Trees & Bushes That Grow in Shade

Shade-loving bushes and trees provide splashes of color to much-needed areas of a shady garden. Grown in dozens of varieties, shade-tolerant plants oftentimes require moist, well-drained soils to flourish. Some shade bushes and trees are evergreen, meaning they retain their color and foliage all year long, even in the gray, winter months. Planted along a garden wall, shade-loving bushes and trees are a colorful respite for a dark spot in the garden.


Camellia (Camellia japonica), a shade-loving evergreen shrub has a slow to moderate growth rate and medium texture. The upright, pyramidal form is dense with a formal shape. Camellia bushes, ideal as a focal point in a garden, grow 8 to 15 feet tall and 5 to 10 feet wide. The bright flowers on camellia shrubs grow in a wide range of colors including, pink, white, red and rose. Growing 3 to 5 inches wide, camellia blooms are double to semi-double in form, sitting atop the dark-green, leather-like foliage. The oblong-shaped leaves on camellia bushes grow 2 to 4 inches long and keep their color all year round, including winter. Camellia shrubs require well-drained, acidic soil that is moist and nutrient-laden. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones for planting are 7 to 9.

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is a deciduous tree with a moderate to slow growth rate. The semi-rounded top on the flowering dogwood tree has low branches that give the tree a layered look among the landscape. Flowering dogwood trees grow 15 to 30 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide, creating a commanding landscape presence. The white flowers on flowering dogwood trees emerge in April to light up the landscape with color. In winter, the bright red berries emerge to once again fill the garden with color. Flowering dogwood trees have simple green leaves that grow up to 4 inches long. Flowering dogwood trees require moist, well-drained soils to thrive. The zones for planting this dogwood are 5 to 9.

Swamp Azalea

Swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) is a deciduous, late-spring-blooming shrub that requires full shade. Growing 6 to 10 feet tall and wide, swamp azalea have an open, loose habit and showy flowers. The fragrant, white funnel-shaped flowers on the swamp azalea shrub slowly diffuse to pink for a burst of color in a shaded garden. Swamp azalea bushes require moist, nutrient-rich soil that is slightly acidic with a pH range of 4.5 to 5.5. Plant the swamp azalea in a shallow planting site and cover with mulch to help the bush retain its moisture. The zones for planting are 4 to 9.

Keywords: shade trees, shade bushes, camellia shrub, flowering dogwood, swamp azalea

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer, designer and photographer in North Carolina. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate your indoor and outdoor living environment. Her articles have appeared in and and her photography has been featured in "Automotive News" magazine and