U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 7 pertains to all regions where the average annual winter low temperature dips into the 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit range. Often the winters are mild but chilly, only occasionally getting very cold. This climate factor allows a wide range of deciduous and evergreen shrubs to prosper. Gardeners even enjoy a fair selection of shrubs that also prosper in shade under trees or on northern sides of buildings.
Basic Growing Conditions
Shrubs that tolerate shady garden settings tend to naturally grow in woodlands. Forest soils most often contain lots of organic matter from fallen leaves and twigs and tend to be in the neutral to acidic pH range. Choose shade-loving shrubs for USDA zone 7 based on their water needs. Shrubs growing under trees must compete with many tree roots for the limited water and nutrient resources. Most shade-loving shrubs grow best in evenly moist, well-drained soil. The choices of plants that prosper in dry shade are much fewer.
Extent of Shade
The depth and duration of shade also dictates how well a shrub grows in a zone 7 landscape. Dappled shade occurs under tall trees -- bright indirect light dominates with shifting splattering of small exposure to sun rays. Full shade conditions arise on the north side of buildings or under low-canopied evergreen trees like southern magnolia, oak or cedar. If the shade-loving shrub can obtain two to four hours of direct sunlight in the early morning or early evening, it tends to remain healthier and produce flowers better.
Flowering Shrubs for Shade
Camellias, anise trees, teaolives, viburnums and azaleas comprise the most reliable number of shrub species that grow well in shady conditions across USDA zone 7. Evergreen Japanese camellia (Camellia japonica) and hybrids bloom in winter to early spring and look at home under tall pine or winter deciduous trees. Anise trees (Illicium spp.) also remain evergreen but bear scented sea coral-like flowers across spring. Teaolives' (Osmanthus spp.) flowers are tiny but emit a far-reaching and intoxicating scent. Various native azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) grow well in shady conditions, bearing blossoms anytime from spring to late summer depending on species. Painted buckeye (Aesculus sylvatica) and bottlebrush buckeye (A. parviflora) also perform well in various levels of shade.
Foliage Shade Shrubs
If flower color isn't a priority for the shady garden area but ground cover and structure is needed, foliage shrubs may prove best. Glossy leaves, often with flecks of white or yellow, grown on the Japanese aucuba (Aucuba japonica). Plum yews (Cephalotaxus spp.) mock the look of needled evergreens with deep green, feathery foliage. Silverberries (Elaeagnus spp.), wintercreepers (Euonymus spp.), Eurya japonica, Oregon grapes (Mahonia spp.), doghobbles (Leucothoe/Agarista spp.), spicebushes (Lindera spp.), heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix), butcher's broom (Ruscus aculeatus), sarcococcas (Sarcococca spp.) and Alexandrian poet's laurel (Danae racemosa) prosper in shady areas as well as tolerate USDA zone 7's winters.
- "Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs"; Michael A. Dirr; 1997
- "Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates"; Michael A. Dirr; 2002
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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