36 Shrubs That Grow in Full or Partial Shade

illustration of best shrubs for shade

The Spruce

It can be tough designing a garden in a shady area. You have to make sure you choose the right shrubs for the conditions. Without the proper amount of sun, 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 shade. The following plants are able to grow in at least part shade, and some can handle full shade.

Many shrubs that grow in shade are poisonous, including:

  • Aucuba
  • Azaleas and rhododendrons
  • Daphne
  • Chinese yew 
  • Heavenly bamboo
  • Japanese pieris 
  • Mountain laurel
  • Red buckeye
  • Skimmia
  • 01 of 36

    African Scurf Pea (Psoralea pinnata)

    African scurf pea
    cultivar413/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    This medium-size 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 of Kool-Aid bush. The leaves are reminiscent of rosemary. It can be trained into a small tree.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 02 of 36

    Alder-Leaved Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)

    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. Also known as Saskatoon serviceberry, they produce purple-blue pomes that are edible. Varieties generally offer superb fall color that lasts a long time.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 9 (depending on cultivar)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, dry or moist
  • 03 of 36

    Alpine Currant (Ribes alpinum)

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

    Alpine currant bears fruit, but it is dioecious, so you need both male and female plants for pollination. Both the male and female shrubs produce berries, but the females' berries are inedible.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 7
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained, alkaline
  • 04 of 36

    Japanese Aucuba (Aucuba japonica)

    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.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade; can tolerate full shade as needed
    • Soil Needs: Tolerates most soil types and conditions, but must be well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 36 below.
  • 05 of 36

    Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.)

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

    Azaleas and rhododendrons belong to the same genus, Rhododendron, and include both deciduous and evergreen shrubs. Most feature flowers in many brilliant shades. In addition to being shade plants, they also like acidic, making them a good solution to two common problems.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9, depending on variety
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade; some varieties can handle full shade
    • Soil Needs: Acidic, well-drained
  • 06 of 36

    Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)

    Burning bush
    zennie/Getty Images

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

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, slightly acid
  • 07 of 36

    California Sweetshrub (Calycanthus occidentalis)

    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.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, range of types
  • 08 of 36

    Camellia (Camellia sinensis)

    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. It can grow to a height of 10 feet tall but is usually pruned to about 3 to 5 feet for easier harvesting.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, slightly acid
    Continue to 9 of 36 below.
  • 09 of 36

    Canadian Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

    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. It grows best in cold-winter climates in the shade of taller trees and other plantings.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 6
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, acid
  • 10 of 36

    Carol Mackie Daphne (Daphne × burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie')

    Carol Mackie Daphne plant

    Lijuan Guo Photography/Getty Images 

    Carol Mackie daphne features green leaves with a distinct yellow margin. It is a hybrid ('Carol Mackie' is the cultivar) that grows best in partial shade. It has tubular, light pink flowers, but when grown in shade it is favored more for its variegated foliage than its blooms.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained, neutral to slightly acid
  • 11 of 36

    Checkerberry (Gaultheria procumbens)

    Checkerberry

     

    Gratysanna / Getty Images

    This short shrub can serve as a groundcover and works especially well in acidic soil. Also known as American wintergreen or spreading wintergreen, the name "wintergreen" comes from the fact that the leaves release a scent like wintergreen when they are torn.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Low fertility, well-drained, acid
  • 12 of 36

    Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum chinense)

    fringe plant
    jikgoe/Getty Images

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

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10
    • Color Varieties: White, yellow, red
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained loam, slightly acid
    Continue to 13 of 36 below.
  • 13 of 36

    Chinese Yew (Taxus chinensis)

    Yew Berries
    Colin Varndell/Getty Images

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

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Sand or loam, well-drained
  • 14 of 36

    Coast Leucothoe (Leucothoe axillaris)

    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. Its low growth habit and full foliage make it a popular choice for hedges as well as rock gardens and slope plantings.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Organic, well-drained, acid
  • 15 of 36

    Common Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)

    Boxwood
    Francois De Heel / Getty Images

    The common boxwood is a favorite evergreen shrub for use in topiaries, boxwood hedges, and knot gardens. It can grow from 2 to 20 feet tall, depending on the variety.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained loam
  • 16 of 36

    Common Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

    Witch hazel plant
    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.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained, acid
    Continue to 17 of 36 below.
  • 17 of 36

    Dwarf Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)

    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.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moderately moist, well-drained, acid
  • 18 of 36

    Fatshedera (X Fatshedera lizei)

    Fatshedera

     

    yykkaa / Getty Images

    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 also graft English ivy onto fatshedera.

    • Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained; will tolerate sand and clay if well-drained
  • 19 of 36

    Gardenias (Gardenia spp.)

