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Shrubs for Partial Shade

By S.F. Heron ; Updated September 21, 2017

Shrubs beautify the landscape with hardy plants that serve as anchors for flower gardens. They can also stand alone to enhance bare sections of the landscape. A balanced landscape includes some shrubs that provide interesting foliage to soften the bright colors of perennial and annual flowers.

Shrubs serve the function of protecting tree roots in shade areas and functioning as a privacy hedge. Shrubs for partial shade include those plants that tolerate reduced sun availability and feature colorful flowers or foliage.

Common Ninebark

Common ninebark offers the home landscaper a moderately sized shrub that blooms in late spring. This partial shade shrub can reach heights of 10 feet and prefers a partial sun environment. Gardeners prize common ninebark for its interesting color foliage. Cultivars include Diablo and Seward, which feature purple leaves and pink flowers.

Dart's Gold has yellowish-gold-colored foliage that turns a greenish hue as season progresses. Common ninebark prefers well-drained, moist soil and grows readily in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 6. Prune ninebark annually to help retain shape and health of the plant.


Serviceberry produces gorgeous foliage and small white flowers resembling thin pinwheels. Flowers bloom in bunches around the plant, making the serviceberry an elegant addition to the landscape with its dainty blooms. Serviceberry produces a round berry that ripens in mid-summer and can be eaten by humans. This deciduous shrub can grow very large and reach tree size if left unchecked.

Serviceberry, like all shrubs, benefits from regular pruning to control shape and growth. Apple and Allegheny serviceberry are hardy in zones 4-9 and look beautiful when groomed into a tree shape in the home landscape.

Burning Bush

Some shrubs create such stunning foliage that fruit and flowers aren't required. The dramatic burning bush features foliage that turns bright red in the fall. Burning bush grows well in zones 4 to 8 and can reach a mature height of up to 12 feet. The truly magnificent foliage remains green through the warm months and features small berry fruit in the early autumn.

Burning bush grows well in partial sun with well-drained soil. This plant stands alone beautifully or provides impact when planted as a privacy screen. Thin plants annually, but do not hedge them flat, to encourage abundant foliage.

Bigleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea often serves as a floral mainstay in the home landscape. These plants produce large, ball-shaped clusters of flowers in many hues of pink, blue and purple. Bigleaf hydrangea feature large leaves providing a handsome foliage addition to the landscape. Plants can grow up to 6 feet wide and tall so allow plenty of room for mature size.

Hydrangea prefer partial shade planting sites and can be forced to produce blue flowers by increasing soil acidity. Bigleaf hydrangea grows well in zones 6 to 9. Flowers produce on the previous growing season's wood, so schedule pruning sessions carefully to prevent limited blooms.