Shady locations play an important role in the landscape. Shade provides cooler temperatures and the ideal conditions for undergrowth plants, such as ferns and wild ginger. Perhaps one of the best places for hammocks and benches is under the branches of a tree. If neighboring trees or structures shade your yard, but you want to plant a tree of your own to enjoy the benefits, you can choose from several native Indiana trees that perform well in those conditions.
The eastern redbud graces Indiana with its prolific reddish purple blooms in early spring. Often used as an ornamental tree, the redbud (Cercis canadensis) makes an exceptional choice for any Indiana landscape because of its smaller size and undemanding requirements. The tree grows to 25 feet at a moderate pace. Pollinated primarily by bees, the redbud forms pod-shaped fruits that contain seeds that provide food for wildlife during the winter. The eastern redbud performs best in well-drained soil with minimal competition.
The red mulberry (Moras rubra) grows throughout the eastern and southeastern United States. Birds, squirrels and other wildlife rely on mulberries during the summer. The tree has a large range in size--some reach only 15 feet, while others grow to 70 feet. But typically, red mulberries thrive as an understory tree and tolerate shade well. The tree prefers well-drained, moist conditions in somewhat sheltered locations. Plant red mulberries away from the house or drive because they drop large quantities of dark berries and attract birds. Both may prove a nuisance on a car or walkway.
Known best for the syrup processed from the sap, sugar maples grow well in Indiana. The sugar maple (Acer saccharum) reaches 70 feet tall. The large tree grows slowly. People often plant sugar maples for their stunning fall display. The leaves turn bright orange and remain on the tree longer than many other species. The tree tolerates shade well and as a seedling thrives in it. The yellow flowers appear in early spring after. Sugar maples do not bloom until they reach approximately 22 years of age. They require loamy soil for optimal performance.