Flowering Shrubs for Shade (Evergreen and Deciduous) With Pictures for Easy Identification 

Flowering Shrubs for Shade

Flowering shrubs that thrive in the shade are perfect plants if you have a shaded garden. Full-shade shrubs bloom with flowers in hues of pink, blue, lilac, red, white, and yellow. Many shade-loving flowering perennial shrubs continue to produce lush foliage and beautiful flowers despite a lack of sunlight in a garden landscape. Also, shade-tolerant evergreen shrubs can provide year-long privacy in your front or backyard.

There is a wide variety of flowering shrubs for deep shade or partial shade to choose from. Flowering dwarf shrubs for shade are ideal for borders, growing in containers, or planting in small, compact gardens. Larger shrubs for shady gardens are suitable for growing as flowering living fences, screens, or specimen plants. There are even shade-tolerant shrubs that flower in winter.

This article is a guide to finding the best flowering shrubs for all levels of shade. No matter the amount of sunlight the garden gets, you will find suitable flowering shrubs for shade in this list. Descriptions and pictures of shrubs for shade will help you choose flowering landscaping ideas for shady areas.

How to Choose Flowering Shrubs for Shade

Choosing shrubs for shaded areas is challenging. All plants need some sunlight to grow and bloom. So not every shrub is suitable for growing in partial to full shade. So, it’s vital to pick the right kind of flowering shrubs for the amount of sunlight they get.

Suppose an east- or west-facing garden gets some morning or afternoon sunlight. In that case, flowering shrubs for partial shade are ideal. But if the shrubs are growing in the constant shadow beside a fence or wall, then shrubs for deep shade are necessary to bloom and produce healthy leaves.

The Best Flowering Shrubs for Shade

There is a surprisingly wide range of shade-loving shrubs that bloom despite a lack of sunlight. Here are some of the best shrubs for planting in a shaded garden landscape:

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)—This low-maintenance dwarf shrub has deciduous foliage, arching branches, and masses of white bottlebrush flowers. Suitable for partial shade.

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)—An evergreen pink-flowering shrub that performs superbly in partial shade.

Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.)—Suitable for heavy shade, many rhododendron shrubs bloom with showy, colorful flowers. From partial shade to full shade, tall rhododendrons bloom reliably, growing in the shadows. Compact flowering rhododendrons are excellent foundation plants.

Full-shade azaleas—Smaller than rhododendrons, many types of azalea shrubs thrive in the shade and bloom every springtime. The small deciduous shrubs for shade flower in hues of pink, red, white, and yellow.

Hydrangeas—These easy-care, large flowering shrubs perform just as well in full shade as dappled sunlight. Varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla bloom throughout the summer until fall growing in shaded landscapes.

How Much Sun Do Shade-Tolerant Shrubs Need?

To ensure shrubs flowers in shady areas, it’s vital to know the type of shade your garden gets. Typically, light requirements are classed as full sun, partial sun, partial shade, and full shade. However, shade can also be described as deep shade or heavy shade. Some shrubs perform better in dappled sunlight.

Here are descriptions of light conditions for different kinds of flowering shrubs:

  • Full sun—Direct sunlight for at least six hours a day.
  • Partial sun—Between four and six hours of sunlight daily.
  • Light shade—These shrubs benefit from three to five hours of sunshine, especially morning sunlight. This type of shade can also be dappled shade or intermittent shade.
  • Partial shade—Shrubs that prefer shade for half of the day or a maximum of two hours of direct sunlight.
  • Full shade—A maximum of one hour of sunlight where the shrubs are mainly in the shadows of evergreen trees, buildings, or structures.
  • Heavy shade—Conditions where almost no direct sunlight reaches the flowering shrub.

White Flowering Shrubs for Shade

The majority of flowering bushes that thrive in the shade produce white, creamy-white, off-white, or pure white blooms. Let’s look at some of the best flowering shade bushes that have white flowers.

Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Oakleaf hydrangea plants are large, deciduous shade-tolerant bushes with attractive white, long-blooming flower clusters. The hydrangea leaves are lobed, resembling oak leaves or maple tree leaves. Oakleaf hydrangea flowers are cylindrical clusters growing up to 12” (30 cm) long. This shade-tolerant shrub blooms throughout the summer until late fall.

Oakleaf hydrangeas are ideal for foundation plantings, border shrubs, flowering summer hedge, or specimen plants.

Size: 4 to 8 ft. (1.2 – 2.4 m) tall and up to 10 ft. (3 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 5 to 9.

