7 Shade Loving Shrubs And Bushes To Plant Under Trees

Not all landscapes are in full sun all day, most of them have both sunny and shady spots. We tend to plant flowers and bushes in the sunny locations and leave the shady spots bare or use them for recreation.

Some bushes thrive in the shade and will make a great addition to those shady areas of your landscape. Some shade loving shrubs and bushes produce colorful berries, some produce flowers, and others are evergreen but all will add interest to a forgotten shady spot in your yard.

Check out these shade loving shrubs and bushes to discover which one is right for your landscape.

Degrees of Shade

There are varying degrees of shade and before selecting a bush you should observe the location to determine how much shade the location is in. There’s full shade, partial shade, and dappled sunlight, and the right bush must be matched with the right location for it to thrive.

A full shade area receives no direct sunlight and is usually located under trees or on the north side of a building. Partial shade is a location that receives two hours or less of direct sunlight each day. Dappled sunlight in a shady area that has sunlight penetrating through trees or bush leaves.

Sunlight can be increased in some locations if you have your heart set on planting a bush that needs a little more sunlight than the location offers. If the shady location is under or near a tree or other bush, prune off some of the lower branches so the area will be brighter.

If there is a wall or fence adjacent to the shady location, paint it white so it will reflect the sunlight and make the area brighter. These tricks will allow a partial shade loving shrub and bush to thrive in a full shade location.

List Of Shade Loving Shrubs And Bushes


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The Azalea is a spring-blooming beauty that comes in a wide range of bloom colors.  Dappled sunlight under the canopy of a tree is ideal for these small bushes. Work compost into the soil before planting to ensure the soil drains well, which is another must for azaleas to thrive.

These bushes have shallow roots and must not be planted too deep into the soil. They also prefer moist, slightly acidic soil. Mature bush will be 3-4 feet tall and wide. Next year’s bloom buds are set immediately after the bush finishes blooming this year, so prune as soon as azalea blooms begin to fade.

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Camellia plant is evergreen bushes that bloom when most other plants are dormant. This shade loving flowering shrub, evergreen bushes produce their fragrant rose-like blooms in the late fall and winter and can be a real show-stopper in the wintery landscape.

It grows best in partial shade and thrives under the canopy of tall trees or on the north side of a building. This evergreen shrub does need some sun to produce blooms, but it despises direct morning and late afternoon sun. This winter-flowering bush also needs protection from strong winds and thrives when planted under taller shrubs and trees.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea thrives in the shade but will tolerate morning sun. This is a native bush that is hardy and will reach a mature size of 10 feet wide and equally as tall if left un-pruned. The large green leaves are shaped like those on an oak tree and will change from bright green in summer to stunning red, purple, burgundy and bronze in fall, and its white flowers take on a pinkish tinge as they mature. Give the oakleaf hydrangea plenty of shade and lots of water and it will live for decades.

Mountain Laurel

This plant is an ‘understory’ bush, meaning it grows best when planted under taller trees. Mountain laurel is native to wooded areas that are near water and can often be found growing in the near mountain streams where the tree canopy is thick.

It is an evergreen bush that produces white or pink blooms in the spring that attracts hummingbirds and other spring pollinators. A mature mountain laurel will be 8-10 feet tall and equally as wide.


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If you want a flowering evergreen bush that thrives in the partial shade then choose the Rhododendron. This shade loving bush is a close relative of the azalea but it grows larger, up to 6 feet tall and wide when mature.

Rhododendrons are also drought-tolerant and will live for several decades under the right conditions.


It produces fragrant white flowers in the spring and colorful foliage and berries in the fall when grown in partial shade. Viburnum bushes can be evergreen, semi-evergreen or deciduous depending on the variety planted. Mature size can range from 3 feet to 20 feet and are hardy in cold climates.

Virginia Sweetspire

The Virginia Sweetspire is one of the shade loving shrubs is ideal for growing in full shade and moist soil. This bush produces stems of fragrant white flowers that droop down to create a cascading appearance. This shade loving shrub will reach a mature size of 3 feet wide and equally as tall.

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