Shrubs for Deep Shade


A landscaper's job is not complete until there is something beautiful to look at in even the darkest corners of the yard. Finding a shrub that will thrive in deep shade is a challenge many gardeners and landscapers face. Whether you prefer a shrub that blooms, provides fall color or stays brilliantly evergreen, there is a shade-loving variety that will enhance your landscape.


  • Many varieties of hydrangea will thrive in partial shade, but late panicle hydrangea will tolerate even full shade and still provide large, airy flowers that bloom white before turning shades of bronze in autumn, according to Nature Hills Nursery. Late panicle is a fast-growing shrub that works well when planted en masse or used as a specimen plant. This is a hardy variety of hydrangea that grows 6 to 8 feet high and spreads 8 to 10 feet wide.


  • The emerald 'n gold variety of euonymus will provide brilliant gold and green, variegated foliage even in deep shade. Its color becomes more interesting when the leaf tips turn a pinkish red as the weather gets cold. Also called wintercreeper, emerald 'n gold is only 2 to 4 feet high at maturity. It is a fast-growing shrub that works well for mass plantings or hedges. Emerald 'n gold tolerates a variety of soil conditions except wet, poorly drained sites.


  • Densiformus yew, or dens yew, is a shade-tolerant evergreen shrub that grows up to 4 feet high and spreads 6 feet wide. It grows rapidly and its feathery, green needles will light up almost any dark corner in your yard. This yew is also tolerant of salt breezes, poor soil, pollution and deer. However, dens yew does not tolerate poor drainage, excessive wind or winter sun.


  • Though deep shade will decrease the bloom and fruit of the sutherland golden elderberry shrub, the plant will still reward you with bright leaves in shades of copper, gold and lime green. At maturity, sutherland golden reaches heights of 12 feet, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. Its fern-like leaves and airy structure give it the look of an overgrown fern. This variety of elderberry is ideal for naturalizing and mixes well with other types of shrubs. Sutherland golden tolerates many soil conditions and is drought-tolerant.

Alpine Currant

  • The alpine currant is a shade-tolerant variety of the non-fruiting currant. Grown as an ornamental shrub, the alpine currant has dark green foliage that is easily pruned into a formal hedge. It grows up to 3 feet high. Alpine currant is vulnerable to leaf spot disease but the disease can be prevented by using a fungicide spray in midsummer.

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