Shrubs For Shady Area - Knowledgebase Question

Hutchinson, KS
Question by schafer4
January 28, 2000
We have a wood fence along the back of our yard with two large oak trees several yards to the west of the fence and two redbuds along the fencerow. The fence looks so bare. Are there any shrubs that would live in this shady area?


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Answer from NGA
January 28, 2000

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Sure! What you are looking for are "understory" trees or shrubs which are those which survive and even do well under the protection of larger trees. Many of these are also called "edge of the woods" plants.

Give these smaller trees a look: Kousa dogwood or "Appalachian Spring" Flowering Dogwood (this variety resists anthracnose which is causing a major problem to native dogwoods throughout the Midwest).

Some shrubs that handle shade well are:
Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora), which loves shade, tolerates average soil, and needs lots of room. Its showy white flowers are 10-inch long cylinders!
Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) takes sun or shade, but needs moisture. It too has showy white flowers that dry well in fall.
Carolina Allspice or Sweet-shrub (Calycanthus florida) is an old-fashion shrub that has aromatic leaves and spicy-fragrant, purple-brown insignificant flowers. It tolerates average soil.

For winter green, consider the Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) which needs shade and moisture to do well. This native will grow into a large conical evergreen with soft, short needles.
You have lots of nice choices!

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