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Flowering Trees for Shade

By T.M. Samuels ; Updated September 21, 2017
Magnolias are one of the flowering trees for shade.
magnolia image by Andrzej Włodarczyk from Fotolia.com

Shady locations are not just for ferns and hostas, there are some wonderful choices of flowering trees that will thrive in the shade. Shade loving trees include magnolias among others. The choice of the right flowering tree for the shade location in your landscape will need to be based on your individual preferences and how much shade the spot actually receives.


From the olive family, the fringetree or Grancy Gray beard (Chionanthus virginicus) is a fragrant tree that is drought tolerant and an attractor of butterflies and songbirds. It grows 20 feet tall with dark green leaves and showy white spring flowers. It is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 through 10.

Plant the fringetree in moist well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade; it grows best in filtered shade. Propagate via cuttings or seed.

Carolina Silverbells

From the storax family, Carolina silverbells or just silverbells (Halesia spp.) is a wetland tree that attracts hummingbirds. It grows 30 feet high. The leaves are deciduous and 3 to 5 inches long. The white flowers are bell-like and three-quarter-inch long. Carolina silverbells is hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 8; two-wing silverbells is hardy in Zones 6 through 9.

Silverbells grow best in well-drained, moist soil with tolerances to full sun and shade conditions; they prefer slightly acidic soils. Propagate via seed, layering, or cuttings.

Yulan Magnolia

From the magnolia family, Yulan magnolia (Magnolia heptapeta) is a fragrant tree, which grows 40 feet tall. The leaves are deciduous and emerge in the spring. The flowers are fragrant, white blooms that are 5 to 6 inches wide. It is hardy in USDA Zones 6 through 9. The Yulan magnolia grows well in most soil types with tolerances for partial shade or sun conditions. Mulch the Yulan magnolia to make it thrive. Propagate via seed or layering.

Sweet Bay

From the magnolia family, sweet bay or silver bay (Magnolia virginiana) is a fragrant evergreen wetland tree. It grows 40 to 60 feet high on average with some trees reaching 75 feet. The leaves are silver-tinted on the undersides giving it its “silver bay” name. The white flowers are fragrant. Sweet bay is hardy in USDA Zones 6 through 9. Plant sweet bay in moist soils and partial shade. Propagate via transplants or seeds.


From the honeysuckle family, possom-haw or smooth witherod (Viburnum nudum) is a wetland tree that attracts songbirds. It grows 10 to 20 feet high. The leaves are dark green and 3 to 6 inches long. The white flowers are borne in cymes clustered 3 to 6 inches wide. It is hardy in USDA Zones 6 through 9. Possom-haw thrives in moist soils in shade from taller trees; however, it flowers and fruits best when it is grown in full sun. Propagate via shoots or seeds.


About the Author


T.M. Samuels has been a freelance writer since 1993. She has published works in "Arthritis Today," "Alabama Living" and "Mature Years," and is the author of a gardening book. Samuels studied pre-medicine at Berry College.