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Shrubs for Part Shade and Full Shade Areas

These Plants Can Grow in Part Shade or Shade


It can be tough designing a shady area. You have to make sure you choose the right shrubs for that condition. Flowering shrubs may fail to produce blossoms or bloom poorly, and many shrubs will perform poorly overall. Deep shade can even kill your plants unless they are species that naturally grow in part shade or shade.

The following plants are able to grow in at least part shade. Some can handle full shade.

1. African Scurf Pea

  • Latin Name: Psoralea pinnata
  • Other Common Names: Blue pea, fountain bush, scurfy pea shrub, Kool-Aid bush, Albany broom, blue broom, blue Psoralea, Taylorina
  • Native to: South Africa
  • USDA Zones: 9-11
  • Height: 5-12' tall
  • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

This medium shrub is covered with lilac blue flowers like those of the sweet pea and many other members of the Fabaceae family. They give off a fragrance that reminds some of Kool-Aid, inspiring the common name. The leaves remind me of rosemary. It can be trained into a small tree.

2. Alder-Leaved Serviceberry

  • Latin Name: Amelanchier alnifolia
  • Other Common Names: Saskatoon serviceberry, dwarf shadbush, western juneberry, saskatoon, Pacific serviceberry, alder-leaf shadbush, western serviceberry
  • Native to: North America
  • USDA Zones: 2-9 depending on cultivar
  • Height: 4-15' tall
  • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Alder-leaved serviceberries feature clusters of white flowers that appear in April and May. They produce purple-blue pomes that are edible.

3. Alpine Currant

  • Latin Name: Ribes alpinum
  • Native to: Europe
  • USDA Zones: 2-7
  • Height: 3-6' tall
  • Exposure: Full sun to full shade

This shrub is dioecious so you will need both male and female plants to produce fruit.

4. Aucuba

  • Latin Name: Aucuba japonica
  • Other Common Names: Spotted laurel, Japanese laurel
  • Native to: Japan and China
  • USDA Zones: 7-10
  • Height: 3-10' tall
  • Exposure: Full sun to part shade. Can tolerate full shade as needed.

This evergreen shrub is usually planted for its striking leaves. Choose both male and female shrubs to produce the pretty red berries that appear in autumn. Aucuba is poisonous, so it might not be the best choice for gardeners with young children or pets.

5. Azaleas and Rhododendrons

  • Latin Name: Rhododendron spp.
  • Native to: Asia, Europe and North America
  • USDA Zones: Depends on species
  • Height: Depends on species
  • Exposure: These shrubs do best in partial shade, though some can handle full shade.

Azaleas and rhododendrons are deciduous and evergreen shrubs that feature flowers in many brilliant shades. They need to have soil that is acidic.

6. Burning Bush

  • Latin Name: Euonymus alata
  • Other Common Names: Winged euonymus, winged spindle, cork bush, winged wahoo
  • Native to: China, Japan, and Korea
  • USDA Zones: 4-9
  • Height: 8-15' tall
  • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

As the name burning bush suggests, this shrub features a brilliant red color in the fall. You may want to check with your local extension office as the burning bush is considered to be invasive in some areas.

7. California Sweetshrub

  • Latin Name: Calycanthus occidentalis
  • Other Common Names: Spice bush, California allspice, Western sweet shrub
  • Native to: California
  • USDA Zones: 6-9
  • Height: 4-15' tall
  • Exposure: Full sun to full shade

For a deep red flower that features a scent reminiscent of red wine, plant the California sweetshrub. It does not tolerate drought and prefers moist soil.

8. Camilla

  • Latin Name: Camellia sinensis
  • Other Common Names: Tea plant, tea shrub, tea tree
  • Native to: China, South and Southeast Asia
  • USDA Zones: 7-9
  • Height: 3-10' tall. Usually pruned to a height of 3-5' for easier harvesting.
  • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Several different kinds of Chinese tea are made from the leaves and twigs of this shrub. The leaves are picked at all stages of development.

9. Canadian Bunchberry

  • Latin Name: Cornus canadensis
  • Other Common Names: Crackerberry, bearberry, low cornel, pudding berry, Canadian dwarf cornel, pigeonberry, bunchplum, bunchberry dogwood, creeping dogwood, squirrelberry, dwarf dogwood, dogwood bunchberry, ground dogwood
  • Native to: North America, Greenland, northeastern Asia
  • USDA Zones: 2-7
  • Height: 2-12" tall
  • Exposure: Full sun to full shade

This subshrub can be used as a groundcover. It will spread itself throughout an area by rhizomes.

10. Carol Mackie Daphne

  • Latin Name: Daphne × burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie'
  • Native to: The parents of this shrub come from Europe (Daphne cneorum) and the Caucasus (Daphne caucasica.)
  • USDA Zones: 4-8
  • Height: 2-4' tall
  • Exposure: Part shade

Carol Mackie daphne features green leaves with a distinct yellow margin. The tubular flowers are a light pink shade.

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