Whether you live in the cooler, higher-elevation regions or the more mild, coastal regions of Oregon, you have a choice between a handful of shade-loving shrubs. Some bloom in vivid colors, others can add texture to your shady spot. These shrubs also vary in shade preference: Some prefer dappled sunlight or partial shade, while a few can handle deeper shade.
Decorate your shady spot with hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.). These medium to large shrubs typically do best in a shady location that gets filtered or dappled sunlight through the day or a little bit of morning sun. "Fire and Ice" panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata "Wim's Red") has long, conical clusters of flowers that open a creamy white, fade to pink in midsummer and end deep, wine-red in fall. Beni Gaku (Hydrangea serrata "Beni Gaku") is a lacecap hydrangea that offers white flowers that develop a reddish-pink edge later in the season. "Fire and Ice" grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8 while Beni Gaku grows in USDA zones 5 through 9.
Fuchsia (Fuchsia spp.) is known for its colorful, pendulous flowers that hang delicately. Hummingbirds flock to the flowers. Hardy fuchsia (Fuchsia genii) grows as a perennial in USDA zones 7 through 9 in full to partial shade. This species grows to 4 feet tall and has an equal spread; the branches arch gracefully to create a somewhat mounded shape. "DebRon's Stormy Night" (Fuchsia x "DebRon's Stormy Night") also grows in USDA zones 7 through 9, but unlike hardy fuchsia, it has a strong, upright, columnar growing habit.
Anise trees are known for their fragrance. If you live in the warmer parts of Oregon, they will provide fragrant flowers for your full-shade location. Both the yellow anise tree (Illicium parviflorum) and the Mexican anise tree (Illicium mexicanum) grow in USDA zones 8 through 9 and have evergreen foliage. Yellow anise tree grows into a tall shrub or short tree at 8 to 15 feet tall. Yellow flowers adorn the shrub in late spring. Mexican anise grows to only 3 or 4 feet tall with an equal spread and offers purplish-red flowers throughout the season.
Rhododendrons and Azaleas
Rhododendrons and azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) provide large, colorful flowers on evergreen foliage. Sneezy rhododendron (Rhododendron x "Sneezy") may have an awkward name, but its flowers are anything but. In spring, this mounding, 4-foot-tall shrub bursts with large clusters of pink flowers lined in red. This variety grows in full shade in nearly every climate zone in Oregon: USDA zones 5 through 9. "Buzzer Beater" (Rhododendron x "Buzzer Beater" (H-1)) offers pale, buttery yellow to almost white clusters of flowers. Growing 5 to 7 feet tall, this variety can make an ideal flowering hedge. "Buzzer Beater" grows in USDA zones 4 through 8 and does best in partial shade or partial sun. Rhododendrons prefer slightly acidic soil, and many species tolerate partial shade or more sun.
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