Japanese Skimmia (Skimmia Japonica)

Japanese Skimmias (Skimmia Japonica)

Japanese Skimmia (Skimmia Japonica)

Japanese skimmia is a white-flowering dwarf shrub that’s perfect for shady landscapes. The Japanese skimmia blooms with clusters of creamy white, star-shaped aromatic flowers. The shrub’s dense rounded growth consists of leathery evergreen lanceolate leaves. In the fall, Japanese skimmia flowers develop into clusters of red berries.

Growing a small Japanese skimmia in a container is ideal for small gardens. The shade-loving plant grows well at the front of house, along fences, or in shrub borders where there is little sunlight.

Size: 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) tall and 5 ft. (1.5 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Partial sun, partial shade, full shade.

USDA growing zones: 6 – 8.

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

Virginia sweetspire is a native low-maintenance bushy shrub for full shade. Virginia sweetspire has white bottlebrush flower spikes growing to 6” (15 cm) long. In mid-spring and throughout summer, masses of cylinder-like white flowers cover this rounded shrub. In the fall, the elongated, pointed lush green leaves turn shades of red and orange.

Despite growing in deep shade, Virginia sweetspire displays masses of showy white flowers. Grow the bushy shrub in shaded woodland gardens or as a hedge plant, shrub border, or foundation plant. It is also suitable for ground cover for shade.

Size: 3 to 10 ft. (1 – 3 m) tall and wide.

Sun exposure: Dappled sunlight or partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 5 – 9.

Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica)

Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica)

Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica)

Also called big-leaf paper plant, the Japanese aralia grows well in heavy shade, producing creamy-white flowers in the fall. The Japanese aralia flowers look like small fuzzy balls on the end of pale stalks. The large dark-green, evergreen leaves look like palm leaves or fig leaves and grow up to 14” (35 cm) wide.

The white flowers measure 1.25” (3 cm) in diameter. Grow the evergreen shrub in shaded borders, containers, or as a specimen plant.

Size: 5 to 8 ft. (1.5 – 2.4 m) tall and wide.

Sun exposure: Partial shade to full shade.

USDA growing zones: 7 to 10.

Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)

Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)

Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)

Bottlebrush buckeye is a tall flowering shrub for growing in partial shade. The eye-catching feature of the shrub is the clusters of creamy-white spidery flowers growing as 24-inch (60-cm) long panicles. As a shade-tolerant deciduous shrub, the sizeable green palmately compound leaves turn golden yellow in the fall.

Size: 6 to 10 ft. (1.8 – 3 m) tall and 8 to 15 ft. (2.4 – 4.5 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 4 to 8.

Slender Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis)

Slender Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis)

Slender Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis)

Slender Deutzia is a densely mounding shrub for partial shade that blooms with showy white narrow flower clusters. The narrow panicles measure 3” (7.5 cm) long and consist of fragrant bell-shaped flowers. Slender Deutzia flowers bloom for two weeks in spring. The deciduous lanceolate or ovate leaves drop in the fall.

Slender Deutzia is a beautiful shade-tolerant shrub for informal borders, front-of-house foundations, or low-growing hedges. The shrub is also resistant to deer.

Size: 2 to 5 ft. (0.6 – 1.5 m) tall and wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 5 to 8.

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)

Cherry laurel is a tall shrub for heavy shade that blooms with beautiful fuzzy white flower spikes. The shrub’s dense evergreen growth and white flower clusters make this hedging plant suitable for most gardens. Cherry laurel leaves are oblong shaped and grow up to 6” (15 cm) long.

Cherry laurel can grow as a multi-stemmed shrub or small tree for shade. Some landscaping ideas for shaded gardens include a hedge, tall privacy screen, or flowering shade tree.

Size: 10 to 20 ft. (3 – 6 m) tall and 8 to 11 ft. (2.4 – 3.3 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun, dappled sunlight, partial shade, or deep shade.

USDA growing zones: 6 to 8.

Purple Flowering Shrubs for Shade

Purple flowering shrubs that grow in the shade add dramatic color to many garden landscapes and add wonderful shades of lilac, violet, purple-blue, and lavender to your garden.

Hydrangea Shrubs (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Hydrangea Shrubs (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Hydrangea Shrubs (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Also called mophead hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla shrubs are well-suited for growing in the shade. The large pom-pom purple flower heads contain masses of tiny star-shaped flowers measuring up to 8” (20 cm) across. The deciduous shrub’s glossy-green obovate leaves measure 6” (15 cm) wide.

Plant hydrangea shrubs where there is afternoon shade. The shade-friendly shrubs are ideal for growing as foundation plantings, hedges, and in shady container gardens.

