Hardy Shrubs for Shade

Gardeners with shady yards don't have to limit themselves to planting evergreens; many shade-hardy shrubs produce flowers, winter berries or offer visual interest throughout the year. Hardy shade shrubs need little maintenance, aside from occasional pruning to shape the plant. These shrubs can grow in small yards or underneath larger trees that cast shade.


Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) offers visual interest in the winter with bright red berries that emerge after the leaves fall off, and averages 5 to 10 feet in height and width. Winterberry grows well throughout the United States, except in subtropical areas like southern Texas or Florida. The leaves have jagged edges and are ovoid-shaped. This shrub can tolerate wet, boggy soils and prefers acidic soils, making it a good choice for wet areas, but a poor choice for locations prone to drought.

Bottlebrush Buckeye

Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) can grow up to 12 feet high and 15 feet wide and performs well in the shade. This shrub prefers acidic soil. In the late summer, the shrub develops long white flowers. The plant's leaves are light-green, elongated ovals with deep veins; in the fall, they turn yellow-green or yellow.

Common Juniper

Common juniper (Juniperis communis) grows throughout the northern United States and Canada. While this tends to be a low creeping shrub, it can grow into an upright shrub. The plant's needles are tiny and greenish-blue. This juniper develops grayish blue berries.

Arrowwood Viburnum

Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) offers visual interest for most of the year and grows well in shade. The shrub features tiny, white flower clusters in the springtime that give way to small, blue berries in the late spring. In autumn, the plant's leaves turn red. This shrub averages 6 to 12 feet in both height and width. Arrowwood viburnum tolerates both slightly wet and slightly dry environments and prefers acidic soil.

Keywords: shade gardens, shrubs, good shade shrubs

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Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.