The Q&A Archives: shade bush perennials

Question: What full size bushes can I grow in the shade (between large trees) for privacy?

Answer: There are several evergreen shrubs from which to choose:

Arborvitae Thuja; One of the most popular evergreen shrubs in our climate, arborvitaes have flat fans of scalelike needles. Certain species are called white cedars. Arborvitaes are easy to grow and very adaptable. There are varieties hardy for Zones 3 and 4. Some are very shade tolerant.

Yew Taxus - Another popular evergreen shrub in our climate, yews have short, soft, dark green needles. Because of their rich, dark green color, they are often used in foundation plantings. The best upright variety for our area is Japanese Upright Yew (Taxus cuspidata 'Capitata'). This variety will grow at lease 10-12 feet tall and can spread at least 5 feet wide. The new growth on yews each season is a bright green that darkens later in the season. Yews are very shade tolerant.

Hemlock Tsuga; An under-used evergreen for the landscape, there are some very nice shrub forms of hemlock. The foliage on hemlocks consists of very fine, soft needles with a medium green color on top and a much lighter green on the underside. Weeping hemlock (Tsuga canadensis 'Pendula') will grow 10-15 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide with arching, weeping branches.

Japanese Holly Ilex crenata
Most Japanese hollies produce small, spineless leaves and black fruit. They are popular, small, compact evergreen shrubs. 'Convexa' - An excellent variety with dark-green convex leaves, this is one of the hardiest forms. It is frequently used as a hedge. A 40 year old plant may reach 9 feet tall and 24 feet wide.

'Roundleaf' - This is a male selection that does not produce berries. Its rounded leaves are larger than any of the other Japanese hollies; it is more subject to winter injury. Grows 5 to 10 feet tall and 5 to 12 feet wide.

Chinese Holly Ilex cornuta
The Chinese holly produces large, spiny, glossy, green leaves and bright-red berries. It is one of the few hollies that does not require pollination to produce berries. Therefore, there is no reason to plant the male forms. 'Burfordii' -A popular variety with deep-green, glossy leaves; its leaf margins are smooth, with only one leaf spine generally present at the tip. It is a heavy fruiter, but it is less hardy than the common Chinese holly. It grows 10 to 20 feet tall and wide.

Best wishes with your new shrubs!

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