30 Shrubs That Grow in Shade

Illustration of shrubs that like shady gardens

Illustration: Catherine Song. © The Spruce, 2018

Shrubs that grow in shade are a diverse lot. These bushes can provide color and interest to a drab nook in your yard. They range from short bushes to tall hedges and include both evergreen and deciduous plants. Some produce blossoms, while others are planted mostly for their foliage.

  • 01 of 30
    Minuet laurel (image) has reddish-pink flowers.
    David Beaulieu

    Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a native plant in eastern North America. Its natural habitat is in woodland areas, where it is shaded by trees. This shrub sports glossy evergreen leaves and produces showy clusters of flowers in late spring. Cultivars have been developed just for use in the landscape, including the dwarf Minuet laurel, which has more vibrant flowers than those on wild mountain laurels.

  • 02 of 30
    Kerria shrub
    Koichi Oda/flickr CC 2.0

    Among deciduous shrubs, Japanese rose (Kerria japonica) is one of the most shade-tolerant and will do better than survive in shade; it will thrive. Japanese rose furnishes a good display of flowers in partial shade.

  • 03 of 30
    Climbing hydrangea
    muffinn/flickr CC 2.0

    As their name suggests, climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris) are vines, but they can be trimmed and maintained as if they were shrubs. While they tolerate shaded areas, they tend to yield better flowering displays when exposed to a reasonable amount of sunlight. Peeling bark on their stems provides winter interest.

  • 04 of 30
    Picture of daphne with its white flowers.
    David Beaulieu

    As with climbing hydrangeas, the blooming of Carol Mackie daphne shrubs may be enhanced if the plants receive sufficient sunlight. But this fact is hardly problematic, as these plants are worth growing for their variegated leaves alone. Their flowers are also noteworthy, especially because they are wonderfully aromatic.

    Continue to 5 of 30 below.
  • 05 of 30
    Emerald and Gold euonymus
    Gary J. Wood/flickr CC 2.0

    Emerald and Gold euonymus is another bush with bi-colored leaves; in this case, the name tells you exactly what those two colors are. The gold color gets brighter with sun exposure, but this plant is plenty attractive in shade.

    There are many kinds of euonymus. One is quite notorious as an invasive plant and is called, in common parlance, "burning bush." While this is a shrub that grows in shade, lack of sufficient sunlight may rob it of its primary selling point: its fall color.

  • 06 of 30
    Japanese holly photo of 'Hetzii.'
    David Beaulieu

    One of two popular shade-tolerant Japanese hollies (Ilex crenata), the hetz holly has smaller leaves than the American and English hollies, giving it the nickname "box-leaved." Its berries are black, unlike the familiar red berries on other hollies.

  • 07 of 30
    Llex crenata 'Sky Pencil,' a narrow, columnar bush
    David Beaulieu

    Sky Pencil holly is a variety of Japanese holly with a distinctive tall, columnar shape. You can't miss this "architectural plant." And once you have identified it, you will never forget it.

  • 08 of 30
    Hemlock shrubs in picture flank a driveway entrance function as privacy screen.
    David Beaulieu

    A type of needled evergreen (as opposed to a broadleaf), hemlocks can be trimmed so as to promote the development of dense foliage, making them great for privacy screens. The shrub cultivars make terrific hedges.

    Continue to 9 of 30 below.
  • 09 of 30
    Yew shrub
    Colin Varndell/Getty Images

    Yews are somewhat notorious for being poisonous plants, but unless you have children or pets that will be grazing outside, this shouldn't be a major drawback. On a lighter note, yews are one of the plants used in Christmas traditions.

    These needled evergreens are valued for their showy red berries and as shrubs that grow in shade. Some people find them boring or overused, but the versatility of these tough bushes makes their case for them. Common plants are common for a reason; do not hold...MORE their popularity against them.

  • 10 of 30

    Andromeda

    Andromeda shrubs
    Helmut Meyer zur Capellen/Getty Images

    This shade-tolerant bush offers the best of both worlds, in terms of being not only a flowering shrub but also an evergreen. Andromeda shrubs (Pieris japonica) may offer something else, too: fragrant flowers. Some people find their smell offensive, while others find it pleasing. If you dislike strong flower aromas, you may land in the former group.

  • 11 of 30

    African Scurf Pea

    African Scurf Pea
     Rebecca Johnson/Getty Images

    African scurf pea (Psoralea pinnata) is a medium-size shrub that produces lilac-blue flowers that may remind you of sweet pea. It is nicknamed "Kool-Aid bush" because the fragrance can be reminiscent of grape Kool-Aid. The leaves look something like rosemary, and you can train it into a small tree.

  • 12 of 30

    Alder-Leaved Serviceberry

    Alder-Leaved Serviceberry
    F. D. Richards/Flickr/CC 2.0

    Alder-leaved serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) has clusters of white flowers in spring. It grows in full sun to part shade and produces edible purple-blue fruit.

