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Shade tolerant shrubs for mixed border, woodland or specimen planting

A limited range of attractive shrubs will cope with heavy permanent shade conditions; however many will enjoy part or full sun during the day, just as long as it isn’t to excessive. Evergreen shrubs with large waxy leaves tend to have the upper hand under shade, being able to make the most of limited light by holding onto winter foliage and capitalising on increased winter light levels. Such lush impressive foliage can become a feature in itself, with many of these plants providing all year foliage impact in the garden. Some of the evergreen shade tolerant shrubs even produce blossom which will provide colour in shade positions, but as a general rule shade gardening is often more about attractive plant forms and foliage than it is about masses of blossom.

It is always sensible to always dig in plenty of compost and fertilizer into the planting pit to give the young shrubs a good start. After planting water in generously and keep watering while the plant is establishing. Use a mulch layer to help lock in any soil moisture as often shaded soils are not just shaded from the sun but also shaded from rain also. If shrubs become leggy from low light then think about pruning hard to encourage new growth and thinning surrounding taller plantings to let in more light.


Click on an image or plant name to view the full plant profile
Click Image for Full ProfileLatin & Common NameType & FormFlowersFoliageEarmark
Fatsia japonica - Fig leafed palmFatsia japonica

Fig leafed palm
Shrub, Rounded - BushCream flowers (Autumn)Dark Green foliage
Osmanthus x burkwoodii - OsmanthusOsmanthus x burkwoodii

Osmanthus
Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Rounded - BushWhite flowers (Spring, scented)Dark Green foliage
Sarcococca confusa - Sweet BoxSarcococca confusa

Sweet Box
Shrub, Ground cover, Container-friendly, Rounded - BushWhite flowers (Winter, scented)Medium Green foliage
Sarcococca hookeriana - Sweet BoxSarcococca hookeriana

Sweet Box
Shrub, Ground cover, Container-friendly, Rounded - BushWhite flowers (Winter, scented)Medium Green foliage
Skimmia Japonica - Ruby Dome - SkimmiaSkimmia Japonica

'Ruby Dome'

Skimmia
Shrub, Ground cover, Container-friendly, Spreading archingWhite flowers (Spring, scented)Medium Green foliage
Viburnum tinus - Eve Price - LaurustinusViburnum tinus

'Eve Price'

Laurustinus
Shrub, Ground cover, Hedging & Screening, Container-friendly, Rounded - BushWhite flowers (Winter, scented)Medium Green foliage
Aucuba japonica - Variegata - Spotted LaurelAucuba japonica

'Variegata'

Spotted Laurel
Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Container-friendly, Rounded - BushNon-floweringVariegated Green-Gold foliage
Rhododendron oreodoxa - FargesiiRhododendron oreodoxa

'Fargesii'
Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Container-friendly, Rounded - BushWhite flowers (Summer early)Medium Green foliage
Ilex X altaclerensis - Ripley Gold - Variegated Holly, IlexIlex X altaclerensis

'Ripley Gold'

Variegated Holly, Ilex
Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Container-friendly, Rounded - BushNon-floweringVariegated Green-Gold foliage
Mahonia japonica - MahoniaMahonia japonica

Mahonia
Shrub, Herbs, Ground cover, Culinary, Container-friendly, Rounded - BushYellow flowers (Winter, scented)Medium Green foliage


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