Shrubs for mostly shade...

jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)February 13, 2008

I have compiled a list of shrubs that I think are shade tolerant that I can choose from to plant between my lawn and my neighbors house for privacy (to the right side of the included picture). I tried several plants there and they just won't grow without more sunlight (wrong plants I guess). The plants I listed are: Pieris japonica 'Mountain Fire', Pieris ÂForest FlameÂ, Viburnum,

Mountain Laurel (kalmia latifolia), Rhododendron, Skimmia Japonica, Aucuba japonica, Leucothoe and Hinoki "False" Cypress.

Also, I'm getting on in age and I don't want to have to wait 10-15 years to see these plants mature to around 4-5' to a nice natural privacy blocker from my neighbor.

Coupled with that is the fact that I have snakes around the area in the summer and I don't want shrubs that will lay on the ground and hide those belly-sliders ... like to have them where I can prune them up off the ground and still look nice. That whole strip on the right side had been mulched with cedar chips, and I'll add more in a few weeks. Give your thoughts, please.

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If you want viburnum, I think that specifically Viburnum acerifolium is more shade tolerant than others.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 6:56AM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

Some others are:Calycanthus, Enkianthus, Viburnum Sieboldii, Donald Wyman in "Shrubs and Vines for American Gardeners" lists shrubs for shade and shrubs of various heights.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 9:39PM
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Does this area get sun at all?

Most (but not all) viburnums are pretty slow growers. Exceptions include v x bodnantense, the winter blooming Dawn viburnum, which can take "part" shade, especially from deciduous trees, but likes a few hours of sun.

Check with your extension service about the prevalence of viburnum leaf beetle in your area and, if you plant any viburnums, make sure they're the resistant types.

Also, I wonder what shrubs you've tried and whether they didn't grow well more because of a lack of water - that's often the problem when planting near trees. The shrubs you list will all tolerate shade, but some of them are fairly small for use in a privacy screen - at least, where I live, skimmia rarely reaches over 3' in height.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 10:11PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

How tall a screen are you wanting? To the best of my knowledge, many of your listed plants won't get overly tall - Leucothoe axillaris to 4', L. fontanesiana to 6' (slowly), L. racemosa to 6-8'; Aucuba can get over 10', but does so slowly and rarely, more like 4-6'; Pieris floribunda to 6', P. japonica to 9' (slowly), many smaller cultivars, but I think the 2 you mention are as large as the species; Kalmia latifolia to 6-8' (slowly); Skimmia japonica to 5' (slowly). Depending on the cultivar, the Rhododendrons can get tall, but again, slowly. If you don't have the rhododendron borer in your area, then you can select taller growing cultivars.

What about camellias - again slow, but attractive? Some hollies could do well in the less shady parts. The native azaleas aren't evergreen, but can take shade, and the flowers are frequently scented. Loropetalum can get tall, and will flower in shade, either the burgundy leaf forms or the green leaf one, and they grow fast. Mahonia is another that grows relatively fast, if not as solid as mass as say, holly. Osmanthus are another possibility, mostly slow-growing. I would agree with the Calycanthus, as well as the viburnum suggestions. You could also try other natives, such as Clethra (possibly short, and deciduous), Illicium (taller, evergreen), Wax Myrtle, Lindera, Stewartia, Yaupon Holly, as well as Dogwood, Redbud, Fringetree, Serviceberry, Witch hazel, etc., etc.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 11:45PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Thanks folks. You threw a bunch out there to ponder. As I said above, this is a natural strip between our properties with some trees and a lot of open spaces. I can sit on my front porch and see directly across my yard to their driveway, cars, and front door. This is getting more and more unacceptable by the week, as I spend a lot of time on my porch.

As you can see from the pic I have some pretty tall trees surrounding the property and the only sun that part of the natural strip gets is in the morning for no more than 2-3 hours in the summer...a little more on the right front side of that pic. I tried a euonymus fortunei, a couple of bare-rooted Abelia Rose Creek's and some deer-eaten camellias that either are growing slow or not getting enough sun and water...or both. They were growing but very slowly over 2 growing seasons, and it became apparent that that was not the place for those plants.

I am wanting something fast growing or if not fast at least big enough to provide some privacy blocking. Would a couple of Hinoki False Cypress's fit in that little strip? I know it would do the sight-blocking pretty well (5-8' would be nice). Your suggestions to be aware of the drought conditions in my area is well taken, but I'm willing to try to establish something and hope the rain will be enough.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 6:27AM
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They were growing but very slowly over 2 growing seasons

Don't forget the old adage: "first they sleep, then they creep, and then they leap"

I've had many a plant take off in the third season. Of course you may just have too much shade.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 6:35AM
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bogturtle(SE NJ 7a)

