- Flowering shrubs for shade – Top picks for the garden & yard
- 16 Flowering Shrubs for Shade
- Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
- Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica)
- Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
- Slender deutzia (Deutzia gracilis)
- Glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)
- Witch hazel (Hamamelis spp.)
- Virginia sweet spire (Itea virginica)
- Oregon holly grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
- Japanese pieris/Andromeda (Pieris japonica)
- Sweet shrub/Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floiridis)
- Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
- Coralberry/snowberry (Symphoricarpus spp.)
- Rhodies and Azaleas
- Evergreen azaleas (Rhododendron )
- Deciduous azaleas (Rhododendron )
- Rhododendron (Rhododendron species, hybrids, and cultivars)
- PJM Rhododendron (Rhododendron x PJM)
- Gardening: plants to love
- Discover 6 great flowering shrubs for shade
Flowering shrubs for shade – Top picks for the garden & yard
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If you’re a gardener or homeowner with a lot of shade on your property, you may find yourself struggling to find plants that thrive and bloom with minimal sunlight, especially when it comes to shrubs. While there are many colorful flowering perennials and annuals for shade, there are far fewer shrubs with vivid blooms for shady conditions. Today, I’d like to introduce you to 16 flowering shrubs for shade to fill your landscape with color from early spring through fall. There’s even a shrub for shade that blooms in the winter on this list!
16 Flowering Shrubs for Shade
The large, conical flowers of oakleaf hydrangea appear in summer.
Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
A wide-spreading, 6-foot-tall, North American native shrub for shade, oakleaf hydrangea deserves a home in every shady landscape. Even in the winter the peeling bark of the oakleaf hydrangea is deserving of our attention. The large, oak leaf-like leaves turn an amazing orange and then a deep burgundy in the autumn. Large, cone-shaped panicles of creamy white flowers are produced from the woody stems in summer. The merits of this shrub for shade cannot be stressed enough. It’s a personal favorite for its four-season interest. Hardy to -20 degrees F.
Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica)
Kerria is a small genus of underused flowering shrubs for shade (or sun!). The plants have bright green stems and leaves, and sunny yellow flowers. These shrubs are very tolerant of shade and poor soil. Thin out the old stems every few years by cutting them back to the ground just after the plant flowers. Kerrias are prolific bloomers that reach a height of 6 feet. The inch-wide flowers are produced in spring. The cultivar ‘Pleniflora’ has double flowers and a taller, more vigorous growth habit.
Mountain laurels are stunning evergreen flowering shrubs for shade. Plus, they’re deer resistant!
Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
Laurels are evergreen flowering shrubs for shade that are native to the eastern U.S. The leaves are smooth-edged and glossy, dark green. The large clusters of tea cup-shaped flowers are absolutely stunning (albeit a little sticky). They appear on the plants in late spring and can be purple, pink, white, or bicolored. This woodland flowering shrub is hardy to -30 degrees F and has many different cultivars. Spreads 5 to 15 feet tall and wide, and has a rounded, yet open shape. Choose a shady location for this shrub, and make sure the soil is acidic by fertilizing with a granular, acid-specific fertilizer annually.
Slender deutzia offers arching branches of white flowers every spring.
Slender deutzia (Deutzia gracilis)
These spring-blooming flowering shrubs for shade are deciduous and vase-shaped. They’re easy to grow in average garden soil and require very little care. Topping out at around 5 feet tall, they can be kept smaller by pruning them just after they bloom. The prolific flowers are pure white and nearly an inch wide. Each five-petaled flower lasts for several weeks. Slender deutzia is hardy to -20 degrees F. Though deutzia flowers best in areas that receive full sun, this shrub is quite tolerant of partial to moderate shade, though dense shade should be avoided. The dwarf cultivar ‘Yuki Cherry’ has pink petals for added interest.
The tubular, spring blooms of glossy abelia are a welcome sight to many spring pollinators.
Glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)
This semi-evergreen shrub grows between 3 to 6 feet tall and thrives in areas of full sun to moderate shade, though flowering is better where the plant receives at least a few hours of sun per day. The arching branches produce clusters of small, but showy, tubular flowers. The blooms are white with a blush of pink. This hybrid abelia is hardy to -10 degrees F and blooms in summer. This plant flowers on new growth, so it can easily be pruned back hard and still bloom in the very same season. The variety ‘Edward Goucher’ is a shorter selection that produces larger, lavender blooms.
