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Hardy Shrubs for Shade

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017

Gardeners with shady yards don't have to limit themselves to planting evergreens; many shade-hardy shrubs produce flowers, winter berries or offer visual interest throughout the year. Hardy shade shrubs need little maintenance, aside from occasional pruning to shape the plant. These shrubs can grow in small yards or underneath larger trees that cast shade.


Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) offers visual interest in the winter with bright red berries that emerge after the leaves fall off, and averages 5 to 10 feet in height and width. Winterberry grows well throughout the United States, except in subtropical areas like southern Texas or Florida. The leaves have jagged edges and are ovoid-shaped. This shrub can tolerate wet, boggy soils and prefers acidic soils, making it a good choice for wet areas, but a poor choice for locations prone to drought.

Bottlebrush Buckeye

Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) can grow up to 12 feet high and 15 feet wide and performs well in the shade. This shrub prefers acidic soil. In the late summer, the shrub develops long white flowers. The plant's leaves are light-green, elongated ovals with deep veins; in the fall, they turn yellow-green or yellow.

Common Juniper

Common juniper (Juniperis communis) grows throughout the northern United States and Canada. While this tends to be a low creeping shrub, it can grow into an upright shrub. The plant's needles are tiny and greenish-blue. This juniper develops grayish blue berries.

Arrowwood Viburnum

Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) offers visual interest for most of the year and grows well in shade. The shrub features tiny, white flower clusters in the springtime that give way to small, blue berries in the late spring. In autumn, the plant's leaves turn red. This shrub averages 6 to 12 feet in both height and width. Arrowwood viburnum tolerates both slightly wet and slightly dry environments and prefers acidic soil.


About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.