Everybody loves adding trees to their landscape; they look forward to their shade as they grow. The downfall is those shade trees often overtake previously planted flower beds leaving you with the task of redesigning with shade blooming shrubs.
Whether it’s from trees reaching maturity or the way your house faces, shade gardens require careful planning because not all shrubs do well with little to no sunlight.
One thing we noticed when looking into different shade-tolerant flowers, shrubs, and trees is there is a bigger selection of flowers than shade blooming shrubs. Most shade-loving shrubs present attractive foliage but lack colorful blooms.
With a little bit of work, we have a list of some of our favorite shade blooming shrubs for you to use in your shade garden. The best part is shrubs provide a splash of color to your darkened landscape from early spring until late fall; some even bloom in winter.
- Basic Care Tips for Showy Shrubs
- Fantastic Shade Blooming Shrubs for Your Garden Beds
- Showy Shade Blooming Shrubs – Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
- Azalea (Rhododendron)
- Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
- Opening Day Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum) – Shade Blooming Shrubs
- Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
- Camellia (Camellia japonica)
- Blooming Shade Shrubs – Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
- Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)
- Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
- Golden Rule St. John's Wort (Hypericum calycinum) – Blooming Shrubs for Shade
- Daphne (Daphne burkwoodii)
- Red-Twig Dogwood (Cornus alba)
- Shade Blooming Shrubs – Yew (Taxus baccata)
- Witch Hazel (Hamamelis spp.)
Basic Care Tips for Showy Shrubs
For those new to home landscaping, shrubs are plants with multiple woody stems that generally don’t die back during the winter as perennials do. Although some of our recommendations have long blooming periods, none of these specimens are shrubs that flower all year. There are two types of shrubs: deciduous and evergreen.
Deciduous ones lose their leaves during the autumn, while evergreens don’t. Some shrub families suggest evergreen and deciduous cultivators. Whenever possible, opt for shrubs native to your area.
Most gardeners find success with native shrubs because they don’t have to change things up too much, as they adapted to local soil and climate conditions already. Choose from fast growing shade shrubs or slow-growers or a mix of the two.
Other low-maintenance benefits include no extra watering, and they are naturally resistant to pests and diseases that affect your area. Sometimes you want to attract local wildlife, such as birds and pollinators, but you don’t want deer nibbling your ornamental shrubs.
Deer wreak all kinds of havoc on bushes, as they eat the foliage, fruit, and twigs. Each region has a list of deer-resistant shrubs native to the area, but there are specific features to look for in bushes to help deter the local wildlife.
Opt for shrubs with fuzzy or prickly leaves, as well as thorns on the twigs. Aromatic foliage and resinous wood also aid in deterring deer and rabbits.
Fantastic Shade Blooming Shrubs for Your Garden Beds
If you plan to landscape a shady area, use one of our favorite shade blooming shrubs to provide a burst of color. These bright blooms bring brightness and a pleasant fragrance to those hard to plant locations.
Be sure to note the care tag before planting to determine whether you are dealing with full shade plants or those that can handle partial sun.
Showy Shade Blooming Shrubs – Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
An evergreen shrub, Hydrangeas grow and adapt to all kinds of soil conditions. The large, showy white flowers turn a pinkish color once they mature. The bright green leaves of summer turn bronze, burgundy, red, and purple once the fall season arrives.
When choosing a planting location, select an area that receives full sun in the morning, but offers shade in the afternoons.
When pruning Hydrangea, always do it before August. Cut off any deadwood in the fall after the panicles finish blooming or in the spring before new growth appears.
Azaleas belong to the Rhododendron family and are one of the easiest shrubs to grow and care for. Azaleas differ from other Rhododendrons due to their small, pointy evergreen leaves.
Evergreen and deciduous selections are available for purchase, so choose your selection carefully. If adding one of these small landscape bushes to your shade garden, plant them in a slightly shaded location.
Too much sun burns the plant’s delicate leaves, while too much shade deprives it of oxygen. When planting an Azalea shrub, use well-draining soil on the acidic side.
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
When it comes to showy shrubs that thrive in shaded spots, the Mountain Laurel is a popular choice. This shade-tolerant beauty is native to North America and provides showy blooms from late spring until early summer.
As an evergreen shrub, once blooms fade away, the deep green foliage continues to provide color in the coldest environments. A slow-growing shrub, Mountain Laurel reaches heights of up to 15 feet with a four-foot width.
Deadhead spent flowers to prevent a leggy appearance and to put more energy into next year’s blooms. Choose a partially shaded location for planting and keep it well watered.
Opening Day Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum) – Shade Blooming Shrubs
This beautiful, showy shrub is named after its three-inch white flower clusters. As they bloom, they strongly resemble baseballs. A deciduous shrub, greenish-white blooms begin appearing in the spring and last through late summer.
The green foliage turns to many violet, maroon, and burgundy shades before dropping. Opening Day Doublefile Viburnum thrives in hardiness zones five through nine.
For optimal blooms, this shrub does require full sun but does well in partial shade. An easy to grow shrub that adapts to a variety of environments, Doublefile Viburnum reaches up to ten feet tall with a similar width.
Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
This deciduous shrub features arching stems with oval-shaped, dark green alternating leaves. The rounded shrub produces racemes or circle shaped dropping flowers that bloom from late spring until the middle of summer.
