How to Bloom Shrubs for Shade


Homeowners add shrubs to create texture and interest in the landscape. Shade shrubs spice up the often-neglected shady location of a property with interesting foliage and flowers. Shrubs bloom for a short period of time each year. Plants need light to produce blooms. As a result, shade shrubs often struggle in the reduced-light environment. Learning how to bloom shrubs for shade requires comprehensive year-round care to promote the best flowering conditions possible.

Step 1

Examine the light conditions in the shade location. All flowering plants require sunlight for bud and bloom production. Check the density of the shade to determine whether tree canopy thickness completely blocks out available sunlight. Prune the tree to allow filtered sunlight to reach the shrub to promote flower bud formation.

Step 2

Research the type of shrub and the fertilization requirements. Over-fertilization causes plants to produce more foliage than flowers. Strike a balance by learning everything you can about the shrub. Focus in particular on the correct time to apply fertilizer and the specific kind of nutrients needed for the plant.

Step 3

Prune immediately after the plant finishes flowering for the season. Shrubs often bloom on the previous year's wood. Pruning late in the season often removes flower buds that have already formed on existing branches. Give the shade shrub plenty of time throughout the summer growing season to prepare for next year's flower.

Step 4

Allow light to reach the plant's interior. Perform a type of pruning called thinning to reduce the foliage thickness on the plant. Thinning allows light to reach the interior of the plant to encourage branching and bud formation. Select randomly spaced branches to prune back to the main shrub trunk. Use pruning clippers for branches smaller than 1/2 inch in diameter and loppers for branches up to 2 inches thick. Make cuts flush with the adjoining branch or stem to limit the open wound size.

Step 5

Keep track of winter weather to determine if cold damage will affect flowering. Freezing temperature kill of flower and leaf buds. This damage isn't permanent but it will affect the amount of blooms the following season. Most shade shrubs have some protection from a structure or tree canopy. Don't overlook this possibility when trying to determine why a shrub doesn't bloom. Examine the garden area to determine if exposure to the dry air and wind during the winter may damage the shrub. Relocate if necessary to provide a protected location to limit winter damage to flower buds.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning clippers
  • Pruning loppers


  • University of Illinois: Failure of Trees and Shrubs to Bloom
  • Cornell University: Why Flowering Shrubs Fail to Bloom

Who Can Help

  • Shrubs
Keywords: blooming shade shrubs, shade shrub care, flowering shrub care

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.