Deciduous Shrubs for Shade

Gardeners face different situations that call for specific types of plants. All plants need sun--with the exception of fungi, like mushrooms--some just need more than others. Finding shrubs that grow in various degrees of shade is one situation that is easy to fix with deciduous shrubs that can be planted in almost every part of the country.

Japanese Kerria

Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica) is a member of the rose family that grows up to 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The plant produces medium-green leaves that turn dark green and then chartreuse in the fall, dropping off in November. The bright yellow flowers bloom in April and May and are followed by small, brown fruit. Plant Japanese kerria in full shade and a soil that is moist and well drained and in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 9.

Large Fothergilla

Large fothergilla (Fothergilla major) is also known as witch-alder and large witch-alder. The shrub grows from 6 to 10 feet tall and almost as wide. The dark green leaves are almost round, grow from 3 to 5 inches long and turn red, orange and yellow in the fall. The small white-pink flowers grow in clusters 1 to 2 inches long and produce a honey-like fragrance. Plant large fothergilla in partial shade and a soil that is acidic, rich and moist. The plant is hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 8.


Leatherwood (Dirca palustris) is also known as wicopy and ropebark. The shrub only grows as tall as 8 feet at the maximum. The stems are so soft, they can be tied in knots, giving the plant the name leatherwood. Ropebark comes from the fact that the bark can be woven into twine. The plant produces elliptic-shaped green leaves from 2 to 3 inches long that turn yellow in the fall. The small, pale yellow flowers bloom in late winter or early spring before the leaves make their appearance and give way to small, green-yellow berries. Plant leatherwood in full shade and soil that is rich and moist, but not wet. The shrub is hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 9.

Shrubby St. Johnswort

Shrubby St. Johnswort (Hypericum prolificum L.) grows up to 3 feet tall with red to purple bark. The leaves are dark-green to blue-green and turn a yellow-green in the fall. The large, yellow flowers grow either as single blooms or in clusters in June, July and August and are followed by small, dry fruit that lasts through the winter. Plant shrubby St. Johnswort in partial or full shade and a soil that is moist to dry in USDA Zones 3 through 9.

Keywords: shade shrubs, Japanese kerria, large fothergilla, leatherwood, shrubby St. Johnswort

About this Author

Regina Sass has been a writer for 10 years, penning articles for publications in the real estate and retail industries. Her online experience includes writing, advertising and editing for an educational website. Sass is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.