Conquer your low-light areas with these favorites

By Phil Avino

Shady areas in landscapes can be a challenge for gardeners. Many shrubs prefer a healthy dose of the sun’s rays to grow and flourish. While this limits your options in shady areas, there are still plenty of shrubs to choose from that will beautify a shady spot in your yard. Here are some of our favorites:

1) Little Henry® Sweetspire
This native, tough, low-maintenance, flowering shrub is perfect for shady areas. With white foliage in early summer and brilliant fall colors of orange and red, it has interest throughout the seasons. Little Henry® Sweetspire also attracts butterflies and is deer resistant.

2) Endless Summer® Hydrangea
With many different varieties, the Endless Summer® collection of hydrangeas is the premier flowering shrub for low-light areas. Giant flowers that range from red to pink to blue start blooming in early summer and can remain all the way into fall! This is an ‘improved’ hydrangea variety that flowers on both old and new wood, ensuring that you will have loads of blooms every year.

3) Doublefile Viburnum
For areas where you need something slightly taller, or as a privacy shield, this hardy native plant works well. With showy white flowers in spring, berries that attract birds in summer, and purple-red foliage in fall, this shrub has interest throughout the seasons.

4) Mountain Fire Pieris
This evergreen shrub features fiery red new growth emerging from the existing green foliage in spring. Later, white flower adorn the plant and contrast with the red foliage that blends to green as the season progresses. A slow-growing shrub, Mountain Fire Pieris is easy to maintain.

5) Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry
A great deciduous border shrub/small tree, Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry grows in clump-form and can reach heights of 20 feet. Clusters of fragrant white flowers in spring give way to small purplish black fruit that can be used in jams and jellies. Prized orange-red foliage arrives in fall.

6) Forsythia
An abundance of bright yellow flowers arrive early in the season, signaling to everyone that spring is here! Later, green foliage leafs out and makes a nice hedge plant. Forsythia is a native plant that is not fussy and thrives in a number of different conditions.

7) Azalea
Azaleas are low-growing evergreen shrubs that flower heavily in spring. There are many different varieties that bloom in numerous different colors. A nice accent piece, azaleas are a low-maintenance shrub.

8) Rhododendron
A classic in many established gardens, rhododendrons have stood the test of time. An evergreen shrub, rhododendrons display large, showy flowers in spring and can reach heights of 8’ tall. They are an outstanding accent piece in foundation plantings.

9) Taxus Hicksii
Another classic, Taxus Hicksii is a very hardy evergreen shrub with dark green, needle-like leaves. Female plants produce red, berry-like fruits. Taxus hicksii works well as either an accent plant, or a hedge. They can be pruned to maintain a desired height, or left to grow to an ultimate height of over 10’ tall.

10) Green Mountain Boxwood
This handsome evergreen shrub comes in many different forms, from globe-shaped to pyramidal spirals. It is deer-resistant and excellent for use in formal gardens. Slow-growing, it is easy to maintain and very hardy.

11) Emerald Green Arborvitae
This rapidly growing evergreen is perfect for privacy hedges! Adaptable to numerous different conditions, Emerald Green Arborvitae will thrive in places where others fail. A simple pruning once a year will keep it at your desired height.

12) Blue Prince/Princess Holly
With dense blue-green foliage, this holly is excellent for hedges or foundation plantings. This evergreen features bright red berries throughout the winter on the female Blue Princess plant, which are pollinized by the male Blue Prince plant.