In autumn, the dark green leaves change to shades of gold, orange, and red before dropping. When planting this easy to grow shrub, find a location with well-draining average soil that you can keep evenly moist.
For optimal shape, blooming, and fall colors, this shrub requires full sun, but it grows quite well in partial shade.
Camellia (Camellia japonica)
Considered small trees or long-living shrubs, Camellias are native to southern and eastern areas of Asia but are a popular choice in the Southern United States.
Camellias come in over 3,000 varieties, so no matter the size, color, or shape you are after for your garden, there is one for your needs. Depending on the climate, blooms appear from fall until spring.
Camellias do best in zones six through nine as they prefer temperature climates. When choosing a planting location, look for well-draining, organically fertile soil that is slightly on the acidic side.
These evergreens require part shade to thrive, so find an area with morning shade to prevent blooms from burning.
Blooming Shade Shrubs – Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
These low maintenance small trees grow just about anywhere, including in deep shade and soggy to damp soil. The trees produce clusters of small white flowers in the early spring, which give way to red berries in the summer.
The green leaves from the spring and summer change to gold, orange, and red in autumn before dropping. Although they do grow in a variety of conditions, if you want them to thrive, pay attention to your planting locations.
Look for areas that provide neutral to acidic, well-draining soil. Keep the soil moderately moist without overwatering. Full sun produces more edible berries.
Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)
These deer-resistant evergreen shrubs provide some unusual looking white blooms. The flowers look similar to a vase turned upside down and begin opening up in the early spring.
After the flowers finish blooming, new bright red leaves start filling in. The flower nectar attracts hummingbirds but is highly toxic to humans.
This shrub thrives in zones six through eight but does require protection from the sun’s harsh summer rays and the cold winds of winter.
Look for a planting location with well-draining and fertile soil kept moist. This broadleaf shrub grows to heights of up to eight feet tall.
Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
The Bottlebrush Buckeye is named for its long, fluffy white flowers that look similar to a bottlebrush. The clusters of flowers begin appearing in early July and are set against textured, dark green leaves that turn golden yellow.
As this plant reproduces via suckers, it grows twice as wide as it does tall, so be mindful of planting. With heights of up to eight feet tall, these shrubs work well as border plants or as fast-growing shrubs for screening against nosy neighbors.
They do well in zones four through eight and require moist, well-draining soil on the acidic side. Choose a spot where they receive a minimum of four hours of light per day.
Golden Rule St. John’s Wort (Hypericum calycinum) – Blooming Shrubs for Shade
This small shrub also works well as a groundcover and brightens up any setting with light shade to full sun. As it establishes itself, gardeners will enjoy the gold leaves that fill in bare areas.
As summer approaches, the blooming yellow flowers draw in various pollinators. In the fall, the leaves turn gold to orange. Golden Rule St. John’s Wort grows up to 18 inches high and spreads about 24 inches.
It grows best in zones six through eight and requires minimal pruning. For primo color and growth, prune back the plant in the early spring before new growth appears and again once flowers are spent.
Daphne (Daphne burkwoodii)
A brightly colored flowering shrub, Daphne is best known for its fragrant flowers and colored berries. There are several different cultivators available, but they all do well in locations with partial shade and partial sun.
Height and width, as well as colors, vary based on the variety, but ‘Carol Mackie’ is a popular choice. White to pink flowers appear in the early spring and are paired against gray-green foliage with cream-colored edges.
For increased blooming, provide the shrub with a decent amount of sun. Daphne thrives in zones four through nine and requires moist, well-draining soil.
Red-Twig Dogwood (Cornus alba)
Known for its gray-green leaves with white margins, Red-Twig Dogwood is an excellent choice for areas that offer shade for up to half of the day. For the best appearance, expose the shrub to partial sun.
In the winter, the red stems from the bush stand out against barren backdrops or pair nicely with evergreens. Red-Twig Dogwood is one of the larger flowering shrubs that is hardy enough to grow in zones two through eight.
These fast growing shrubs for shade are an ideal focal point in the garden but thrive in containers as well. To showcase the deeper colors of new growth, prune back any old branches at the beginning of spring.
Shade Blooming Shrubs – Yew (Taxus baccata)
Yew is known for its red berries and soft green foliage. Yew berries are considered toxic, but the wildlife that snack on them never suffers any ill effects.
Many gardeners rely on the evergreen shrub as its short needles withstand even the harshest conditions. When choosing a planting location for Yew shrubs, select one with sandy, loamy soil with excellent drainage.
These evergreens tolerate full shade but do best in partial shade to full sun. Yew stands up quite well to pruning and is pretty forgivable when it comes to shaping.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis spp.)
Although it’s considered a tree, Witch Hazel looks more like a shrub. As a deciduous shrub or tree, it is grown for its beautiful blossoms in the late winter that last throughout the early spring.
The blooms first appear as buds on barren branches, but soon open up to display a fringy, pleasantly scented flower. When selecting a planting location for Witch Hazel, there are several factors to think about.
Plant them near walkways or doors, so people enjoy their pleasant fragrance. They also serve as points of interest for all shade gardens. These shrubs grow well in zones five through eight.
Thank you for reading our suggestions on showy shrubs for shade gardens. If you found any of our suggestions on shrubs for shady spots helpful, please share these shade blooming shrubs with others on Facebook and Pinterest.