Recently in this column I suggested a few ideas for trees that could
provide some much-needed shade to your sun-drenched landscape. But
what if your property is ALREADY quite shady?
Perhaps you want to add some attractive shrubbery but don't want to
remove the trees that cast a long shadow over your chosen planting
site. Or maybe a neighboring structure, over which you have no
control, means that direct sunlight doesn't spend much time on your
side of the fence.
A hopeless situation?
No, not at all! Today I'll share with you some of my favorite plants
that seem to do very well even when planted in shady locations.
But first, if you missed the column on fast-growing shade trees, you
can find it archived at my web site. Go to www.landsteward.org click
on the "Plant Man" heading, then scroll down to the column titled
"These trees have it made in the shade."
Now on to those "shade loving" plants...
Viburnum shoshoni Let's start with one that can thrive in anything
from almost full sun to partial shade. A lot of people favorably
compare this Viburnum to a Dogwood, and I can see why! In spring, the
blooms create an effect of white lace on green velvet, and in summer
birds will be attracted by the red berries. The fall colors range from
yellow-orange to pink and purple. It will grow to about 4 feet tall
and 8 feet wide and is fairly low maintenance: prune back the dead
bits or just leave it alone.
French Pussy Willow (Salix caprea) If your site is not only somewhat
shady but also quite wet, the French Pussy Willow could be a very
attractive choice. The silvery, furry catkins appear in late winter or
very early spring and look spectacular when 'forced' for early season
flower arrangements. There is a delightful legend about how the Pussy
Willow got its name, and cat lovers all go "Awwwwww....!" when they
hear it! If you'd like to read it, send me an e-mail at
email@example.com and I'll send it to you!
Brilliant Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima')
Although this Chokeberry does well in direct sun, it's another option
if your chosen spot is not only shady but somewhat wet. In fact it is
often selected by landscapers to border the boggy areas near ponds and
streams. It's a fairly slow grower, topping out at around 6 to 8 feet,
and as you might guess from its name, is renowned for its attractive
glossy red berries and red fall foliage. I like this particular
Chokeberry because it is more compact, produces more lustrous foliage
with superior red fall color and produces larger, glossier and more
abundant fruit than some others.
Fragrant honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) You might not think of
this as a shade-loving plant, but in fact it is quite tolerant of
partial sun and shade conditions. In the spring, it comes alive with
pink and white blossoms that produce a delightful fragrance! It has a
high tolerance for various soil conditions and has low water
requirements. Fragrant honeysuckle can create a very attractive screen
in front of an ugly fence, or you can 'soften' the hard appearance of
a brick wall or the side of a garage.
There are a number of other plants that can brighten up the shady
parts of your landscape, and I'll have some more suggestions in a
future column. Meanwhile, if you need some specific suggestions, drop
me an e-mail and I'll do my best to help.
Reminder: Saturday, September 18 is National Public Lands Day. This
annual event brings together thousands of volunteers around the
country to care for one of America's most valuable resources: our
public lands. To find out more or to volunteer, go to
http://www.npld.com Or click on the link in this column archived at my
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, including archived columns, visit