36 Shrubs for Part Shade and Full Shade Areas

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

    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 remind me of rosemary. It can be trained into a small tree.

  • 02 of 36

    Alder-Leaved Serviceberry

    Saskatoon or Serviceberry bush blossoming, Amelanchier alnifolia, near Thunder Bay, ON, Canada.
    Stephen J. Krasemann / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Amelanchier alnifolia
    • Other Common Names: Saskatoon serviceberry, dwarf shadbush, western juneberry, saskatoon, Pacific serviceberry, alder-leaf shadbush, western serviceberry
    • Native to: North America
    • USDA Zones: 2-9 depending on cultivar
    • Height: 4-15' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

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

  • 03 of 36

    Alpine Currant

    Red currant shrub—leaves and fruit
    -annalisa-/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Ribes alpinum
    • Native to: Europe
    • USDA Zones: 2-7
    • Height: 3-6' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade

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

  • 04 of 36


    Aucuba (Aucuba japonica), close-up of leaves and fruit
    DEA / S. MONTANARI / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Aucuba japonica
    • Other Common Names: Spotted laurel, Japanese laurel
    • Native to: Japan and China
    • USDA Zones: 7-10
    • Height: 3-10' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade. Can tolerate full shade as needed.

    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.

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  • 05 of 36

    Azaleas and Rhododendrons

    Flowers of the Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum), Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, Washington.
    Ethan Welty / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Rhododendron spp.
    • Native to: 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.

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

  • 06 of 36

    Burning Bush

    Burning bush
    zennie/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Euonymus alata
    • Other Common Names: Winged euonymus, winged spindle, cork bush, winged wahoo
    • Native to: China, Japan, and Korea
    • USDA Zones: 4-9
    • Height: 8-15' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    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.

  • 07 of 36

    California Sweetshrub

    California Sweetshrub

    (C) Bill Pusztai/Getty Images 

    • Latin Name: Calycanthus occidentalis
    • Other Common Names: Spice bush, California allspice, Western sweet shrub
    • Native to: California
    • USDA Zones: 6-9
    • Height: 4-15' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade

    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.

  • 08 of 36


    White flower of Camellia sinensis (tea plant)

    Milton Gikas/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 

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

    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.

    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
    • Latin 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 to: North America, Greenland, northeastern Asia
    • USDA Zones: 2-7
    • Height: 2-12" tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade

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

  • 10 of 36

    Carol Mackie Daphne

    Carol Mackie Daphne plant

    Lijuan Guo Photography/Getty Images 

    • Latin Name: Daphne × burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie'
    • Native to: The parents of this shrub come from Europe (Daphne cneorum) and the Caucasus (Daphne caucasica.)
    • USDA Zones: 4-8
    • Height: 2-4' tall
    • Exposure: Part shade

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

  • 11 of 36



    InAweofGod'sCreation/Flickr/CC BY 2.0​


    • Latin Name: Gaultheria procumbens
    • Other Common Names: Boxberry, American wintergreen, eastern teaberry, spreading wintergreen
    • Native to: Northeastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 3-8
    • Height: 3-6" tall
    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade

    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 ​a wintergreen if torn.

  • 12 of 36

    Chinese Fringe-Flower

    fringe plant
    jikgoe/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Loropetalum chinese
    • Common Names: Loropetalum, Chinese witch hazel
    • Native to: Japan and southeastern Asia
    • USDA Zones: 7-10
    • Height: 3-12' tall
    • Exposure: Partial shade

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

    Continue to 13 of 36 below.
  • 13 of 36

    Chinese Yew

    Yew Berries
    Colin Varndell/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Taxus chinensis
    • Other Common Names: Beauty yew, China fir
    • Native to: China
    • USDA Zones: 6-9. Can be grown in Zone 5 if protected.
    • Height: 15-50' tall. Can be 100' tall in its native region.
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade

    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 aril fruit found on yews.

  • 14 of 36

    Coast Leucothoe

    Coast Leucothoe

    KENPEI/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

    • Latin Name: Leucothoe axillaris
    • Other Common Names: Coastal doghobble, fetter bush
    • Native to: Eastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: 2-4' tall
    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade

    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.

  • 15 of 36

    Common Boxwood

    Francois De Heel / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Buxus sempervirens
    • Other Common Names: European box, boxwood, common box
    • Native to: Western and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 2-20' tall depending on the variety chosen
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

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

  • 16 of 36

    Common Witch Hazel

    Germany, witch hazel in winter
    Westend61 / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Hamamelis virginiana
    • Other Common Names: American witch hazel, common witch hazel
    • Native to: Eastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 4-8
    • Height: Usually 10-15' tall, though it can reach 30'.
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

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

    Continue to 17 of 36 below.
  • 17 of 36

    Dwarf Fothergilla

    dwarf Fothergilla
    Maria_Ermolova/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Fothergilla gardenii
    • Other Common Names: Dwarf witch alder, coastal witch alder, and dwarf witch fothergilla
    • Native to: Southeastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 1 1/2-6' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade

    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.

  • 18 of 36



    Megan Hansen/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    • Latin Name: X Fatshedera lizei
    • Other Common Names: Aralia ivy, botanical-wonder, tree ivy, fat headed Lizzy, bush ivy
    • Native to: Found in Nantes, France
    • USDA Zones: 8-11
    • Height: 3-10' tall
    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade

    Fatshedera is produced by the 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.

