The Q&A Archives: Full Shade Plants/Trees

Question: Can you give me suggestions for full shade, north wall, no direct sun trees and shrubs?Any flowering shrubs? The yard is small with a tall 1 story house that practically shades the entire backyard. Thank you.

Answer: Shady spots can be difficult to landscape in, especially if you have color in mind. The best flowering tree for a shady spot, one that stays small, is the dogwood. "Cherokee Chief" flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief') is my favorite. This flowering dogwood grows to a height of 20'-25' and spreads 12'-15'. Cherokee Chief dogwood puts out red blooms in spring, while its fall foliage is bronze-colored. An understory tree in the wild, flowering dogwoods are an excellent choice in shade plants for the landscape.

Shade-tolerant red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Allemans') puts out white flowers in May that are followed by white fruit. But red osier dogwood is grown for its bark, not its bloom. The bark ranges in color from red to burgundy. Its height is 6'-10', its spread 5'-10'. A fiery red patch of red osier dogwood against a backdrop of pristine snow makes for an unforgettable winter scene, an important consideration if you are aiming for a landscape with year-round interest.

Flowering shrubs include LEMON WAVE HYDRANGEA (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lemon Wave'). Spectacular deciduous shrub with showy, pink blushed, white flowers that surround a cluster of smaller, fertile flowers. Blooms are borne in summer against a background of green-centered foliage boldy edged in lemon yellow, cream and white. Great in the shrub border or as an accent for dazzling color contrast in the landscape. Prefers shade.

REEVES SKIMMIA (Skimmia reevesiana). Very dwarf evergreen shrub displays dense branches and mounded form. A handsome accent with dark green lance-shaped thick leathery leaves; fragrant white flower clusters are self-fertile, enabling plant to bear crimson berries. Partial to full shade. Slow-growing to 2 feet high, 2 to 3 feet wide.

JOCK'S CAIRN MALAYSIAN RHODODENDRON (Rhododendron x 'Jock's Cairn'). Unique salmon pink tubular flowers distinguish this remarkable tropical shrub. Reliably produces incredibly huge trusses of up to 20 flowers each. Blooms over a long season through summer and fall. Adapted to jungle shade and at home on tree covered or shaded sites. A spreading, dense plant that is perfect for traditional shrub applications such as foundations or as a flowering accent. Dense background foliage for exotic tropicals. Well adapted to container for balcony or patio, and is a favorite for conservatories and atriums. Prefers well drained acidic soil allowed to dry out between waterings. Evergreen. Shade or part shade. Slow to moderate growth to about 4 feet tall and up to 6 feet wide.

SWEETBOX (Sarcococca confusa). A truly handsome species. This evergreen shrub is densely covered with dark, glossy green foliage. Sweetly scented clusters of tiny white flowers that are followed by showy, glossy black fruit. Excellent ground cover or mixed border plant for shady areas. Partial to full shade. Deciduous. Moderate growth to 3 to 5 feet tall and as wide.

Hope these suggestions are helpful. For even more ideas, do a plant search for "shade shrubs" on the Monrovia website. There are 250 choices!

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