Winter-blooming witch hazel species have so much to offer shady spots in the landscape.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis spp.)
There is nothing better than a witch hazel when it comes to surprises. Just when you think there’s nothing in bloom in the garden, the witch hazel struts its stuff! Among the only winter-flowering shrubs for shade, Vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) pops out fringe-like yellow, rust, or red-colored blooms in the dead of winter. Chinese witch hazel (H. mollis) is another winter-blooming selection, while common witch hazel (H. virginiana) blooms in fall. Most witch hazels are hardy to -10 degrees, though some are hardier and others less so, depending on the species. Witch hazels are deciduous and easy to grow in ordinary garden soil, but moist areas are best. With a structure much like a small tree, these flowering shrubs for shade have an added bonus: the blooms of many varieties are also fragrant! Those seeking North American natives should plant common witch hazel or vernal witch hazel.
The fragrant, elongated blooms of Virginia sweet spire are followed by red foliage in the autumn.
Virginia sweet spire (Itea virginica)
This North American native shrub blooms in summer and is hardy down to -20 degrees F. Long panicles of creamy white flowers drip from the stems in mid summer. While this shrub does well in full sun, it’s surprisingly tolerant of shade, too. The deciduous nature of the plant means there are no leaves on it during the winter, but in the fall, the foliage turns a deep red-purple that’s just stunning. The fragrant blooms are adored by many of our native pollinators. ‘Little Henry’ is a great dwarf variety.
Oregon holly grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
The low-growing habit of these flowering shrubs for shade makes it a good fit for foundation plantings, garden beds, and shrub borders. Their evergreen leaves are compound, and the yellow, fragrant flowers are borne in long panicles. In the fall, the plant is covered in small, dark berries. Oregon holly grape prefers a shady spot that’s protected from winter winds. It reaches 6 feet in height and is hardy down to -20 degrees F.
When the pink buds of this Japanese pieris open, they’ll reveal clusters of tiny, bell-shaped, white flowers that smell sweet.
Japanese pieris/Andromeda (Pieris japonica)
When I was a kid, we had a pair of Japanese pieris flanking our front walk. My mother called them “pierce-a-ponicas” which I though was their real name until I took a shrub ID class in college. Despite my mom’s mispronunciation of the name, I grew to really love these amazing flowering shrubs for shade. They’re deer resistant, evergreen, and very winter hardy. Large clusters of slightly fragrant, white, bell-shaped blooms extend from the ends of the branches in early spring and are a favorite of queen bumblebees and other early pollinators. The plants grow to 10 feet in height, especially in protected sites where they’re sheltered from drying winter winds. Some cultivars, such as ‘Mountain Fire‘, have vivid red new growth in the spring, while other cultivars, such as ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ and ‘Flamingo’, have pink flowers instead of white.
Carolina allspice is a knock-your-socks-off flowering shrub for shady areas that produces sweet/spicy scented blooms.
Sweet shrub/Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floiridis)
Oh how I love sweet shrubs! These fragrant, gorgeous, North American native flowering shrubs for shade are so delightful. Topping out at 8 feet in height, this deciduous shrub produces uniquely shaped, dark purple-pink blooms along the length of its stems. Spring blooming and perfect for sites that are anywhere from partial shade to full sun, Carolina sweet shrubs do best in well-draining soils, though they’ll do just fine in average garden soil as long as they’re irrigated during dry spells.
Smooth hydrangeas are reliable bloomers, even in shady conditions.
Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
Another North American native hydrangea for shade, the smooth hydrangea has so much to offer. With an upright but open shape and excellent winter hardiness (down to -20 degrees F), these flowering shrubs for shade produce globe-shaped clusters of creamy white blooms in high summer. Topping out around 4 feet tall, the straight species is lovely, but showier cultivars, such as ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Grandiflora’, produce larger blooms. Unlike many other hydrangea species, the flowers of smooth hydrangea are produced on new growth, so pruning can take place in the early spring and there’s no chance of cutting off the current season’s blooms.