  • 19 of 36


    Gardenia bloom
    Daniela Duncan / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Gardenia spp.
    • Native to: Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and Oceania
    • USDA Zones: Depends on species
    • Height: Depends on species
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade. It can handle full shade in warm locations, but flowering may be affected.

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

  • 20 of 36

    Glossy Abelia

    glossy abelia
    IHervas/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Abelia x grandiflora
    • Native to: Italy
    • USDA Zones: 6-9
    • Height: 3-6' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

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

    Continue to 21 of 36 below.
  • 21 of 36

    Glossy Adina

    Adina rubella

    Dinesh Valke/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    • Latin Name: Adina rubella
    • Other Common Names: Chinese buttonbush
    • Native to: China
    • USDA Zones: 6-9
    • Height: 6-10' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

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

  • 22 of 36

    Heavenly Bamboo

    Heavenly bamboo

    Toshihiro Gamo/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    • Latin Name: Nandina domestica
    • Other Common Names: Sacred bamboo, nandina
    • Native to: Eastern Asia
    • USDA Zones: 6-9
    • Height: 1 1/2-8' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Heavenly bamboo is named for its resemblance to bamboo plants. This 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.

  • 23 of 36


    Close-Up Of Hydrangea Blooming Outdoors
    Mitsuru Moriaki / EyeEm / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Hydrangea
    • Other Common Names: Hortensia
    • Native to: 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

    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.

  • 24 of 36

    Japanese Pieris

    japanese pieris
    Miyuki Satake/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Pieris japonica
    • Other Common Names: Japanese andromeda, bog rosemary, lily-of-the-valley bush
    • Native to: China, Japan, and Taiwan
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 4-12' tall
    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade

    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.

    Continue to 25 of 36 below.
  • 25 of 36

    Japanese Pittosporum

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

    The flowers on this shrub are much like those of orange trees, both in appearance and smell.

  • 26 of 36


    Closeup of yellow flowers of single Kerria japonica shrub.
    Tetsuya Tanooka/Aflo/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Kerria japonica
    • Other Common Names: Japanese yellow rose, Japanese kerria, Easter rose, kerria rose
    • Native to: China, Japan, and Korea
    • USDA Zones: 4-9
    • Height: 3-6' tall>
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade

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

  • 27 of 36

    Mountain Laurel

    Closeup of pink flowers of Kalmia latifolia 'Clementine Churchill'.
    Paul Tomlins/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Kalmia latifolia
    • Other Common Names: Spoonwood, lambkill, calico bush, ivybush, clamoun, sheep laurel
    • Native to: Eastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: Normally anywhere from 5-15' tall, but can be over 40'.
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade, though best in at least part shade.

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

  • 28 of 36

    Northern Bush Honeysuckle

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

    Doug McGrady/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 

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

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

    Continue to 29 of 36 below.
  • 29 of 36

    Red Buckeye

    Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye), branches with bright red flowers
    Harley Seaway / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Aesculus pavia
    • Other Common Names: Firecracker plant
    • Native to: United States
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: 10-30'+ tall
    • Exposure: Full sun-part shade

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

  • 30 of 36

    Red Tip Photinia

    red tip photinia
    sergeyryzhov/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Photinia x fraseri
    • Other Common Names: Fraser photinia, red-tipped photinia, red top, red tip
    • USDA Zones: 7-9
    • Height: 8-18' tall depending on variety
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

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

  • 31 of 36

    Silver Spurflower

    Plectranthus argentatus with Salvia involucrata Bethellii
    Anne Green-Armytage / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Plectranthus argentatus
    • Other Common Names: Brazilian coleus, silvery plectranthus
    • Native to: Australia
    • USDA Zones: 10-11
    • Height: 1-3' tall
    • Exposure: Part shade

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

  • 32 of 36


    Abstract close-up of Japanese Skimmia
    GeoStock / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Skimmia japonica
    • Other Common Names: Japanese skimmia
    • Native to: Japan
    • USDA Zones: 6-8
    • Height: 2-4' tall
    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade

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

    Continue to 33 of 36 below.
  • 33 of 36


    yhelfman/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Heteromeles arbutifolia
    • Other Common Names: Christmasberry, California holly, Hollywood plant
    • Native to: California
    • USDA Zones: 7-11
    • Height: 6-15' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    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.

  • 34 of 36

    Tree Peony

    Tree peony plant
    Lisa Hubbard / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Paeonia suffruticosa
    • Other Common Names: Mudan, moutan peony, Japanese tree peony
    • Native to: China, Tibet, Bhutan
    • USDA Zones: 4-8
    • Height: 2-10' tall depending on variety
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    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.

  • 35 of 36

    Wintercreeper Euonymus

    winter creeper
    speakingtomato/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Euonymus fortunei
    • Other Common Names: Winter creeper, wintercreeper, Fortune's spindle, Chinese spindle-tree, climbing euonymus
    • Native to: China, Korea, Philippines and Japan
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: Depends on variety, can be 6"-15' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade. Give variegated varieties at least some shade during the day.

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

  • 36 of 36


    viburnum opulus - notcutt's variety, october, beaulieu
    Christopher Fairweather / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Viburnum spp.
    • Native to: 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

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