Partial shade areas change throughout the years as trees and shrubs reach their mature sizes. It can also change each day and hour. Some areas of part shade actually receive full sun exposure for part of the day as the sun moves through the sky. The protection from the sun and wind decreases the loss of water for many plants growing in partial shade. The biggest downfall for these areas is the competition from tree and shrub roots for water and nutrients in the soil.
Dahoon holly (Ilex cassine) is an evergreen tree that is adaptable to a wide variety of soil types. This shrubby tree reaches 20 to 30 feet tall when mature and the branches spread 10 to 15 feet wide. The leaves are shiny green and about 1 inch long. Dahoon holly produces clusters of small red and yellow fruit. It is a tree that tolerates coastal areas.
Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) forms dense green mats of 2 to 4 inch long, oval leaves. The leaves resemble a shiny strawberry plant leaf. Pachysandra grows slowly and eventually reaches the height of 6 to 12 inches. In spring, fragrant white flowers cover this low-growing evergreen. Pachysandra spreads through underground runners. The cultivar Variegata produces green leaves with creamy edges.
Small Anise Tree
Small anise tree (Illicum parviflorum) grows 7 to 10 feet tall and spreads 8 to 10 feet wide when fully grown. This evergreen shrub forms an upright pyramid of olive-green, 2 to 4 inch long fragrant leaves. Non-fragrant yellow-green flowers appear in the first part of the summer. The small anise tree thrives in nearly every soil type including heavy clay. This shrub is tolerant of arid conditions.
Western Red Cedar
Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) is a rapidly growing evergreen tree that grows in a natural pyramid shape. This tree has a rumpled-look to its green foliage and keeps its color all winter long. Western red cedar grows 50 to 80 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide. This evergreen tree produces 1/2 inch cones. The bark is cinnamon red in color and shreds off the trunk in fibrous strips. This cedar tree variety cannot tolerate exposure to salt.