Coralberries and snowberries aren’t known for their flowers, but their clusters of berries add a decorative element to shade gardens.
Coralberry/snowberry (Symphoricarpus spp.)
Ok, so, I’m cheating a bit here. While coralberries and snowberries are flowering shrubs for shade, they’re much better known for their berries than they are for their flowers. These hardy, deciduous shrubs are North American natives that produce fairly small, unremarkable blooms, but their berries are just lovely in the autumn and winter landscape. Some species serve as a host plant for the day-flying snowberry clearwing moth (also called the hummingbird moth). The snowberry (S. albus) grows to 4 feet and produces pink flowers followed by white fruits. It’s hardy down to -50 degrees F. The coralberry (S. orbiculatus) has white flowers followed by coral-colored fruits. Plus, the fall foliage is a lovely crimson.
Rhodies and Azaleas
What we gardeners commonly call rhododendrons and azaleas are actually one very large genus of plants botanically classified in the genus Rhododendron. Gardeners distinguish rhododendrons from azaleas by how their flowers are produced. Azalea flowers are funnel-shaped and borne singly, while rhododendron flowers are larger and produced in clusters. All rhododendrons are evergreen, but there are both evergreen and deciduous azalea species. Regardless, both rhododendrons and azaleas are great flowering shrubs for shade. They are both attractive to early season pollinators and make beautiful statements in partial to full shade. Here are some excellent varieties of both rhodies and azaleas.
Azaleas are excellent flowering evergreen shrubs for shade.
Evergreen azaleas (Rhododendron )
Most evergreen azaleas are native to Asia, but a few species are native to North America. There are thousands of evergreen azalea species, hybrids, and cultivars – so many that it’s difficult to keep them straight. Azaleas can range in height from mini varieties that top out at just 2 feet tall, all the way up to full-sized specimens that grow to 8 feet in height. Azaleas produce a wide range of flower colors, from salmon pink and white to purple, red, and lavender. Their hardiness varies, though many are hardy to -20 degrees F. If you’re looking for a great flowering evergreen shrub for shade, azaleas are a terrific choice.
Deciduous azaleas are another terrific shrub for shade. The elongated flowers appear in early spring.
Deciduous azaleas (Rhododendron )
Deciduous azaleas are among my favorite flowering shrubs for shade. While their branches are bare in the winter, the clusters of tubular flowers that appear in spring are real show-stoppers. My favorite group of deciduous azaleas are the Exbury hybrids. These upright azaleas reach a height of 4 to 5 feet and produce trusses of flowers that can be red, pink, cream, orange, or yellow. Hardy to -20 degrees F, these flowering shrubs for shade prefer well-drained soils high in organic matter. The royal azalea (R. schlippenbachii) is another deciduous species that grows up to 10 feet tall, with leaves clustered at the end of the twigs and pink flowers in the spring.
Rhododendrons are arguably the most recognizable flowering shrub for shade.
Rhododendron (Rhododendron species, hybrids, and cultivars)
Rhododendrons are a large group of woody plants with broad, evergreen leaves. The bell-shaped flowers are borne in huge clusters at the ends of the stems. The showy flowers each have 5 to 10 stamens and are treasured by bigger bee species and butterflies. Rhododendrons prefer well-drained, acid soil with lots of organic matter. Use sulfur or a granular fertilizer formulated specifically for evergreens. Partial and dappled shade is best for rhododendrons; deep shade may reduce flowering. However, some species and hybrids are more tolerant of deep shade than others.
Rhododendrons may exhibit winter die-back during years of particularly cold weather or in windy areas. Larger species, such as R. catawbiense, can grow 10 feet tall, while shorter species, such as R. yakusimanum, reaches just 3 feet in height. All rhododendrons bloom in spring. Their hardiness varies, depending on the species, but most are hardy to at least -10 degrees F with many species exhibiting hardiness way beyond that.
PJM rhodies have purple leaves in the winter and produce flowers in the spring, sometimes with a second smattering of blooms in the fall.
