Many varieties of evergreens are suitable for growing in shady conditions. Many of these are found in nature as understory trees growing in coniferous or deciduous forests. Because they evolved in lower light situations, they are ideal for cultivation in shady areas in cultivated landscapes, such as the shade of buildings or established deciduous or evergreen trees.
This variety of fir is most commonly grown for Christmas trees in North America. Balsam fir grows in soil types from silt to stony loams. It is happiest growing in cool, moist climates that enjoy more than 30-inches of rainfall per year. Balsam fir is very susceptible to fire. Widely grown for wreath-making boughs and Christmas trees, Balsam fir is most often harvested for these uses when it is three to four years old.
Not a true fir but rather a member of the Pseudotsuga genus, the Douglas fir has long pointed buds and cones with a papery-like bract that sticks out between the scales. It is native to North America and is the second-largest growing tree in the world, behind coastal redwoods. Although it grows well in shade, the Douglas fir grows best in the maritime climates of the Pacific Northwest and northern California. It requires rich, moist and well-drained, deep loamy soils that are acidic on the lower end of the pH scale.
The Japanese yew is the hardiest variety of yew, but all varieties of yew grow well in shady areas. They grow best in soil that is well-drained but moist. Yews should be planted in a location which will protect them from direct sunlight and strong winds in winter as they are susceptible to bark scald. This occurs during winter when the bark is heated up by direct sunlight, only to be plunged into sub-freezing temperatures when the sun goes behind a cloud or building.
The Canada yew is native to North America and grows on rocky bluffs and moist wooded slopes. They grow as the understory in conifer or northern broadleaf forests. Although they are winter hardy, they are susceptible to harsh winter winds. They need fertile soil that has excellent drainage, but is consistently moist. Yews grow well in shade but can also thrive in full sun.