The Q&A Archives: Bushes for Shade

Question: I want to plant shrubs next to my house under a window. I want something that will not grow too tall (3-3 1/2') and that can survive in the shade. They will be close to several tall trees that shade the area starting in the spring. Any suggestions for some hearty shrubs that can survive in a less than perfect situation?

Answer: Some of the most commonly suggested shrubs for shade include the azaleas and rhododendrons, and there are many varieties which normally stay within the height range you need. Another possible selection would be yew, although pruning would be required to maintain the height where you want it. Yet another possibility would be Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) which is a lovely native shrub with fragrant blooms in summer and a gorgeous fall color, or perhaps a smaller named variety of Summersweet Clethra (Clethra alnifolia), another nice native shrub which produces fragrant blooms in late summer. Finally, you might consider hostas -- these are perennials rather than shrubs, but they are available in large sizes (foliage heights range up to three feet) and thrive in shade with little or no care once established.

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