What Trees Grow Best in the Shade?

If a location gets at least six hours of sunshine a day, it is considered full sun. If it gets at least six hours of shade a day, it is considered partial shade, and if it gets no direct sunshine during the growing season, it is considered full shade. Getting the right plants, including trees, for each condition is important to keep the plants healthy and enable them to reach their full height and flower or fruit production.

Blue Beech

Blue beech, otherwise known as musclewood or American hornbeam, is a shade-tolerant hardwood tree. The trunk has a blue/gray bark and can grow up to 2 feet in diameter. The tree can grow to from 20 to 40 feet tall. The leaves are from 2 to 4 inches long, and from 1 to 2 inches wide with toothed edges. In the fall, the leaves turn to yellow, orange, red and purple. Flowers appear from April through May. Blue beech trees require well-drained soil, and will not stand up to a flooding situation. The tree is found in the Eastern United States, as far north as Quebec, Canada and as far west as the Mississippi, from Minnesota to Texas (planting zones 3 to 9). It can be grown as a specimen plant, as part of a hedge or in a grouping.

Southern Magnolia

Southern Magnolia can be grown in partial shade. The tree can grow from 60 to 90 feet tall and the trunk can grow 2 to 3 feet in diameter. The evergreen leaves are dark green on the top and a rust color underneath, and can grow to from 5 to 8 inches long. The tree produces white, fragrant flowers in the spring and summer that can be from 8 to 12 inches in diameter. The tree also produces fruit that is reddish brown in color, 2 to 4 inches in length and has red kidney-shaped seeds. Southern Magnolia is native to the Coastal Plain region, from North Carolina to central Florida and as far west as eastern Texas (planting zones 7 to 9). It is drought-tolerant and likes rich, well-drained, acidic soils. It is used as a curbside tree, specimen tree or a shade tree.

Western Hemlock

Western hemlock is an evergreen with flattened, single needles that only measure from 1/4 to 3/4 inches long and are yellow green to green in color. It can grow in both shady and sunny conditions. The tree produces numerous small cones that are reddish brown in color. It has a very thin bark that can be brown or black. It is also one of the largest trees, reaching a height of 100 to 200 feet when at full maturity. Western hemlock can be grow all across the country and is native to southern Alaska and California. It can be grown as a specimen plant or in groupings.

Keywords: Blue Beech, Southern Magnolia, Western Hemlock

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.