Size: 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall and wide.

Sun exposure: Partial shade to deep shade.

USDA growing zones: 6 to 11.

Hardy Fuchsia Shrubs for Shade

Fuchsia climber

Fuchsia

Fuchsia is a shrub-like plant with purple flowers that grows best in partial to full shade. The characteristic feature of fuchsia shrubs is their spectacular bell-shaped flowers with long dangling stamens. The fast-growing purple flowering vines can grow up to 5 ft. (1.5 m) tall and eventually reach 10 ft. (3 m).

There are over 100 varieties of plants in the Fuchsia genus. So, if you’ve got a shaded garden, choose one from the shade-loving fuchsia hybrids or cultivars.

Sun exposure: Partial shade to full shade.

USDA growing zones: 9 to 11.

Pink flowering Shrubs for Shade

Pink flowering shrubs for shaded areas look graceful and elegant in your garden and can be in any shade from light pastel pink to coral pink, hot bright pink, magenta or reddish-pink.

Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa

Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)

Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)

Tree peony is a shade-friendly shrub that has gigantic, beautiful showy pink flowers. The flowering deciduous peony shrub blooms for two months from mid-spring and produces up to 100 showy blossoms. The lush green foliage consists of oval or lance-shaped green leaves.

Tree peonies are beautiful landscaping shrubs for flowering hedges, at the back of flower beds, or along fences. Although it tolerates shade, tree peonies may become leggy and not bloom as much in deep shade.

Size: 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall and 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 4 to 7.

Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora

Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) 

Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)

Glossy abelia is a mounding, semi-evergreen shrub for the shade that produces shiny green leaves and pinkish flowers. As a low-maintenance shrub, glossy abelia performs well in full sun or partial shade. Its pinkish-white flowers bloom throughout summer until the fall. The small, ovate green leaves turn bronze-red in winter.

Grow glossy abelia in partial shade as an informal hedge, specimen plant, or container plant.

Size: 4 to 5 ft. (1.2 – 1.5 m) tall and wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 6 to 9.

Camellia

Camellia

Camellia shrub

Camellia shrubs are evergreen ornamental flowering shrubs that thrive in dappled or partial shade. The spectacular blooms can be flat, bowl, or cup-shaped and may have single or double flowers. The large pink conspicuous flowers on shade-tolerant camellia bushes appear in late winter or early spring and grow up to 5” (12 cm) wide.

Plant camellias in mixed shrub borders or woodland gardens. The shrubs also perform well in partial shade as a flowering hedgerow, screen, or container plant.

Size: 6 to 10 ft. (1.8 – 3 m) tall and 4 to 6 ft. (1.2 – 1.8 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun, partial sun, or partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 6 to 9.

Garland Flower (Daphne cneorum)

Garland Flower (Daphne cneorum)

Garland Flower (Daphne cneorum)

Daphne cneorum is a trailing evergreen plant with masses of pink star-shaped flowers. The low-growing shrub performs well in partial shade or full sun. When in full bloom in spring and summer, the dainty, colorful flowers cover the small, ovate green leaves.

Grow garland flowering shrubs as ground cover in the shade or trailing plants to cover wall or rock gardens.

Size: 1 ft. (0.3 m) tall and 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 5 to 8.

Other Flowering Shrubs for Shade

Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Azalea shrub

Many varieties of flowering rhododendron shrubs and azaleas grow well in partial shade or full shade. Azaleas and rhododendrons typically have large, leathery glossy-green leaves and clusters of showy pink, red, purple, yellow, orange or white bell-shaped flowers. The shrub’s rounded growth explodes into color when in bloom in late summer.

Size depending on the variety of shrub plants in the Rhododendron genus that grow from 2 to 15 ft. (0.6 – 4.5 m) tall and up to 10 ft. (3 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun to deep shade.

USDA growing zones: 4 to 10; however, you must check the individual shrub to see if it’s suitable for your area.

Bushy St. John’s Wort (Hypericum densiflorum)

Bushy St. John’s Wort (Hypericum densiflorum)

Bushy St. John’s Wort (Hypericum densiflorum)

Bushy St. John’s Wort is a large, sprawling shade-tolerant shrub with clusters of yellow summer flowers. The golden yellow decorative flowers have four to five petals and multiple wiry stamens, giving the saucer-shaped flowers a frilly look. The dark green lanceolate leaves measure up to 3” (7.5 cm) long.

Bushy St. John’s Wort performs well in moist or wet soil. The shrub grows well in shrub borders, foundation plantings, or banks and slopes. You can also plant this showy shrub in the shade beside ponds.

