The Q&A Archives: Shrubs For Shade

Question: We have successfully grown rhododendrons in partial sun but have been trying to grow them in full shade with no success. As a matter of fact some of our well established ones (7-25 years)are even starting to die off, one branch at a time. What could be causing this and what other shrubs would do well in our northern climate in full shade? This is for the front of our home and it has been a struggle to keep it nice.

Answer: If the rhododendrons are just beginning to die off , I would be concerned that there is a soil or insect problem as much as a shade problem, so you might want to look into that before adding another type of plant that might be susceptible to the same thing. To stay with an evergreen, you might consider Schipka Cherrylaurel if the location is sheltered from the wind. If it is not sheltered, you might try a deciduous plant such as a smaller form of Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire) or a dwarf form of Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet Clethra). These will both tolerate a wider range of soil types, including a heavier or moister soil, as well as shade. They are also fragrant in bloom.

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