The Best Flowering Shrubs for Heavy Shade

Showy, flowering shrubs can add interest to the landscape all year round. Flowering shrubs can be used to create privacy borders or hedges or to accent entryways or other architectural features. Although most shrubs prefer full sunlight, some flowering shrubs that will thrive in shady conditions. Once established, most flowering shrubs will live for many years with little maintenance.

Fothergilla (Witch Alder)

Fothergilla, or witch alder, is a slow-growing but long-lived compact shrub with a pleasant, rounded shape that will reach heights of 2 to 3 feet. In spring, fothergilla will burst forth with sweet-smelling, creamy white blooms that resemble bottle brushes, and in autumn, the foliage will turn eye-catching shades of bright red, orange and yellow. Fothergilla will thrive in shady, moist locations, and does well in dappled sunlight under tall trees.

Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)

Red chokeberry is a shade-loving deciduous shrub that will provide interest to the landscape all year. Although red chokeberry sports tiny, white blooms in late spring, it's the foliage that makes chokeberry a show stopper, starting in summer when the leaves will be shiny, dark green with furry, grey undersides. In autumn, the leaves turn bright red, and then darken to a deep purple. Bright red ornamental berries appear in summer, and last through fall and into winter. Red chokeberry is a medium-sized shrub, and will grow to 6 to 8 feet at maturity.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf hydrangea is a familiar shrub, favored because of the huge, round, creamy flowers that bloom in mid-summer. Oakleaf hydrangea is properly named for its large, showy, oak-shaped leaves that turn orange, burgundy, yellow or red in autumn. Oakleaf hydrangea does well in dappled shade under taller trees such as oak or beech, but it won't tolerate soggy soil, which can cause root rot very quickly. Most varieties of oakleaf hydrangea will grow to 6 to 8 feet.

Oregon Grape

Oregon grape is an evergreen shrub with vibrant, dark-green leaves that look much like holly. In winter, the foliage turns a deep maroon, and in early spring, Oregon grape will surprise you with fragrant, bright yellow blooms that will be replaced by clusters of shiny, blue fruit in early summer. At maturity, Oregon grape will reach 4 to 6 feet in height. Oregon grape is a hardy shrub that does well in any soil, and is disease- and pest-resistant.

Chinese Witch Hazel

Chinese witch hazel makes a bold statement in late winter when it explodes with clusters of long-lasting, bright yellow blooms. The foliage of the Chinese witch hazel turns shades of soft green in spring, becoming a rosy pinkish-yellow in autumn. Even the silvery bark of Chinese witch hazel is lovely. Chinese witch hazel is a tall shrub that can reach heights of 15 feet. It is a sturdy, drought-tolerant shrub, but it grows best in moist, well-drained soil.

Keywords: flowering shrubs, shrubs, oakleaf hydrangea

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.