Top 10 Shrubs for Shade

Don't let your shady yard stop you from having a lively landscape—jazz up your space with our list of the top 10 shrubs for shade!

What shrubs grow well in shade? When garden expert Melinda Myers told us this was one of the most frequent questions asked during her appearances, we knew it would make a great Top 10. In the past, we’ve had stories on shrubs and stories on shade, but we’ve never combined the two until now. With some guidance from Melinda and tips from Michael A. Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, we pulled together this stellar group of shrubs for shade. These recommendations should bring some life and color to the shadiest areas of your backyard.

Dogwood

(Cornus species, Zones 2 to 8)

While it steals the show in spring, this beauty has year-round appeal, sporting abundant foliage in summer, rich color in fall and berries in late fall and winter. The height varies greatly. For instance, the popular redtwig dogwood (C. alba) can be as low as 8 feet, while the flowering dogwood (C. florida) reaches tree heights of 20 to 40 feet!

Why we love it: Birds love it! No matter what your space, there’s a dogwood species for you. Ask your local nursery or extension office for the best suggestions.

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  1. Marna says

    I have two problem shady areas. One is deep shade in the back yard. But it’s dry shade, not damp shade. In the front of my house, the foundation is in shade most of the day but gets a couple of hours of sun in the afternoon., Again, dry shade. Any suggestions?

  2. Carmen says

    Looking for shade loving shrubbery that does not get too tall as It needs to frame a deck looking into a garden , any ideas would be appreciated

  3. Ralph D. Wilson II says

    I live in the San Antonio, TX, area. We are currently under Stage II water restrictions, so our yard is not getting much water (1 day a week for 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the evening). Also, our lot has a 22′ drop over the 220′ length of it with the front yard having the steepest portion of that drop.

    We have some live oak and juniper trees in our front yard that shade the area in front of our porch. We currently have rosemary bushes lining a dry stream bed that crosses our front yard but some of them are apparently getting too much shade and not enough water. We also have a raised bed thatis across the front of our porch (also “well shaded”.

    Can someone suggest some drought-hardy, heat tolerant (as in up to about 105F), shade tolerant plants that would fit into a “South Texas Xerescape” yard?

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