Evergreen shrubs provide shaded gardens with the protection of thick leaves, and many varieties are ideal for a shady location. These include Anise, Densiformis yew, Aucuba japonica, and many more. To find the best shrub for your location, read on to discover the pros and cons of each one. You’ll have an evergreen shrub that complements your landscape in a way you’ve never thought possible.
Anise is an attractive, under-utilized evergreen shrub native to the southeastern US and Northwest Florida. Its foliage is glossy and gives off a pleasantly pungent aroma when rubbed. Its blooms are maroon and it performs best in shade to part-sun locations. It thrives in woodland-style gardens, though it doesn’t do as well in hot, dry climates.
Another shade-tolerant shrub is the star anise tree. The foliage emits an anise-like fragrance when crushed, and it is a great substitute for rhododendrons in cold climates. While the star anise tree doesn’t produce edible fruit, its foliage is often eaten for flavoring. It grows four to seven feet high and can last for 20 years if cared for properly.
Anise is a native tree that produces tiny yellow-green flowers in spring. While its flowers are fairly insignificant, the main reason it is grown is the beautiful foliage. Despite its small size, this heat-resistant plant grows well in a shaded area and is easy to care for. Though it prefers moist soil, it will tolerate some drought once established. It will require a shady spot but it will survive most climates.
The perennial Gardenia jasminoides is known for its fragrant white flowers and dark, glossy leaves. It grows anywhere from three to eight feet tall and spreads equally. In the right conditions, gardenias will bloom year round. The plant prefers a moist, well-drained soil and a slightly acidic pH. Gardenias are drought-tolerant and can survive some drought conditions.
There are many varieties of gardenia. Some varieties are quite hardy and can survive in zones 8 to 11, but the more common Gardenia is hardy only to USDA zones eight to 11. A few newer cultivars have a more tolerant cold tolerance and can even survive in a colder climate. If you are a shade gardener, consider the Gardenia jasminoides for its attractive foliage and fragrant blooms.
The genus is named after the scented blossoms, which are found on the branches of the plant. Gardenia jasminoides is a fragrant evergreen shrub that grows well in shade or part-shade conditions. This plant is best grown in a sunny window, but it can be planted in a shady area as well. However, gardenia jasminoides does need to be protected from high heat.
A densely-branched shrub, Densiformis yew can be trimmed to maintain a soft hedge. Its broad base should be surrounded by shorter, narrower tops, and it will stay green all year long. Care should be taken to ensure that the soil is well-drained, as it doesn’t like to stand in water. Once established, you can prune the aging plant to keep its shape and to encourage new growth. This shrub will thrive in most growing zones 4 to 7, though it will not survive in very wet soil.
The Densiformis yew has several cultivars. The female variety is narrow and rounded, while the male yew is columnar and wide. The clump-forming cultivar is highly prized for its flowers, which bloom in spring. All parts of Densiformis yew are poisonous, so you’ll have to make sure to water your plant only when you need to.
The female yew produces small, red berries that are a tasty snack for birds. The berries are edible, and the trees have a hard seed coat. They can be used as a hedge, screen, or landscape plant, although you should keep in mind that they can be toxic if eaten. While they may look tempting, the arils and seeds are highly poisonous, and they can harm livestock if eaten.
The golden dust aucuba shrub is an attractive choice for a shady landscape. This evergreen shrub grows to about 8 feet high and three to four feet wide. Leaves are green with fine, coarse teeth, and the flowers are tiny and purple-maroon. Gold dust aucuba is native to Japan and can tolerate partial shade. This evergreen shrub can survive in a range of soil conditions, and is very drought-tolerant once established.
Another evergreen shrub that looks beautiful in a shady garden is the aucuba japonica, or Japanese laurel. This shrub requires partial shade and produces clusters of bright red berries in the fall. It requires a moist, well-drained soil and can tolerate high, salty winds. It grows up to about 15 feet tall and makes a good hedge.
Japanese maples are excellent in shady gardens. They prefer moist, organic soil. It is also drought-tolerant, and requires very little maintenance. They are easy to propagate through cuttings and seed. Native to the Himalayas, this evergreen tree is a great choice for a shaded area. The foliage is richly colored and dappled with gold. It also tolerates pollution and drought.
This shrub has a vase-like appearance with thick, glossy dark green foliage. Its flowers are a light purple and slightly fragrant, and it blooms in mid-spring. Its foliage turns green in spring, changing to a purplish-bronze in the winter. It grows to an impressive height and width, and is suitable for partial to full shade. It’s also a good ground cover, and makes an excellent specimen plant in mass plantings.
Planting Leucothoe from seed is common, and it grows best in partial shade. This plant is hardy in Zones 5 through 7, though you’ll want to protect it from the coldest winter winds. If you want a specimen of Leucothoe in your garden, use it as a foundation plant or as an accent plant in the shady side of your home. It does not need pruning, and it is often used as a border plant along the edge of a garden path or stone wall. Its shallow, wide roots also make it ideal for planting around older trees.
A compact shrub, Leucothoe is a good choice for shaded areas. Its white flowers bloom in May. Its foliage changes from green to purple and bronze during the growing season. The foliage also has a curled appearance. The plant’s flowers and berries produce a honey-like fragrance and attract pollinators. These flowers are highly attractive, and you’ll want to grow a couple in your yard to enjoy their beauty.
The Japanese pieris is native to the mountains of east China, Taiwan, and Japan. This deer resistant shrub is suitable for most gardens. It matures at about six to seven feet. It has hybrid varies that are compact. It is a very low maintenance shrub that is easy to grow. In addition to making excellent plants for shade, Pieris is deer-resistant and makes an excellent screen.
The Japanese pieris, also called Lily-of-the-Valley, is a highly versatile shade-loving shrub. It blooms in early spring and continues to bloom for weeks, followed by glossy, dark green leaves. It is very attractive to native mason bees, which are important pollinators. Its flowers resemble Lily-of-the-Valley perennials, and its name translates to “Lily of the Valley” in English.
The Japanese maple grows to be about four feet tall, with a compact, dense habit and white bell-shaped flowers. It is deer-resistant and shade-tolerant. The newer varieties have compact growth habits and are suitable for containers and low-border plantings. The taller varieties boost foundation plantings and add romance to woodland settings. This under-utilized plant can be a great addition to your garden.
Vintage Jade Distylium
When planting shade-tolerant plants, consider the versatile Vintage Jade Distylium. This mounded, spreading shrub has attractive, evergreen foliage and provides a beautiful landscape element throughout the year. The plant’s deep red flowers produce tons of blooms in the winter. The plant can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, from dry, clay, and poor soil to full sun and partial shade. It makes an excellent low hedge or landscape accent.
Another interesting evergreen shrub, the Vintage Jade displays layered branching and swirling appearance. Its glossy foliage is dark green, and its flowers appear in late winter. This plant is a drought-tolerant plant, and it is great for groundcover. The plant can grow as low as three feet, and it is easy to clip into a hedge. It can survive drought conditions and is cold-hardy in Zones 6b-9.
The Vintage Jade has attractive foliage with dark green tips. Its foliage emerges light green in the spring and remains dark green all winter. This shrub has dense, multi-stemmed growth with oriental-style, horizontally-tiered branches. The Vintage Jade is a low-maintenance plant that tolerates pruning. Despite its small size, it grows slowly and can live for fifty years in ideal conditions.