Shrubs for Shade

All gardens have shady spots to a greater or lesser extent, and these areas require shrubs and plants which are shade tolerant. There are plenty of shade loving shrubs including, evergreen, some scented and flowering shrubs. You can create a low maintenance shade tolerant shrub border, or use the shrubs to create form and intersperse with shade-loving plants. The shrubs listed here are not suitable for dry shade, (which is tricky.) If you have dry shade, check out ideas for plants and shrubs which are drought tolerant.

Some shrubs listed here will grow in deeper shade, which is indicated. 

viburnum tinus

Viburnum tinus

This is Viburnum tinus, which has a lot going for it. It is fully evergreen and reaches about 2-4m depending on the growing conditions. Its H4 hardiness allows it to thrive, and it produces attractive flowers that start as pink buds and transform into bright white blooms with a delightful fragrance. Viburnums flower in late winter and are low maintenance, tolerant of dappled shade, and will grow on any soil type.

There are other varieties of Viburnum which will grow in partial  shade: Viburnum burkwoodii, Viburnum x carlcephalum, Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn', Viburnum davidii, and Viburnum opulus the Guelder rose.  Generally Viburnum is easy to grow.

hamamelis common name witch hazel


Hamamelis is a winter flowering deciduous shrub/small tree which will provide winter colour. Flower colours are shades of yellow, orange, red with some mauve flowering varieties. Most are scented.

Common name Witch Hazel, Hamamelis will tolerate light shade and look good as shown here in a woodland setting under planted by late winter and early spring bulbs. The lovely bright flowers will shine out from a shady spot. Growing tips and images.

hydrangea lacecap


Excellent for growing in semi and dappled shade, Hydrangea are a mostly summer flowering deciduous shrubs which like shady conditions, cool areas and moist soil. There are several types of hydrangea with a great range of colours. Illustrated is a lace cap, check out images of Hydrangea suitable for the garden and growing tips.

There is also a climbing form Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris which will grow in shade and is ideal to grow up an east/north-facing wall. This variety, in common with all hydrangeas, is deciduous, spring flowering with lovely delicate creamy white flowers. It is self supporting on a wall or fence and needs a generous amount of space.



Camellia is a lovely spring flowering shrub, with large rose like flowers and glossy leaves. There are Camellias which will grow in partial shade and there is no doubt their showy blooms will light up the area.

Camellia is not straightforward to grow and its important to plant them in the correct position. Check out if your shady area is suitable for a Camellia.

Crocus has a selection of Camellia suitable to grow in partial shade (affiliate link)

Sarcococca hookeriana

Sarcococca common name sweet box

It is good to find a shrub which will grow in shade,  even dense shade with the added bonus of sweetly scented flowers.

Sarcococca is an evergreen shrub winter flowering shrub, which is very easy to grow. Varieties vary in size from around 1.5 m down to 0.5m a well-behaved garden shrub. More about growing Sarcococca 

Choisya astec pearl


One of my favourite shrubs, Choisya, ticks lots of boxes. It is fully hardy, evergreen with glossy leaves and wonderfully scented flowers in early summer. It is also easy to grow and makes a lovely addition to the border. There are two varieties commonly grown Choisya ' Aztec Pearl'  illustrated also known as Mexican Orange Blossom, and C. ternata. 

Tips on growing Choisya.

Choisya astec pearl


Garrya  elliptica, common name Silk Tassel Bush, displays its lovely catkins in winter. It is easy to grow although not all varieties are fully hardy, which includes the most commonly grown variety Garrya E. ' James Roof' 

I have seen Garrya growing in the northern parts of the UK. The trick is to plant it in a sheltered spot away from chilling winds. 

Tips for planting and growing Garrya.