36 Shrubs You Can Grow in Full or Partial Shade

illustration of best shrubs for shade

Illustration: © The Spruce, 2019 

It can be tough designing a garden in a shady area. You have to make sure you choose the right shrubs for that condition. Flowering shrubs may fail to produce blossoms or bloom poorly, and many shrubs will perform poorly overall. Deep shade can even kill your plants unless they are species that naturally grow in part shade or shade. The following plants are able to grow in at least part shade. Some can handle full shade.

  • 01 of 36

    African Scurf Pea

    African scurf pea
    cultivar413/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    This medium shrub is covered with lilac-blue flowers like those of the sweet pea and many other members of the Fabaceae family. They give off a fragrance that reminds some of Kool-Aid, inspiring the common name. The leaves are reminiscent of rosemary. It can be trained into a small tree.

    • Botanical Name: Psoralea pinnata
    • Other Common Names: Blue pea, fountain bush, scurfy pea shrub, Kool-Aid bush, Albany broom, blue broom, blue Psoralea, Taylorina
    • Native Area: South Africa
    • USDA Zones: 9 to 11
    • Height: 5 to 12 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 02 of 36

    Alder-Leaved Serviceberry

    Saskatoon or Serviceberry bush blossoming, Amelanchier alnifolia, near Thunder Bay, ON, Canada.
    Stephen J. Krasemann / Getty Images

    Alder-leaved serviceberries feature clusters of white flowers that appear in April and May. They produce purple-blue pomes that are edible.

    • Botanical Name: Amelanchier alnifolia
    • Other Common Names: Saskatoon serviceberry, dwarf shadbush, western juneberry, saskatoon, Pacific serviceberry, alder-leaf shadbush, western serviceberry
    • Native Area: North America
    • USDA Zones: 2 to 9 depending on the cultivar
    • Height: 4 to 15 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 03 of 36

    Alpine Currant

    Red currant shrub—leaves and fruit
    -annalisa-/Getty Images

    This shrub is dioecious so you will need both male and female plants to produce fruit.

    • Botanical Name: Ribes alpinum
    • Native Area: Europe
    • USDA Zones: 2 to 7
    • Height: 3 to 6 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade
  • 04 of 36

    Aucuba

    Aucuba (Aucuba japonica), close-up of leaves and fruit
    DEA / S. MONTANARI / Getty Images

    This evergreen shrub is usually planted for its striking leaves. Choose both male and female shrubs to produce the pretty red berries that appear in autumn. Aucuba is poisonous, so it might not be the best choice for gardeners with young children or pets.

    • Botanical Name: Aucuba japonica
    • Other Common Names: Spotted laurel, Japanese laurel
    • Native Area: Japan and China
    • USDA Zones: 7 to 10
    • Height: 3 to 10 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade. Can tolerate full shade as needed.
    Continue to 5 of 36 below.
  • 05 of 36

    Azaleas and Rhododendrons

    Flowers of the Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum), Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, Washington.
    Ethan Welty / Getty Images

    Azaleas and rhododendrons are deciduous and evergreen shrubs that feature flowers in many brilliant shades. They need to have soil that is acidic.

    • Botanical Name: Rhododendron spp.
    • Native Area: Asia, Europe, and North America
    • USDA Zones: Depends on species
    • Height: Depends on species
    • Exposure: These shrubs do best in partial shade, though some can handle full shade.
  • 06 of 36

    Burning Bush

    Burning bush
    zennie/Getty Images

    As the name burning bush suggests, this shrub features a brilliant red color in the fall. You may want to check with your local extension office as the burning bush is considered to be invasive in some areas.

    • Botanical Name: Euonymus alata
    • Other Common Names: Winged euonymus, winged spindle, cork bush, winged wahoo
    • Native Area: China, Japan, and Korea
    • USDA Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 8 to 15 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 07 of 36

    California Sweetshrub

    California Sweetshrub

    (C) Bill Pusztai/Getty Images 

    For a deep red flower that features a scent reminiscent of red wine, plant the California sweetshrub. Keep in mind that it does not tolerate drought and prefers moist soil.

    • Botanical Name: Calycanthus occidentalis
    • Other Common Names: Spice bush, California allspice, Western sweet shrub
    • Native Area: California
    • USDA Zones: 6 to 9
    • Height: 4 to 15 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade
  • 08 of 36

    Camellia

    White flower of Camellia sinensis (tea plant)

    Milton Gikas/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 

    Several different kinds of Chinese tea are made from the leaves and twigs of the Camellia shrub. The leaves are picked at all stages of development.