    Continue to 13 of 30 below.
  • 13 of 30

    Alpine Currant

    Alpine Currant
    Wikimedia Commons

    Alpine currant (Ribes alpinum) will grow in full sun to full shade (in USDA zones 2–7). You will need both male and female plants for it to produce fruit.

  • 14 of 30

    Aucuba

    Aucuba
    Wikimedia Commons

    Aucuba japonica is also called spotted laurel and is valued for its colorful leaves. If you have both male and female plants it will produce red berries in the fall. However, it is poisonous, so it's not the best choice for everyone.

  • 15 of 30

    Azalea and Rhododendron

    Rhododendron
    Wikimedia Commons

    Several different species of Rhododendron produce beautiful spring blooms in various brilliant shades. They include both evergreen and deciduous varieties and can grow in many different climates. They like acidic soil and do best in partial shade, although some varieties can handle full shade.

  • 16 of 30

    California Sweetshrub

    California Sweeschrub
    Wikimedia Commons

    Calycanthus occidentalis has a deep red flower, and you may find it produces the fragrance of red wine. It will grow in full sun to full shade but needs moist soil and won't tolerate drought.

    Continue to 17 of 30 below.
  • 17 of 30

    Camellia or Tea Plant

    Camellia
     Linda Burgess/Getty Images

    Camellia sinensis is also known as tea plant. It can grow in full sun to partial shade. Its leaves and twigs can be used for tea.

  • 18 of 30

    Canadian Bunchberry

    Canadian Bunchberry
    Wikimedia Commons

    Cornus canadensis is a subshrub that you can use as a groundcover. It produces blossoms that give it nicknames such as "creeping dogwood" and "bunchberry dogwood."

  • 19 of 30

    Checkerberry

    Checkerberry
    InAweofGod'sCreation/Flickr/CC 2.0

    Gaultheria procumbens is also known as American wintergreen, as its leaves can produce a minty scent. It can be used as a groundcover in acidic soil.

  • 20 of 30

    Chinese Fringe-Flower

    Chinese Fringe-Flower
    Wikimedia Commons

    Loropetalum chinense is an evergreen shrub also known as Chinese witch hazel. It will grow in partial shade. Different varieties produce white, yellow, or red flowers.

    Continue to 21 of 30 below.
  • 21 of 30

    Coast Leucothoe

    Coast Leucothoe
    KENPEI/Wikimedia Commons/CC 2.0

    Leucothoe axillaris needs acidic soil to thrive and will grow in partial to full shade. It produces urn-shaped bunches of small white flowers.

  • 22 of 30

    Common Boxwood

    Common Boxwood
    Wikimedia Commons

    You'll recognize Buxus sempervirens as the evergreen shrub often used for hedges and topiaries.​ It does well in full sun to partial shade.

  • 23 of 30

    Common Witch Hazel

    Common Witch Hazel
    Wikimedia Commons

    Witch hazelHamamelis virginiana, is a tall shrub that will add fall color to your garden. You can make extracts from the witch hazel shrub to harness the plant's astringent properties.

  • 24 of 30

    Dwarf Fothergilla

    Dwarf Fothergilla
    Wikimedia Commons

    Dwarf fothergillaFothergilla gardenia, grows happily in full sun to full shade. It's known for its fluffy white flowers in spring and its fall leaf colors.

    Continue to 25 of 30 below.
  • 25 of 30

    Red Buckeye

    Red Buckeye
    Wikimedia Commons

    You can attract hummingbirds with buckeyeAesculus pavia, also known as the firecracker plant. It will grow in full sun or partial shade and can be maintained as a shrub or a tree.

  • 26 of 30

    Red Tip Photinia

    Red Tip Photinia
    Wikimedia Commons

    The red tip photinia (Photinia x fraseri) is an evergreen shrub that produces young red leaves, while its older leaves are green. It also produces white flowers in spring and can grow into a tall hedge.

  • 27 of 30

    Skimmia

    Skimmia
    Wikimedia Commons

    Japanese skimmia, or Skimmia japonica, will produce red or white fruit if you have both a male and a female.

  • 28 of 30

    Toyon

    Toyon
    Wikimedia Commons

    This is the shrub that gave Hollywood its name.​ Heteromeles arbutifolia is native to California and has small white flowers that produce red berries.

    Continue to 29 of 30 below.
  • 29 of 30

    Tree Peony

    Tree Peony
    Wikimedia Commons

    The Paeonia suffruticosa shrub can produce very large flowers in different shades from white to pink, red, or purple. It needs regular watering.

  • 30 of 30

    Viburnum

    Viburnum
    Wikimedia Commons

    Different species of viburnum can give your garden color in multiple seasons, not only with flowers but also with their leaves and fruit.