PJM Rhododendron (Rhododendron x PJM)
This group of broadleaf evergreen rhododendrons is a delightful addition to any shady garden. They’re among the hardiest of all flowering shrubs for shade, surviving easily down to -30 degrees F. PJMs grow up to 6 feet tall and wide. The bright lavender-pink flowers appear in spring, often with a smattering of reblooms in the autumn. Just like other rhododendrons, PJMs prefer acidic soil that’s well drained. This group of hybrids produces compact growth and small, dark leaves. It’s hardier than many other rhododendron types and the foliage turns a deep purple in the winter.
For more exceptional plants for your landscape, check out the following posts:
- Perennials for shade
- Annuals for the shade
- Small-stature flowering shrubs for sun
- Dwarf evergreen trees
- 3 Small flowering trees
- Compact evergreen shrubs
Do you grow any of these terrific flowering shrubs for shade? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below!
Gardening: plants to love
By Katie Jackson
It’s February, the month when we celebrate love, and if you want to establish a more loving relationship with your landscape and garden there is no time like the present to find a botanical soulmate—or mates.
While fall is prime planting season for trees, shrubs and many other perennials, most can still be planted successfully from now through early spring. But, as with all good long-term relationships, compatibility is key to a successful future so take time this month to explore your options before you commit.
Personally, I’m drawn to plants that are both good looking and low-maintenance. Luckily, I can find just that combination of virtues in plants that have roots right here in Alabama and the Southeast: native plants.
Native plants are already adapted to our environment so they are capable of flourishing without much pampering. They’re also supportive and nurturing, providing food and shelter for birds, insects and wildlife in our ecosystems. And there are so many to choose among—trees, shrubs, ferns, vines, herbaceous perennials, grasses and bulbs—so there is a native plant to match any spot in the landscape.
Looking for something tall and handsome—a tree for instance? I am madly in love with silverbells and native dogwoods and magnolias, all of which are good-looking and give me flowers. But there are also plenty of other appealing options—both blooming and non-blooming, deciduous and evergreen—to consider, such as hickories, oaks, maples, cedars, plums and pines, to name a few.
Drawn to smaller plants that are big on looks? There are lots of potential matches on the native shrub list. If you love those flowers, try native azaleas and hydrangeas as well as buttonbushes, sweetshrubs, buckeyes and viburnums. Want a fruitful relationship? Native holly, beautyberry and winterberry shrubs produce gorgeous berries that are lovely to behold and loved by birds and other critters…or plant native blueberries so you and the wildlife can eat.
If you want plants that will stick around for a long time but still add lots of color to your life, explore the many choices of flowering native herbaceous perennials such as aster, hibiscus, phlox, coneflower, coreopsis, yarrow and many, many others.
Want something that gives you cover but won’t take over your life or landscape? Try native honeysuckle or wisteria, passion vine, trumpet vine and jasmine. Prefer something dignified but interesting? Native grasses, ranging from the whimsical, wispy color of purple muhly grass to the simple beauty of native sea oats or rushes, could be just the match. Have a yen for a shady character? Get yourself some Christmas, Southern wood, shield and lady ferns.
As you can see, the possibilities for new loves in your garden are extensive. Thankfully you don’t have to choose just one, but you may want to know more about them all before you commit. To my knowledge there is no online matchmaking service available to link gardeners with plants (though maybe that’s a great idea for some enterprising, tech-savvy entrepreneur). However, you can do your own research (online or at your local library or garden center) to find out more about each plant’s personality and traits. Three online options are the Plant Native website (www.plantnative.org/rpl-algams.htm), the Alabama Plant Atlas site (floraofalabama.org) and in the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s publication Herbaceous Perennials for Alabama (www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0566/ANR-0566.pdf). Another source of information on plants (both native and nonnative) that will stick with you for better or worse is Felder Rushing’s book Tough Plants for Southern Gardens.
As you’re looking for new loves, though, don’t forget your old flames. Take care of the plants that are already in your life and landscape and start planting those good-provider plants for the spring and summer. Now is the time to plant cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, beets, carrots, radishes, mustard, asparagus, English peas, Irish potatoes, onion sets and strawberries!
Divide and move perennials, unless they are beginning to show new growth.
Clean up limbs and other yard debris that may have fallen in the winter weather.
