Evergreen shrub for shade

queenacresFebruary 18, 2009

Help... I would like to plant a few 3-5' evergreen shrub (or second choice is grasses) on the north side of my house which is mostly in shade all day. I already have hostas and Hakone grasses but want something taller behind those to complement. I was thinking of boxwoods. Any other suggestions?

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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I don't know if they'd be hardy in your zone, but Camellias, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Loropetalum, and Osmanthus would all fill the bill beautifully.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 1:52PM
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Illicium floridium

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 2:11PM
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Oops! Forget that suggestion. I see you are in zone 5.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 2:13PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Donna - many of those shrubs get much larger than 3-5' tall and wide. Rhododendrons get well over 12' tall in time, as do most Camellias. After researching Loropetalum, and Osmanthus, I see that they both get taller than 10 feet. Azaleas seem to be the only recommendation that seems reasonable, as they usually don't tend to get super large. I'm not sure how evergreen it would be down to zone 5 though. My azaleas had a tough time this winter when we had a storm and the temperatures dipped down to 10ºF.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 2:23PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Let's start this thread all over again ;-)

The classic is yew. It will handle anything you are liable to throw at it, with the notable exception of deer.

Boxwood might work. They will winterburn if it gets too cold for the variety or if they are exposed to winter wind.

Rhododendrons are going to need wind protection, deer protection and acidic soil. IME, if you have what they want they are very easy. If you don't, don't bother.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 2:59PM
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Not sure if these are right for MI, but what about a holly or mountain laurel? If it were me, I'd put in hollies in the situation you describe. They'd be happier in the shade than the boxwoods, and there are so many choices, and they're lovely, great texture and color variety for your landscape. I love my coastal leucothoes too, but they are so low to the ground, I think you might want something more upright. Also just checked and they only go to 6a.

Yes some of the things suggested in the thread can get big, but in a shady spot, that can take a very long time, and it's easy to keep ahead of the growth when it's so slow. Unless it's bright or only partial shade, I wouldn't worry about size too much.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 9:06AM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

I guess I'm just extra adult-size conscious. The previous homeowners put a rhododendron in our front garden bed that's pretty much full shade and now it's taller than the roof and we can't see out of our front window.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 9:50AM
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I don't know if your still reading this thread or not,
but there are hundreds of varities of rhododendrums.
Some are ground covers, some are real small dwarf plants, and yet others are giants.
There is a nursery rare finds plant nursery, they sell many different kinds of rhodos.
They have one for your yard that won't get too big.
It is ashame you can't try sweet box shrub.
They are hardy to zone 6.
You could try it, mabey if you mulch real well, you never know.
They are gorgeous! The smell is wonderful and they bloom in January and February.
My friend is in zone 6 and she is going to plant one in her front yard this spring in the shade.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 12:50AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Sorry I have been absent from this forum for awhile. I apologize for not reading the original post more carefully as to the size requirements.

Just as a note, Loropetalum chinense is available in two sizes other than jumbo. Purple Diamond tops out at four feet. Purple Pixie at about two feet by two feet. Again, I have no idea if they are winter hardy for you, but if so, they are strikingly beautiful shrubs with four season interest: very showy spring flowers with purple foliage, good blue-green summer foliage, brilliant red coloring mixed into the green in fall, and evergreen in winter.

IF they are hardy, Camellia sasanqua Hot Flash and Shishigashira will mature at around 3' by 4' and are shrubs of the highest caliber in my opinion. Good, clean, evergreen foliage and lovely fall/winter flowers.

Osmanthus Goshiki with evergreen green/cream variegated foliage is a fairly dwarf shrub, topping out at 3 to 4 feet. It grows so slowly, it could easily be kept pruned to any size you like. Osmanthus heterophyllus Variegata gets larger, but again is a very slow grower, so can be kept where you want it sizewize. It just might be my very favorite shade plant with clean, sprakling white variegation on dark green leaves. It just lights up its space planted among white hydrangeas.

Again, I have no idea about hardiness for you with any of these shrubs.

One holly I would also recommend is Ilex cornuta O'Spring. It has yellow and green variegated shiny leaves and is gorgeous.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 10:02PM
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Loropetalum is a full sun shrub in zone 7, I imagine it would want full sun further north as well. In addition, it is just barely evergreen in the Atlanta area. After our low temps of 10 F this winter, all the ones in my neighborhood look quite 'burned'.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 9:19AM
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Actually, Loropetalum is quite shade tolerant in zone 7, but regardless, it's not hardy past zone 7 according to most sources, so wouldn't work for the OP.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 9:37AM
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Planted 3 skimmias a year ago. they are round, about 15"
in diameter. they have not grown but look healthy.
How large will they get? I need evergreens that are 3-5'.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 6:15PM
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