Shade Tolerant Trees and Shrubs

The previous issue of the Horticulture and Home Pest News contained a list of perennials that perform well in partial to heavy shade. A number of trees and shrubs can also be successfully grown in partial shade.

Trees and Shrubs Adapted to Partial Shade

Common Name Scientific Name Height Comments
Five-Leaf Aralia Acanthopanax sieboldianus 3-6 feet Has prickly stems, makes good barrier plant.
Serviceberry Amelanchier spp. 10-25 feet White flowers in spring, good fall color.
Mentor Barberry Berberis x mentorensis 3-6 feet Thorny stems, excellent hedge plant. Hardiness zone 5.
American Hornbeam Carpinus caroliniana 20-25 feet Large, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree.
Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis 20-25 feet Small tree that produces flowers in spring. Hardiness zone 5.
Pagoda Dogwood Cornus alternifolia 15-25 feet Small, native tree with branching habit. Yellow-white flowers.
Gray Dogwood Cornus racemosa 8-10 feet Suckering shrub.
Common Witchhazel Hamamelis virginiana 12-15 feet Small, yellow flowers and foliage in fall.
Smooth Hydrangea Hydrangea arborescens 3-5 feet Large flower clusters in summer.
Japanese Kerria Kerria japonica 3-6 feet Upright arching shrub, yellow June. Hardiness zone 5.
Russian Cypress Microbiota decussata 12 inches Low, spreading evergreen. Foliage resembles arborvitae.
Ironwood Ostrya virginiana 25-40 feet Small, slow-growing tree. Can be difficult to establish.
Rhododendron Rhododendron spp. Variable Good choices for Iowa include 'PMJ','Aglo,' and 'Olga Mezitt.'
Black Jetbead Rhodotypos scandens 4-6 feet Not showy, but a tough, durable shrub. Hardiness zone 5.
Alpine Currant Ribes alpinum 3-6 feet Good hedge plant, tolerates pruning well.
Snowberry Symphoricarpos spp. 3-6 feet Plants produce white, pink, or purple fruit.
Canadian Hemlock Tsuga canadensis 40-50 feet Attractive, graceful tree. Prefers moist, well-drained soils. Dislikes hot, dry sites.
Yew Taxus spp. Variable Most shade tolerant evergreen. Adapts well to pruning.
Arrowwood Viburnum Viburnum dentatum 6-8 feet Hardy, adaptable shrub. Produces white flowers in spring and blue fruit in fall.
Blackhaw Viburnum Viburnum prunifolium 12-15 feet Large, multi-stemmed shrub or small, rounded tree.

Unless noted, all of the above trees and shrubs are hardythroughout Iowa.

This article originally appeared in the June 24, 1994 issue, p. 100.

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