Order seeds for the spring and summer garden.
Plant roses and hardy perennials.
Transplant deciduous shrubs and trees unless the buds have begun to swell.
Start warm-season vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers and summer bedding plants, in cold frames or indoor settings now.
Prune summer flowering shrubs now. Don’t prune the spring bloomers until after they flower!
Check seeds you have saved from last year to make sure they are still viable (seed coat in good condition and not rotted).
Clean out moldy or sprouting seeds each time you refill bird feeders.
Give your sweetheart live plants, seeds or gardening tools for Valentine’s Day.
Attend gardening workshops and classes or get involved with your local gardening groups.
Shop for off-season garden supplies that may be on sale this time of year.
Repair and spruce up window boxes, lawn furniture, bird houses and feeders, garden tools and other outdoor equipment and items.
Spring typically finds the big box stores and nurseries absolutely stuffed with new plants. Shelves, tables, even sidewalks are loaded with dazzling specimens, each one more intriguing than the last. There is a plant sale almost every weekend.
Even the most jaded gardener succumbs to “spring fever.” Homeowners are so excited about warming days they are literally chomping at the bit, spending every spare moment “in the garden.” Runs to pick up bags of topsoil, soil conditioner and mulch become the norm.
Let us step back, however, and contemplate this long time behavior:
Spring is the worst time
to plant trees and shrubs.
This sounds almost like heresy. Spring in Alabama lasts a day — a week at the most — then it is summer.
Beating hot sun, humidity, drought and disease are ever-present. Those newly installed plants will be faced with the overwhelming tasks of putting on a good root system, blooming and maintaining healthy foliage in conditions that can make a strong man weep. These are tall orders; perhaps too much to ask of these delicate newbies.
Gardeners are faced with the unending work of trying to keep their new purchases not only alive but also healthy and beautiful, efforts that require moisture and regular human intervention.
As we saw this summer, we can have depressing drought conditions, where weeks can pass without a drop of rain. Many saw plants shrivel up and die even with their best efforts.
Regardless of how much we water, there is nothing like the miracle of rain. Our plants are not nearly as fond of the chemically treated water that comes out of our hoses as they are rain.
My training as a master gardener has pointed out the errors of my gardening habits. In the class “Care and Maintenance,” we learned that fall, not spring, is the best time to plant.
Probably not late September or early October, when the weather is still as dry as toast, but late October and early November, when Mother Nature finally decides to turn on the faucets.
Temperatures are dropping, and insects and diseases can present less of a challenge.
The real planting season has arrived! It is time to get truly excited about planting all those trees and ornamental shrubs we have been longing to have! Pull out those shovels, wheelbarrows, rakes and topsoil!
In the cooler (and even colder) season, our plants can devote their energy to establishing a tough, strong root system. They do not have to worry about putting on an impressive floral display and producing beautiful foliage.
Since it usually rains in Alabama in the winter, we are not tied to a hose. (One word of caution: if it does not rain regularly, newly planted ornamentals or trees may require additional irrigation.)
You might say, “There is nothing for sale to plant.” Another misconception! There are dozens of reputable online nurseries that are happy to mail out a variety of healthy plants. Or visit a locally owned nursery or one of the many garden centers just a short drive away. Even the big box stores are catching on to the fact that gardening is not just a spring obsession.
If you cannot take advantage of the fall planting season, the second-best planting season starts around the first of the year. As long as the ground is not frozen, we can plant. Intense cold weather can have its own set of issues, but our area is fortunate not to see unreasonable cold on a regular basis.
If you do give into spring madness and purchase a carload of new plants, you can set up a “holding nursery.” There, the latest additions can be babied over the summer and dropped into the ground as soon the “real” planting season is under way.
Sherry Blanton is a member of the Calhoun County Master Gardeners Association. Contact her at [email protected]
7 tips for fall planting
1. Keep in mind the mature size of a plant. A one-gallon plant can become 10 feet tall and almost that wide in a matter of years. Plants need to be spaced so air can circulate, so they do not have to compete for light and nutrients and so they do not need constant pruning to keep them in bounds. Ultimate size is especially important if you are choosing plants to grow under windows.