Size: 2 to 7 ft. (0.6 – 2.1 m) tall and 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 3 – 8.

Evergreen Flowering Shrubs for Shade (With Pictures)

The beauty of growing evergreen flowering shrubs in shaded areas of your garden landscape is that the bushy plants stay green all year long and brighten up your yard with stunning flowers in spring and summer.

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Mountain laurel is an evergreen white or pink-flowering shrub that thrives in partial shade. The identifying features of mountain laurel are bell-shaped white or pink blooms growing in clusters, glossy green leaves, and tall, rounded growth. Although mountain laurel grows best with a few hours of daily sunshine, it also tolerates full shade.

Grow mountain laurel as an ornamental landscaping shrub in borders, woodland gardens, cottage gardens, or specimen plants.

Size: 5 to 15 ft. (1.5 – 4.5 m) tall and wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun to full shade.

USDA growing zones: 4 – 9.

Dwarf Japanese Pieris Shrub (Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’)

Japanese Andromeda (Pieris Japonica)

Japanese Andromeda (Pieris Japonica)

Japanese pieris is a dwarf, evergreen shrub ideal for growing flowers in partial shade. The endearing feature of this compact evergreen shrub is beautiful drooping clusters of bell-shaped spring flowers. The pure white fragrant flowers contrast with the attractive leathery dark green leaves.

Due to its short stature, this small shade-tolerant bushy shrub is ideal along borders, front-of-house plantings, or mass plantings in dappled sunlight.

Size: 2 ft. (0.6 m) tall and 3 ft. (1 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 5 to 8.

Japanese Mahonia Evergreen Shrubs (Mahonia japonica)

Japanese Mahonia (Mahonia japonica)

Japanese Mahonia (Mahonia japonica)

The shade-loving Japanese mahonia shrub produces long yellow flowering spikes. The medium-sized evergreen shrub, Japanese mahonia has spiky leathery leaves, fragrant yellow flowers that persist through summer until fall, and clusters of black berries. When the holly-like leaves turn color, they are spectacular red or purple leaves.

As a shade lover, flowering Japanese mahonia shrubs are ideal for foundation plantings, woodland gardens, or as low-maintenance shrubs where there is little to no direct sunlight

Size: 8 to 10 ft. (2 – 3 m) tall and wide.

Sun exposure: Partial sun or full shade.

USDA growing zones: 7 and 8.

Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia aquifolium)

oregon grape

Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia aquifolium)

Oregon grape holly is a small flowering shrub, ideal for shade gardens to add seasonal interest throughout the year. The attractive features of Oregon grape holly are bright yellow flower clusters, shiny leathery leaves, and edible blue berries.

The name of this ornamental shrub comes from its grape-like berry clusters. It is also the State Flower of Oregon.

Grow Oregon grape holly in shaded borders, along fences, or at the front of house to enjoy its beautiful flowers in the shade.

Size: 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall and 2 to 5 ft. (0.6 – 1.5 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Partial sun, partial shade, full shade.

USDA growing zones: 5 – 8.

Deciduous Flowering Shrubs for Shade (With Pictures)

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis spp.)

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) 

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)

Witch hazel is a low-maintenance flowering shrub for dappled sunlight or part shade. As a popular shade bush, witch hazel has bright yellow wiry flowers that bloom in winter. The ribbon-like petaled flowers bloom on bare branches, creating a spectacular winter landscape. Depending on the species, witch hazel blooms from October until February. The spidery flowers can be yellow, orange, or red.

Plant witch hazel shrubs in full sun to partial shade in mixed shrub borders or as a specimen plant, screen, or hedge.

Size: 10 – 20 ft. (3 – 6 m) tall and up to 20 ft. (6 m) wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

USDA growing zones: 3 – 9.

Viburnum Shrubs for Full Shade 

Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)

Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)

Many varieties of viburnum shrubs bloom regularly, growing in full shade or partial sun. Viburnum flowers are large clusters of white, pink, or greenish-white flowers. The large shrub’s leaves have serrated margins and measure 4” (10 cm) long. In the fall, the lush foliage turns shades of red, yellow, and orange.

The best viburnum shrubs for full shade are the arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum), maple leaf (Viburnum acerifolium), and leather leaf varieties (Viburnum rhytidophyllum).

Viburnum shrubs are ideal for flowering borders in shade gardens. You can also plant the large shade-loving shrubs as hedges, living screens, or foundation plantings.

Size: 6 to 10 ft. (1.8 – 3 m) tall wide.

Sun exposure: Full sun, partial sun, full shade.

USDA growing zones: 2 – 10.

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