I am confident that many of these plants mentioned will grow, but, as was stated, they may be slow, at first. Some, naturally, are slow, like Kalmia. Here, despite the mature forest, we have a natural understory of Ilex opaca and Kalmia.You cannot see through,and can hardly walk through. The Leucothoe, I planted years ago, are 6 foot tall, despite their drooping nature. Were Camellia and Sarcococca mentioned? Some Camellia are described as fast growing and Sarcococca, of some sorts, might grow tall enough.
Many of the plants mentioned are naturally found at the woodland edge, so, it seems to me, they only require the purchase of big, expensive plants, or considerable patience.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 8:09AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Do any of you know much about the False Cypress? Would a couple of Hinoki False Cypress' fit in that little strip? I've read some write-ups on it and there seems to be conflicting thoughts on it's appearance as it ages. Some so-called experts don't like them, but it would give me fairly immediate fencing.

esh - I moved those plants to a full sun location late laste summer and they have doubled in size ... so, I think the lack of abundant sun may have been the culprit.

bogturtle - the Sarcococca you mentioned sounds like it could fit. Don't think I've ever seen one, and buying "big, expensive plants" might be an altenative if I could find someone who has them. I admit I haven't been hitting the nurseries yet, but I doubt I'd find large-sized containers of these mentioned this time of year.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 9:48AM
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I do like Illicium floridanum (the red flowered one). It has done well for me in shade. And when I pass by it, I can't help but break off a leaf to smell it. (Luckily I don't pass it that often!)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 10:16AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Illicium floridanum is good for shade, as is myrica cerifera/southern wax myrtle. Southern wax myrtle is evergreen, fast growing, and I've seen it growing in every type of situation from flooded to bone dry, from full sun to deep shade.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 10:53AM
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Illicium floridanum is rated for zone 7 - in a bad winter you might lose it. If you see it growing tall near where you live, it is probably a good choice, otherwise, I wouldn't use anything that could be considered only marginally hardy for a privacy screen. Been there, done that!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 1:29PM
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Hinoki cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa, is a wonderful small tree and with endless cultivars to choose from. Some are very slow growing and will remain very small and most would appreciate at least some degree of direct sun - several hours of morning sun would be ideal. With as many different cultivars as there are on offer, there's an equally wide number of forms and growth habits. Slender Hinoki cypress, C. obtusa 'Gracilis', is a selection that is very common here and used frequently for both screening and specimen planting purposes. It's quite sculptural in stature with a definite Asian character - it doesn't look like a typical "Christmas tree" conifer.

You might want to take this specific question about Hinokis to the Conifers forum for more input - I have no idea how well they do in the high summer heat and humidity conditions of NC but they love the PNW.

If you are looking for coniferous screening, I'd also suggest Cyrptomeria japonica 'Elegans'. This is a conifer that is quite shade tolerant, has a very soft touch, has a reasonable growth rate yet remains of modest size and is used widely in the South. Neither it or the Hinoki are particularly drought tolerant, however.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 9:30AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Thank you gardengal48 for your excellent post and taking time to enlighten me. Exactly the post I was looking for.

I said Hinoki, but now looking at the "Boulevard" variety, since it's reportedly faster growing. Don't know much about any of these, but I will look into the Cyrptomeria japonica 'Elegans' that you have recommended.

Bottom line: I've been in this home for 22 years and will probably die here, but I'm trying to make it more appealing to prospective buyers for "curb appeal", should anything happen to me, so my wife can sell quickly should she decide to do so.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 5:55PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

A lady who runs a nursery in my area has suggested Chindo viburnum (Viburnum x awabuki 'Chindo') as a privacy screen. It looks nice and has blooms also. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 6:32AM
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I have 3 that I planted in late 2003 as 3 gallon plants. They get full morning sun - no blooms yet. They are quite tall now (about 8-10 feet), but not well formed. They sent up several tall stems each so now they are bushy at the bottom, skinny in the middle and leafy at the top. Hopefully they will send up more leafy growth for the middle, otherwise I might have to prune them down to about 5 feet and let them have another go at it.

Their tender growth got badly zapped in the April freeze last year and they looked pretty ugly for a while. But they did come out of that ok.

Pretty nice leaves and they have done well in the drought.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 6:50AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

esh - would these plants fall in that category along with camillas, gardenias, euonymus, etc that would need to be sprayed with that copper sulfate (or whatever it's called) once a year for that Sudden Oak Death that was hitting everything a couple of years ago? I haven't inspected mine yet, but I will this weekend.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 7:41AM
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Yes, issue that affects oaks (caused by a fungus known as Phytophthora ramorum), causing sudden oak death, can also affect viburnums, camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons.

I don't know if copper sulfate is "the current" treatment, but if you google the two terms together, apparently it has been used.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 9:43AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Yeah, I think I got the wrong one. I believe it was copper hydroxide as a fungi/bacti killer.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 7:40AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Just a quick update: I selected 10 Chindo Viburnums and 4 Southern Wax Myrtles to the job, for now. They planted them last Sat. and they look great. The Chindos are very hearty at 3-4' and the wax myrtles at about 3' but kinda spindley looking, but still starting to bud out. Still looking for that 8-10' Autumn Brilliance in my area, but what they have doesn't look that great for what they have them priced for.

Think I got a nice start on this privacy screen though, and thanks to all you fine folks for your contributions.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 6:08AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

You're gonna love the Chindos!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 8:56AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Thanks, I hope your right. They look very impressive right now, and I haven't seen anything yet. I understand after a while they'll bloom and there's also great fall color.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 6:25AM
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