The Q&A Archives: which is better: shady area:

Question: Which is better for a shady area, north side of house, under japanese maples? Rhododendron Princess Yuka or Taxus baccata repandans?

Answer: For deep shade on the north foundation, you might consider Sarcococca hookeriana humilis or possibly Japanese aucuba. Both of these are more shade tolerant than the two plants you mentioned. The two you listed would do better with some direct sun than in total shade -- but both are very nice plants. You might find that the rhododendron (I think you meant "Yaku Princess") blooms poorly in deep shade and grows even more slowly than usual as these prefer morning sun or bright dappled light all day. Of the two, I think the yew might provide a more visually pleasing effect with the Japanese maples but that is just personal preference on my part. It is also more drought tolerant than a shallow rooted rhododendron would be, this could be important in a dry year when there is competition from tree roots. Your local professional nursery staff might have different suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of the growing conditions in the planting area and your design goals.

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