Small Shade Tolerant Trees

Choose from evergreen or deciduous and large, showy flowers or flowers that are small and inconspicuous when picking a tree for a shady area. Small shade tolerant trees fit in where large trees would try to take over the landscape. Plant small trees in the shade of tall ones where they add a splash of a different color or near a patio where the shade is created by the awning. The tree will appreciate the shade and contribute a bit of its own.

English Laurel

English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) is a member of the rose family. It's a native of Asia minor and hardy in USDA zones 6 to 8. The tree grows from 10 to 18 feet tall with a spread of 25 to 30 feet. Dark-green, evergreen leaves grow from 2 to 6 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide. White flowers grow in clusters 2 to 5 inches long, blooming in April and producing small, black fruits. Plant English laurel in full sun or partial shade and a moist, organic, well-drained soil.

Ballerina Loebner Magnolia

Ballerina loebner magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri "Ballerina") grows in USDA zones 5 to 9. The tree reaches a height of 15 to 20 feet with an equal spread. Flowers are white with an accent of pink, star-shaped, 4 to 6 inches wide and bloom in April. Ballerina loebner magnolia likes full sun or partial shade and a loam soil that is organic, rich and well-drained.

Japanese Yew

Japanese yew (Podocarpus macrophylla) is hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10. The tree grows upright or in an oval shape from 20 to 40 feet tall with dark-green, flat leaves that resemble the needles on a pine tree. Cones on the male trees produce pollen. Cones on the female trees produce blue seeds. Plant Japanese yew in full shade to full sun and a soil that is fertile, moist and well-drained.

Kousa Dogwood

Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is also known as Japanese dogwood or Chinese dogwood. The tree is deciduous and grows up to 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Give the tree full sun or partial shade and a moist, well-drained, acidic soil. The tree produces medium to dark green elliptic leaves measuring up to 3 inches long. Plant the tree in sun and the leaves turn red-purple in the fall. Plant in partial shade and the color will be green to chartreuse. Flowers with four white, egg-shaped petals and a yellow-green center measure 3 inches wide and bloom in June and early July. The flowers are followed by green fruits that turn pink and finally red as they mature. Kousa dogwood is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8. Birds and squirrels will make a meal out of the fruits.

Keywords: shade gardens, trees for shade, shade plants

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.