil and are prolific bloomers.

How to care for shade shrubs

Shrubs that grow in the shade can have their soil dry out more slowly, so watering is almost always unnecessary as much as shrubs get full sun.

When you do water, it’s best to do so in the early morning. Check the soil first and if it feels like it needs watering, be sure to water thoroughly.

Water directly because any leaves that stay wet without proper air circulation and exposure to sunlight may be vulnerable to fungal disease.

Understanding what your shade shrubs need will give them the best chance of remaining healthy and beautifying your garden.

Jeremy Yamaguchi from Lawn Love

Oakleaf hydrangeas

They grow very well beneath natural oak hammocks. While they do well with a little bit of exposure to the sun in the morning, by the time the sun reaches its apex, the trees around them take the brunt of it, providing shade for this flowering shrub.

Hydrangeas are very low maintenance, requiring only about an inch of water a week during blooming season. When the plant isn’t producing flowers, it goes dormant mainly and doesn’t need much upkeep.

Do keep in mind, however, that most hydrangeas are poisonous to both dogs and cats, so if you have nosey pets who like to eat things they find outside, this may not be the shrub for you.

Ashley H from Mom Loves Home

Cranberry bush

Native to North America, these tall and seasonally downfalling shrubs can grow to heights over 40 feet.

Contrary to its moniker, the American Cranberry Bush does not bear the nutritious fruit and grows edible drupes that can be jammed.

These shrubs commonly grow in swampy woods and bogs as they require a lot of moisture.

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The American Cranberry bush requires evenly moist soil and occasional trims after its seasonal flowering to care for them properly.

These bushes can also thrive under full sunlight as well as partial shade.

American Holly

Under the right conditions, this large evergreen bush can grow to lengths of over 30 feet. The American Holly has gleaming dark green leaves with spiky edges and is commonly used as Christmas ornaments.

Between April and June, these large shrubs produce small leaves with a color combination of green and cyan and red berries that mature near October.

The American Holly thrives under full sunlight or partial shade and requires well-drained soil, although it can tolerate various soil and PH types.

Virginia Sweetspire

This semi-evergreen shrub reaches an average height of just 3 feet though they have been documented to be reaching heights as high as 8 feet in suitable conditions. Starting from early summers, this shrub produces fragrant white flowers that gradually turn red and purple.

Native to the Southeastern United States, this shrub can be found along the banks of rivers, creeks, and streams.

While the Virginia Sweetspire can survive in various soils, it prefers moist conditions and roughly 4 hours of light each day, similar to its native habitat.

Aya Bradley from The Golden

Camellia

Camellias are known for their gorgeous flowers when in bloom. With different petal colors and patterns, no wonder this plant is quite popular among gardeners.

Keeping the evergreen bloom of camellia requires a bit of work, though. Keep camellias away from direct sunlight to prevent scorching the flowers and leaves. Also, make sure that you water these plants regularly.

Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons are lush shrubs with woody stems and glossy green leaves. But their most prized characteristics might be their vibrant flowers. With over 1000 species, you can find them in almost any color.

Rhododendrons thrive in partial shade. Unlike other plants, you should not prune rhododendrons as much as possible. But if they get too wiry, prune them right after they bloom to get even better flowers the following year.

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Daphne

Daphnes are famous for their fragrant pink and white flowers in tiny bouquets. Daphnes care for a bit of the sun, but not too much!

Like all the other plants in this list, daphnes love moist soil and partial shade. So water daphnes regularly and keep them away from direct sunlight.

Ronnie Collins from Electro Garden Tools

‘Pink Charm’ Mountain Laurel

This plant is native to the eastern Mississippi forests. The bright pink or white flowers of the plant appear in spring and attract hummingbirds very well.

Another significant fact is that the leaves of this shrub are evergreen, and a single plant can cover up to 8’-10’. You can even grow it in light shade to boost blooming.

“Pastel” by Nicholas_T is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The soil has to be acidic, cool, moist, and well-drained, as the roots of pink charm can quickly catch rot when it’s too moist.

Japanese Pieris

This shrub looks like a mini tree with mini leaves. It grows on a thick trunk and has evergreen leaves. The branches may reach from 4’ to 8’ high.

The plant needs well-fertilized, acidic, moist soil with good drainage. The white flowers and fresh red leaves will make your garden look special in spring.

However, you should avoid growing this plant if you have pets and children, as its leaves and nectar are poisonous due to concentrated toxins.

Conclusion

These above shrub types would look great in a shaded area of your yard. They will thrive in partial shade (about 3-4 hours of direct sunlight each day) to full shade (spots that receive no direct sun at all).

Try it out, and let us know how it goes!

Top 17 Best Shrubs for Shade recommended by Garden Experts
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Jill Sandy

I am a sustainable focus gardener. I love decorating my home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques I develop myself.