The Q&A Archives: Shrubs for Shade

Question: The front of my house faces northeast and I have two large trees in the front. I want to add vibrant color to this area and want to do it myself. However, I don't have much of a clue about this type of thing. What are some good flowering shrubs that require low sunlight and minimal maintenance? I also already have three shrubs but they stay green and have really bad shape. I would like to remove these and start fresh. What would be the best way to prepare the area?

Answer: There are only a few shrubs that will tolerate shade and the dry soil normally encountered when there are large trees in the area. Among them are:
Yew (Needled evergreen); Tolerates shearing
Azalea or Rhododendron (Rhododendron sp.) both deciduous andr evergreen types so check the label carefully; best in enriched soil with adequate moisture during summer. Large number of species/hybrids/cultivars; vary in flower color, plant size, cold hardiness
Buckey (Aesculus)large shrub or small tree; 15-20? tall x 15-20? wide ; flowers either in true red or white/cream
Calycanthus floridus, 6' tall by 8' wide; deciduous shrub. Irregular habit with unique flowers in deep red. Foliage turns yellow in fall.
Camellia japonica, medium size (8' tall by 8' wide) with very showy flowers. Flowers variable (single/double; white, pink, red); flowers typically January thru March.

You might also try growing Pieris (lily of the valley shrub) or some ferns in the area.

Best wishes with your shade garden!

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