    • Botanical Name: Camellia sinensis
    • Other Common Names: Tea plant, tea shrub, tea tree
    • Native toArea: China, South and Southeast Asia
    • USDA Zones: 7 to 9
    • Height: 3 to 10 feet tall. Usually pruned to a height of 3 to 5 feet for easier harvesting.
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    Continue to 9 of 36 below.
  • 09 of 36

    Canadian Bunchberry

    Cornus canadensis, Canadian dwarf cornel, Canadian bunchberry, Quatre-temps, Crackerberry, Creeping dogwood, Dwarf Dogwood, Cornaceae
    Zen Rial / Getty Images

    This subshrub can be used as a groundcover. It will spread itself throughout an area by rhizomes.

    • Botanical Name: Cornus canadensis
    • Other Common Names: Crackerberry, bearberry, low cornel, pudding berry, Canadian dwarf cornel, pigeonberry, bunchplum, bunchberry dogwood, creeping dogwood, squirrelberry, dwarf dogwood, dogwood bunchberry, ground dogwood
    • Native Area: North America, Greenland, northeastern Asia
    • USDA Zones: 2 to 7
    • Height: 2 to 12 inches tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade
  • 10 of 36

    Carol Mackie Daphne

    Carol Mackie Daphne plant

    Lijuan Guo Photography/Getty Images 

    Carol Mackie daphne features green leaves with a distinct yellow margin. The tubular flowers are a light pink shade.

    • Botanical Name: Daphne × burkwoodii "Carol Mackie"
    • Native Area: The parents of this shrub come from Europe (Daphne cneorum) and the Caucasus (Daphne caucasica)
    • USDA Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 2 to 4 feet tall
    • Exposure: Part shade
  • 11 of 36

    Checkerberry

    Checkerberry

    InAweofGod'sCreation/Flickr/CC BY 2.0​

     

    This short shrub can serve as a groundcover and works especially well in acidic soil. The name wintergreen comes from the fact that the leaves release a scent like wintergreen if torn.

    • Botanical Name: Gaultheria procumbens
    • Other Common Names: Boxberry, American wintergreen, eastern teaberry, spreading wintergreen
    • Native Area: Northeastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 3 to 8
    • Height: 3 to 6 inches tall
    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade
  • 12 of 36

    Chinese Fringe Flower

    fringe plant
    jikgoe/Getty Images

    The flowers on this evergreen shrub can be white, yellow, or red depending on the variety and are similar to their relative its witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) relative.

    • Botanical Name: Loropetalum chinese
    • Common Names: Loropetalum, Chinese witch hazel
    • Native Area: Japan and southeastern Asia
    • USDA Zones: 7 to 10
    • Height: 3 to 12 feet tall
    • Exposure: Partial shade
    Continue to 13 of 36 below.
  • 13 of 36

    Chinese Yew

    Yew Berries
    Colin Varndell/Getty Images

    The Chinese yew grows splendidly in full shade locations, as well as many other situations like cold, heat and the range of soil types. It also has the typical bright red berry-looking fruit found on yews.

    • Botanical Name: Taxus chinensis
    • Other Common Names: Beauty yew, China fir
    • Native Area: China
    • USDA Zones: 6 to 9, and zone 5 if protected
    • Height: 15 to 50 feet tall. Can be 100 feet tall in its native region.
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade
  • 14 of 36

    Coast Leucothoe

    Coast Leucothoe

    KENPEI/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

    This shrub is ericaceous and will need acidic soil to grow properly. The small white flowers have the typical urn shape found in many Ericaceae species.

    • Botanical Name: Leucothoe axillaris
    • Other Common Names: Coastal doghobble, fetter bush
    • Native Area: Eastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: 2 to 4 feet tall
    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade
  • 15 of 36

    Common Boxwood

    Boxwood
    Francois De Heel / Getty Images

    The common boxwood is a favorite evergreen shrub for use in topiaries, hedges, and knot gardens.

    • Botanical Name: Buxus sempervirens
    • Other Common Names: European box, boxwood, common box
    • Native Area: Western and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia
    • USDA Zones: 5 to 8
    • Height: 2 to 20 feet tall depending on the variety chosen
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 16 of 36

    Common Witch Hazel

    Germany, witch hazel in winter
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Many beauty products feature extracts from the witch hazel shrub due to its astringent property. It can also add some late summer and fall color to the garden from its flowers and turned leaves.

    • Botanical Name: Hamamelis virginiana
    • Other Common Names: American witch hazel, common witch hazel
    • Native Area: Eastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: Usually 10 to 15 feet tall, though it can reach 30 feet
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    Continue to 17 of 36 below.
  • 17 of 36

    Dwarf Fothergilla

    dwarf Fothergilla
    Maria_Ermolova/Getty Images

    The dwarf fothergilla is a carefree shrub that can grow in your shady areas. As with many of the Hamamelidaceae family members, it puts on a gorgeous fall show.