    Gardenia bloom
    Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

    Gardenias are beloved in the southern United States and other warm areas for their fragrant white or yellow flowers. They need humidity or they will falter. In cooler climates, gardenias must be grown indoors. They can handle full shade in warm locations, but flowering may be affected.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Typically hardy to zone 8
    • Color Varieties: White, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, slightly acid
  • 20 of 36

    Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)

    glossy abelia
    IHervas/Getty Images

    Glossy abelia is the result of crossing Abelia chinensis and Abelia uniflora. It has white bell-shaped flowers in summer, but it blooms less in part shade than in full sun.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained, acid
    Continue to 21 of 36 below.
  • 21 of 36

    Glossy Adina (Adina rubella)

    Adina rubella

    Dinesh Valke/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Glossy adina flowers resemble a pincushion with the pins sticking out. It thrives in moist environments but is also drought-tolerant and is a popular choice for bird gardens and butterfly gardens.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained, acid; tolerates wet and dry soils
  • 22 of 36

    Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)

    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.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, humusy, well-drained
  • 23 of 36

    Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla)

    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.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Blue, pink, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained, highly acid to slightly alkaline
  • 24 of 36

    Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)

    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. In addition to white flowers in early spring, it has evergreen leaves and flower buds that provide winter interest.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, rich, slightly acid
    Continue to 25 of 36 below.
  • 25 of 36

    Japanese Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira)

    mockorange
    igaguri_1/GettyImages

    The flowers on this shrub are much like those of orange trees, both in appearance and smell—hence, the common name mock orange. It is a tough plant that can survive in a variety of conditions, including salty and urban environments.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained is best but tolerates a range of soils and pH
  • 26 of 36

    Kerria (Kerria japonica)

    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. It grows gracefully arching branches that can reach 10 feet in height. Its bright yellow blooms can add a much-needed lift to a shady corner of the garden.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained loam
  • 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. This broadleaf evergreen shrub prefers cool, moist soil in partial shade conditions, such as morning sun and afternoon shade.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained, acid
  • 28 of 36

    Northern Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)

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

    Doug McGrady/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 

    The flowers of this low-growing (about 2 to 3 feet tall) shrub are similar to those of true honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), and the plant does belong to the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae. It is prized for its trumpet-shaped flowers and its fall color.

    • Color Varieties: 3 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, can be dry to medium moisture
    Continue to 29 of 36 below.
  • 29 of 36

    Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

    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. Its common name comes from the shiny seeds, called buckeyes, that are encased in seed pods. The seeds ripen in the fall and are poisonous.

    • Exposure: Full sun-part shade
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Fertile, well-drained, medium moisture
  • 30 of 36

    Red Tip Photinia (Photinia x fraseri)

    red tip photinia
    sergeyryzhov/Getty Images

    The red tip photinia resulted from a cross between Photinia glabra and Photinia serrulata. This evergreen shrub has white flowers, but it is grown primarily for its leaves, which are red or bronze for several weeks after they emerge, eventually turning green. The flowers have an odd smell, and most gardeners prune the plat to prevent flowering.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, neutral pH, must not be wet
  • 31 of 36

    Silver Spurflower (Plectranthus argentatus)

    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. It has bluish-white flowers but is commonly grown for its foliage; the flowers can be pruned to promote foliage growth. You can grow it indoors in colder climates.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained, medium moisture
  • 32 of 36

    Skimmia

    Abstract close-up of Japanese Skimmia
    GeoStock / Getty Images

    Skimmia is a true shade plant that grows best in dappled light but can thrive in full shade. You will need both male and female plants to produce the red or white fruit, typically found on female plants. It is a poisonous shrub, due to the alkaloid skimmianin present in all parts of the plant. The berries can cause cardiac arrest if ingested in large quantities. Some cultivars of skimmia are reported not to be poisonous.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained
    Continue to 33 of 36 below.
  • 33 of 36

    Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)

    toyon
    yhelfman/Getty Images

    Toyon is also commonly known as California holly or Christmas berry. The town of Hollywood, CA is often said to be named in honor of this shrub, which was found in the area, but there are reports to the contrary. The shrub's small white flowers lead to red berries that are popular among many bird species as well as coyotes and bears. The berries were traditionally eaten by Native Americans, although they contain a small amount of cyanide, which is removed from the berries when they are cooked.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Tolerates a variety of soil types, from dry to moist
  • 34 of 36

    Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)

    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 as large as 12 inches across. They prefer dappled shade but will tolerate full sun, although hot sun can be hard on the flowers. If you do place it in a sunny location, make sure it gets regular watering.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, red, pink, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Fertile loam, neutral to slightly alkaline
  • 35 of 36

    Wintercreeper Euonymus (Euonymus fortunei)

    winter creeper
    speakingtomato/Getty Images

    This evergreen shrub can be a vine, a low shrub, or even a ground cover. In the wild, it often grows as a liana, climbing trees and other structures to great heights. It is very easy to grow but is considered invasive in many areas; inquire at a local extension office before planting it.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade; variegated varieties need some shade during the day
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained, alkaline
  • 36 of 36

    Viburnums (Viburnum spp.)

    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. Varieties that do well in full shade include leather leaf, arrowwood, and mapleleaf.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Varies by species
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained (typically)