Shrubs for Full shade and really dry area

misslucindaJune 17, 2008

It's about a 12' gap in my screening between an Ash and a Sugar Maple. I have watched the light patterns and with the exception of the time in the spring before the leaves pop, it's a sunless spot. I would like an evergreen (pref. deer resistant)which grows 5' or taller.

I looked at Cherry Laurel, or Prunus Laurocerasus 'Schipkaensis' but my local nursery owner says it really does not do well here and is easily wind damaged and the position is exposed from the west. Instead, he suggested Buxus Sempervirens. I find it hard to believe this shrub would take full shade.

I am just scratching my head in confusion and hoping someone here can shed some light (to make a bad pun) on this matter. I am most appreciative of your suggestions

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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Evergreen or deciduous? Broadleaf or conifer?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 1:49PM
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I would like an evergreen (pref. deer resistant)which grows 5' or taller.

There aren't a lot of choices for evergreens in shade in zone 6. Hemlock used to be a great choice, but the wooly adelgid has become a serious pest for that plant. Toss in the deer resistant requirement and there isn't much left to choose from!

I found a link in the NY times that says:

Shade-tolerant trees and shrubs: Evergreen shrubs and trees include yew, rhododendron, leucothoe, azalea, holly and andromeda.

Unfortunately, I know several of those are tasty to deer. Leucothoe fontanesiana is supposed to be less tasty, however.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:20PM
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Hi Dave.

Evergreen. I am not picky whether it's a broadleaf evergreen or a conifer although the conifers I have in shade on my property (Norway spruce) have gall on their branch tips, are missing lower branches and just don't look happy. Further, Hemlock is out of the question because we have the adelgid here and I have about 60 trees that are getting sucked dry by those critters and I still haven't decided whether it makes sense to spray or not...but that's another post.

I think it was Gardengal48 who provided a list on this forum of shade and deer tolerant shrubs; that's how I discovered Shipka Laurel and Aucuba. But the former gets ratty looking here and the latter is too short...ditto Leucothoe. Bummer. Have any ideas?... (and thanks for your interest).


    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:27PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Aucubas CAN reach 5 feet. Would Viburnum tinus grow in NY? Or a clipped yew? Or Eleagnus ebingii? Or a holly? Or Pyracantha?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 4:45PM
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Viburnums, yews, Aucuba, Holly all grow very happily in southern NY state.

The real issue here is the sugar maple. I have researched this nine ways from Sunday and I don't think there is any shrub which will survive in the spot given the plethora of surface roots and dense maple canopy (but I would love to have someone prove me wrong).

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 5:07PM
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Not a conifer: Jetbead, or Rhodotypus (the suffix may be misspelled)does well here in shady roots of 4 0r 5 sugar maples. It is not glamourous, but has pretty white flowers for a week, and the green is a clear green, not muddy. It may worth trying Kerria japonica. There's a relatively new one with big yellow flowers. I love Kerria Japonica Variegata, but I do not think it is as vigorous as the species; I wouldn't put it where there is a great amount of root competition. Is there a reason it has to be an evergreen or conifer? You sure broaden your choices if you would be willing to use some deciduous plants

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 11:42PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Not evergreen, but Eleutherococcus sieboldianus variegatus is a very handsome, slow growing shrub with lovely variegated leaves for dry shade. Grows slowly to 6-8 feet high and wide.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 6:13AM
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leslies(z7 No VA)

I would also suggest the eleutherococcus. I have two, one closer to the silver maple (and under the canopy all day). Of the two, the one that is farther away is a bit taller, but both are holding their own and the bright leaves look nice in the deep shade. During last summer's really dry spell, I watered the one closest to the tree several times. This year, we've had so much rain that, even now, in mid-June, the soil in the maple's root zone remains damp.

The shrubs I have now were planted as sticks in the summer of 2006 and are about 3' high. With more sun and more reliable water, they would grow a good bit faster. The one in my z5 garden was 5' tall by the end of its third growing season and was filling out well.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 2:05PM
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Firethorn (Pyracantha Coccinea) "Orange Charmer" is Semi-evergreen and takes full shade. It will grow to 6 or 7 feet tall. Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)might work as well but is likely only to get 5 feet tall max. I think. Look in to Japanese Pieris. I had one once and really loved it but then I moved to a cooler zone and can't grow it any longer. Most get to about 5 feet tall.
Best of luck!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 1:56PM
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greenguy1(z7 Maryland)

Picking up on Idabean's post, I would try the non-variegated Kerria japonica - very adapatable to dry shade, and the green ones are more vigorous, they might compete with the maple better than most things. It even blooms (yellow) quite well in deep shade, and though not evergreen, the bright green stems are very ornamental during the winter. Many named varieties out there, 'Pleniflora' has small double flowers, 'Golden Guinea' has large (2" diameter +/-) golden yellow single flowers, 'Albiflora' has pale creamy yellow flowers, also large like the 'Golden Guinea.'

- Steve

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 7:25AM
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Okay, am going to look into the Kerria japonica and some of the other suggestions here. However, are you folks suggesting that I purchase bareroot so as to disturb the Maple roots less?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 10:55AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Bare root would probably be fine IF you water, but probably won't be available now - mostly they have been potted up, themselves. Plants are sold bare root mostly for spring or fall planting, not summer planting.

I would look for gallon-pot plants rather than 3- to 7-gallon pot plants - while you get a bigger plant, the root system is, more than likely, also bigger. Do check to be sure that the plant isn't root bound in the pot, however, having the roots circling round and round, as this is not good. You will have to untangle the roots or cut them off. The one means a bigger hole, and the other is more stress to the plant.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 1:07PM
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You might also consider Euonymus kiautschovicus 'Manhattan' which grows for me in the dry shade of a ghastly Norway maple, a stockade fence, and a kousa dogwood - essentially, between a rock and a hard place.

It is an upright but somewhat lax (but not a clinging vine) type with glossy bright green leaves that will assume any shape you need. I don't know about deer resistance, but it seems to be made of steel and can take any sort of conditions. It grows fairly quickly, though not rampantly, and can be propagated easily.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 9:24AM
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I have Taxus capitata, Pierus japonica and Ilex mesearve 'Blue Princess' in my dry shade bed up against the woods edge. However, I do get a little bit of morning sun and I don't have maples. The Pierus gets the least sun and it is thriving.

In the woods (read: practically no sun) I put a Kerria Japonica and it blooms just fine. Its a great sight to see that color early in the season. The bright green stems provide a little winter interest.

Even though dogwood shrubs (cornus alba 'Ivory Halo') are supposed to like moist conditions, I put one in dry shade and it is fine. Not sure about under a maple though.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 9:28PM
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I have a number of Pieris Japonicas on my property and they stumble along with a little morning sun and dappled light but I don't think they would make it in the area at issue.

You are the second one to mention the Kerria Japonica and I am
interested in that shrub. My biggest problem though are those Maple roots...

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 1:03PM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

I have an enkianthus under a big old white pine so I assume it is dry and it certainly is shaded.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 10:30PM
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