Shade tolerant shrubs make a good choice for privacy plants. Some grow taller than any fence and are used for privacy plants between properties. Some grow shorter and are used as privacy plants in front of windows or around patios. Privacy plants are available all over the country, provide a background for other, shorter plants and some add their own splash of color with unusual flowers, leaves that change color and fruits and nuts.
Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) is also known as sweetshrub, strawberry shrub and pineapple shrub. The plant is a deciduous shrub that grows to eight feet tall and sends out suckers that increase the width of one plant to that of a thicket.
The plant produces red or brown fruity scented flowers that measure from one to two inches across and bloom from spring through summer. The leaves are oblong and grow to four inches long and two inches wide. The leaves are deep green, the undersides are lighter, turn yellow in the fall are soft and fuzzy. It is native from Virginia to Florida and as far west as Mississippi. It is hardy in the southern zones five through nine and likes medium shade to sunny conditions.
Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) is another shrub that will spread and form new plants with suckers. It will grow from eight to 12 feet tall with a spread of eight to 15 feet. It produces leaves that grow from three to eight inches long that start out bronze in the early spring and turn to green in the summer and then yellow in the fall. The white cone-shaped flowers grow on 8- to 12-inch long stems and have the appearance of a brush that is used to clean out a bottle. It also produces a brown fruit that is from one to three inches long. The plant is native to part of Georgia and Alabama and is hardy in zones four though eight--all but the one coldest and the two hottest zones in the continuous United States. It does best in partial shade--three to six hours of sunshine a day--and a moist, but well-drained soil.
Red Chokecherry (Photinia pyrifolia) grows to 6 to 12 feet tall and produces clusters of white flowers in the spring which are followed by dark green glossy leaves that turn to a red-orange in the fall. The plant also produces bright red pear-shaped berries that last until December or January. It likes partial shade and moist to wet soils. Its native habitat is in bottomlands, swamps and open bogs. It is hardy from southern Canada to Alabama and as far west as Texas.