Shrubs for Shade Conditions

Whether you have a lot of shade in the yard or just have trees blocking the sun in a certain area, you want plants that you know will grow. Although all plants must have some sun in order to survive, there are shrubs for shade conditions that not only require less sun, but actually seem to prefer it.

Common Boxwood

A wide-spreading shrub that can be trained to grow as a tree, the common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) grows as tall and wide as 12 to 15 feet. It has 1- to 1 ½-inch-long small dark green leaves and is often used as edging or privacy screens. It is also a popular plant for topiaries, since it can easily be pruned into many interesting shapes. The boxwood prefers partial shade and likes slightly alkaline, well-drained soil. It thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 8.


The inkberry (Ilex glabra) is an evergreen shrub that grows 6 to 12 feet tall and has dark green, egg-shaped leaves that are 1½ inch long. When the inkberry is not pruned, it can become quite wide by growing root suckers that spread out to form colonies. A member of the holly family, the inkberry blooms with small greenish-white flowers in spring that give way to small black berries in the fall. Interestingly, the inkberry has male and female parts. It has excellent shade tolerance, but prefers full sun or part shade. The inkberry does best in rich, moist soil and is an excellent choice for use as a low maintenance shrub or privacy hedge. It thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9.

Heavenly Bamboo Nandina

The Heavenly Bamboo nandina (Nandina domestica) is not a member of the bamboo family. Instead, the term bamboo refers to the shrub's cane-like stalks. The nandina grows 6 to 8 feet tall and is considered an evergreen, and it does not like temperatures below 10 degrees F. When this occurs, the nandina may drop its leaves, but they will return in the spring. It produces pinkish-white flowers in early spring to summer, but the shrub really stands out in the fall when its foliage turns red. The nandina likes the sun, but does well in part shade. It thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 8.

Keywords: shade shrubs, shrubs, landscaping shrubs

About this Author

Kate Hornsby has been a professional pet sitter for a number of years and a small business owner for over twenty. She is the current Atlanta Pets Examiner and has written several articles on pet care and operating a small business. Hornsby attended the Academy of Art online, studying Interior Architecture and Design while pursuing commercial flight training at Aviation Atlanta in Georgia.