    • Botanical Name: Fothergilla gardenii
    • Other Common Names: Dwarf witch alder, coastal witch alder, and dwarf witch fothergilla
    • Native Area: Southeastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5 to 8
    • Height: 1 1/2 to 6 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade
  • 18 of 36

    Fatshedera

    Fatshedera

    Megan Hansen/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Fatshedera is produced by a cross of Japanese fatsia (Fatsia japonica) and English ivy (Hedera helix.) It can be used as a groundcover on a trellis or trained into a shrub form. You can graft English ivy onto fatshedera.

    • Botanical Name: X Fatshedera lizei
    • Other Common Names: Aralia ivy, botanical-wonder, tree ivy, fat headed Lizzy, bush ivy
    • Native Area: Nantes, France
    • USDA Zones: 8 to 11
    • Height: 3 to 10 feet tall
    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade
  • 19 of 36

    Gardenias

    Gardenia bloom
    Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

    Gardenias are beloved in the southern United States for their fragrant white or yellow flowers. They need humidity or they will falter.

    • Botanical Name: Gardenia spp.
    • Native Area: Africa, southern Asia, Australasia, and Oceania
    • USDA Zones: Depends on the species
    • Height: Depends on the species
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade. It can handle full shade in warm locations, but flowering may be affected.
  • 20 of 36

    Glossy Abelia

    glossy abelia
    IHervas/Getty Images

    Glossy abelia is the result of crossing Abelia chinensis and Abelia uniflora. The pink tube flowers are fragrant.

    • Botanical Name: Abelia x grandiflora
    • Native Area: Italy
    • USDA Zones: 6 to 9
    • Height: 3 to 6 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    Continue to 21 of 36 below.
  • 21 of 36

    Glossy Adina

    Adina rubella

    Dinesh Valke/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Glossy adina flowers resemble a pincushion with the pins sticking out.

    • Botanical Name: Adina rubella
    • Other Common Names: Chinese buttonbush
    • Native Area: China
    • USDA Zones: 6 to 9
    • Height: 6 to 10 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 22 of 36

    Heavenly Bamboo

    Heavenly bamboo

    Toshihiro Gamo/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Heavenly bamboo is named for its resemblance to bamboo plants. It is considered to be invasive in some locations so check with your local nursery or extension office before planting. It is also poisonous, especially for cats and livestock.

    • Botanical Name: Nandina domestica
    • Other Common Names: Sacred bamboo, nandina
    • Native Area: Eastern Asia
    • USDA Zones: 6 to 9
    • Height: 1 1/2 to 8 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 23 of 36

    Hydrangeas

    Close-Up Of Hydrangea Blooming Outdoors
    Mitsuru Moriaki / EyeEm / Getty Images

    One amazing feature of Hydrangea macrophylla is that you can change the color of their flowers depending on whether their soil is acidic or alkaline. Acidic soil containing aluminum will turn the blossoms blue. Alkaline soil without aluminum will produce pink blooms.

    • Botanical Name: Hydrangea
    • Other Common Names: Hortensia
    • Native Area: North America, South America, Asia
    • USDA Zones: Depends on species
    • Height: Depends on species
    • Exposure: Some like shade and others like morning sun and afternoon shade
  • 24 of 36

    Japanese Pieris

    japanese pieris
    Miyuki Satake/Getty Images

    You may need to make your soil acidic for this shrub. It is poisonous and you may not want to plant it if you have children or pets.

    • Botanical Name: Pieris japonica
    • Other Common Names: Japanese andromeda, bog rosemary, lily-of-the-valley bush
    • Native Area: China, Japan, and Taiwan
    • USDA Zones: 5 to 8
    • Height: 4 to 12 feet tall
    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    Continue to 25 of 36 below.
  • 25 of 36

    Japanese Pittosporum

    mockorange
    igaguri_1/GettyImages

    The flowers on the mock orange shrub are much like those of orange trees, both in appearance and smell, hence the common name.

    • Botanical Name: Pittosporum tobira
    • Other Common Names: Japanese mockorange, Japanese mock-orange, Japanese cheesewood, and tobira
    • Native Area: China and Japan
    • USDA Zones: 8 to 10
    • Height: 6 to 15 feet tall depending on variety
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade
  • 26 of 36

    Kerria

    Closeup of yellow flowers of single Kerria japonica shrub.
    Tetsuya Tanooka/Aflo/Getty Images

    Kerria will cheer up your garden with its yellow flowers. They may bloom more than once during the growing season.

    • Botanical Name: Kerria japonica
    • Other Common Names: Japanese yellow rose, Japanese kerria, Easter rose, kerria rose
    • Native Area: China, Japan, and Korea
    • USDA Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 3 to 6 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade
  • 27 of 36

    Mountain Laurel

    Closeup of pink flowers of Kalmia latifolia 'Clementine Churchill'.
    Paul Tomlins/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

    The mountain laurel is the state flower of Connecticut and Pennsylvania. It is poisonous to humans, monkeys, deer, and livestock.

