Shade Loving Shrubs: 11 Beautiful Bushes To Plant Under Trees

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Looking for shade loving shrubs to plant under trees? This list has bushes for every season – some with beautiful flowers, evergreen leaves as well as stunning foliage and stems.

Shade Loving Shrubs: 11 bushes to plant under trees

The shady space between taller trees and bushes and low growing perennials lends itself to an array of blooming bushes and interesting foliage plants. These are the shrubs that are at eye level in the border. While some draw your attention to focal points, others anchor the perimeter.

The mid-story is the ideal place for plants that provide all-season interest. I search for shade tolerant shrubs and bushes that can be trimmed to keep the heights between 3 and 6 feet.

I also like to echo the colors of the foliage in the ground cover and aim for a succession of bloom.

Need ideas for ground cover plants that grow well in the shade? Click here to find some great compact shade plants.

I rely on the glorious blooms of rhododendrons, azalea and mountain laurel in the spring, the magnificence of hydrangeas in the summer, Japanese maple foliage in autumn, and evergreen foliage and bark in the winter.

Keep reading to find out more about shade loving shrubs you can plant under trees.

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15 Responses

  • Living in Florida with Live Oak trees is a challenge. Not too much lives under live oaks. Can you give me some ideas? We are in Clearwater.

    • Hi Tracy…I haven’t had a Live Oak tree in my yard, but I love the look of them! I think you would need to find shade plants with shallow roots that like acid soil. I would try ferns, azaleas and gingers. If you can find native ones, they are usually easier to get growing in tough conditions. Start with small plants…it will probably be easier to get them in the ground without having to dig up too many roots and where you are, I’m guessing it doesn’t take too long for them to get big anyhow 🙂 Hope this helps!

  • I live in East Texas with Sugar Sand. It is like beach sand high in acid. I plant air plane plants(spider plants) under my trees. They freeze in the winter but come back in the spring. They do better than ferns or hosta. They were originally from Africa used as a ground cover.

  • I live in southeast central Ohio. My husband and I purchased a new home in the country last spring and are looking for ways to jazz up the 3 acres of cleared land. Thanks for sharing these great suggestions. Looks like we will have our work cut out for us next spring!

    • Thanks, Teri! I haven’t had much luck getting Annabelle to bloom very well in the shade, but it’s good to know it is possible 🙂

  • Susan, boxwood is definitely deer resistant. My parents’ rhododendrons got eaten by deer this winter, but the boxwood shrubs right next to the rhododendrons were left untouched. Not even nibbled!
    They live right across the road from a state park and protected wetland, so they get plenty of deer and other wildlife on their property.

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