    • Botanical Name: Kalmia latifolia
    • Other Common Names: Spoonwood, lambkill, calico bush, ivybush, clamoun, sheep laurel
    • Native Area: Eastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: Normally anywhere from 5 to 15 feet tall, but can be over 40 feet.
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade, though best in at least part shade.
  • 28 of 36

    Northern Bush Honeysuckle

    Diervilla lonicera (bush-honeysuckle), North Smithfield, RI

    Doug McGrady/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 

    Though the yellow flowers are similar, this is not a true honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) It does belong to the honeysuckle Caprifoliaceae family.

    • Botanical Name: Diervilla lonicera
    • Other Common Names: Yellow-flowered upright honeysuckle, low bush honeysuckle, dwarf bush honeysuckle, herbe bleue, life-of-man
    • Native Area: Northeastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 3 to 8
    • Height: 2 to 4 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    Continue to 29 of 36 below.
  • 29 of 36

    Red Buckeye

    Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye), branches with bright red flowers
    Harley Seaway / Getty Images

    This buckeye will attract hummingbirds to your garden. It can be either a shrub or small tree. It is poisonous.

    • Botanical Name: Aesculus pavia
    • Other Common Names: Firecracker plant
    • Native Area: United States
    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: 10 to 30 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun-part shade
  • 30 of 36

    Red Tip Photinia

    red tip photinia
    sergeyryzhov/Getty Images

    The red tip photinia resulted from a cross between Photinia glabra and Photinia serrulata.

    • Botanical Name: Photinia x fraseri
    • Other Common Names: Fraser photinia, red-tipped photinia, red top, red tip
    • USDA Zones: 7 to 9
    • Height: 8 to 18 feet tall depending on variety
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 31 of 36

    Silver Spurflower

    Plectranthus argentatus with Salvia involucrata Bethellii
    Anne Green-Armytage / Getty Images

    This subshrub has succulent leaves that are gray-green and hairy. It belongs to the Lamiaceae mint family.

    • Botanical Name: Plectranthus argentatus
    • Other Common Names: Brazilian coleus, silvery plectranthus
    • Native Area: Australia
    • USDA Zones: 10 to 11
    • Height: 1 to 3 feet tall
    • Exposure: Part shade
  • 32 of 36

    Skimmia

    Abstract close-up of Japanese Skimmia
    GeoStock / Getty Images

    Skimmia is a poisonous shrub. You will need both male and female plants to produce the red or white fruit.

    • Botanical Name: Skimmia japonica
    • Other Common Names: Japanese skimmia
    • Native Area: Japan
    • USDA Zones: 6 to 8
    • Height: 2 to 4 feet tall
    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    Continue to 33 of 36 below.
  • 33 of 36

    Toyon

    toyon
    yhelfman/Getty Images

    Hollywood, California, was named in honor of this shrub, which was found in the area. The small white flowers lead to red berries that contain cyanide compounds in the seeds. Other members of the Rosaceae family like Prunus spp. also have cyanide in their seeds.

    • Botanical Name: Heteromeles arbutifolia
    • Other Common Names: Christmasberry, California holly, Hollywood plant
    • Native Area: California
    • USDA Zones: 7 to 11
    • Height: 6 to 15 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 34 of 36

    Tree Peony

    Tree peony plant
    Lisa Hubbard / Getty Images

    The gorgeous flowers of the tree peony can come in hues of white, red, pink, or purple and can be one foot across. If you do place it in a sunny location, make sure it gets regular watering.

    • Botanical Name: Paeonia suffruticosa
    • Other Common Names: Mudan, moutan peony, Japanese tree peony
    • Native Area: China, Tibet, Bhutan
    • USDA Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 2 to 10 feet tall depending on variety
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 35 of 36

    Wintercreeper Euonymus

    winter creeper
    speakingtomato/Getty Images

    This can be a liana, shrub, or groundcover. It can be invasive in your area, so inquire at your extension office before purchasing.

    • Botanical Name: Euonymus fortunei
    • Other Common Names: Winter creeper, wintercreeper, fortune's spindle, Chinese spindle-tree, climbing euonymus
    • Native Area: China, Korea, Philippines, and Japan
    • USDA Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: Depends on variety, can be 6 inches to 15 feet tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade. Variegated varieties need some shade during the day.
  • 36 of 36

    Viburnums

    viburnum opulus - notcutt's variety, october, beaulieu
    Christopher Fairweather / Getty Images

    Viburnums add color throughout all growing seasons through flowers, leaves, and fruit. There are more than 150 species found throughout the world.

    • Botanical Name: Viburnum spp.
    • Native Area: Mostly Northern Hemisphere as well as South America, Asia, Africa
    • USDA Zones: Depends on species
    • Height: Depends on species
    • Exposure: Most grow in full sun to part shade