2. Understand the needs of a plant before purchasing it. Does it need to be planted in the sun or shade? What kind of soil does it need to thrive (acid or alkaline)? Does it require lots of care (deadheading, spraying, watering)? If a plant has a disease named after it — for example, euonymus scale — perhaps you should pass it by.
3. Keep in mind sight lines and underground or overground utilities before you plant. Remember the utility companies can create havoc with your precious tree if it is too close to a power line.
4. Understand your own expectations and personal constraints. If your time to garden is precious, it may be best not to choose high-maintenance plants that require lots of pruning, staking or fertilizing. Native plants are usually tougher and easier to handle for the time-deprived gardener.
5. Use plants with high water needs in special places only.
6. Group plants with the same needs together: sun-loving plants together, shade-loving plants together.
7. Newly planted plants will need careful monitoring for proper moisture their first summer and until they are well established, regardless of when they went into the ground.
Discover 6 great flowering shrubs for shade
Shade doesn’t have to be a liability to gardeners. While populating small shady corners with hostas, ferns, begonias and other shade-loving herbaceous plants brings texture and color to those areas, it’s more challenging to find the right flowering shrubs for larger shade-filled garden beds.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite flowering shrubs for shade. Whether you use them to spruce up your foundation plantings, add some color to a “tree island” in your front yard, or tuck them under large deciduous trees like oaks and maples, these shrubs thrive in areas that receive less than a few hours of sun per day. They do quite well under the filtered canopy of deciduous trees or on the north side of houses and other structures. They are understory shrubs that are meant to grow in areas with limited sunlight.
Compact Maximum Rhododendron (Rhododendron “Maximum Compacta”): A mini version of a traditional rhododendron, this broad-leaved evergreen produces large clusters of pinkish lavender flowers in late spring. A low-growing, bushy plant, it makes a great addition to foundation plantings and shrub borders that receive full to partial shade. As it reaches just 3 feet tall and wide, bumblebees love the flowers and are often found buzzing around the blooms. With winter hardiness down to -40 degrees F, there’s no pruning necessary to maintain the shrub’s natural shape and size. Another compact rhododendron worth seeking out is the purple-flowered “Ramapo.”
Lavalamp Flare Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata “Kolmavesu”): An adaptable and petite hydrangea that’s hardy to -40 degrees F, Lavalamp Flare produces big, conical flower clusters that are white and age to a brilliant pink. Each upright flower panicle can grow up to 16 inches long. With a mature height of just 2 to 3 feet, that means over half of the plant’s height is flowers. It’s perfect for smaller yards and gardens with limited sun. Another wonderful shade-loving hydrangea with no-fail blooms is the oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).
Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica): This broad-leaved evergreen shrub produces panicles of small, white, bell-shaped flowers in the spring. It’s a great early forage plant for many species of bees. Fully hardy here in Western Pennsylvania, Japanese andromeda prefers slightly acidic soil and some protection from heavy winter winds. The drooping clusters of flowers occur on shrubs that reach about 8 feet tall at maturity, though some dwarf cultivars do exist. There are also some varieties with pink flowers and foliage, too. As an added bonus, Japanese andromeda is typically deer resistant.
Compact Korean Azalea (Azalea yedoenese var. poukhanense “Compacta”): This semi-evergreen, compact azalea seldom requires pruning and produces lavender-pink flowers in the spring. It’s perfect for woodland gardens and shady beds. At full maturity, this slow-growing azalea reaches just 3 feet tall and spreads about 5 feet wide. Its an easy-care flowering shrub for the shade. Unfortunately, the deer do favor it (along with other azaleas), but if you have space for this beauty, I highly recommend it.
Mountain laurel (Kalimia latifolia): If you’re looking for a great North American native flowering shrub to tuck into a shady spot, mountain laurel is a beautiful option. This evergreen shrub has shiny green leaves that are topped with clusters of cup-shaped flowers in the mid-spring. Though some sources tout it as being deer resistant, mountain laurel is a favorite of the deer in my garden, so plant it with caution. Mountain laurel is the state flower of Pennsylvania, and most varieties can reach up to 10 feet in height, though they are fairly slow growers. There are many cultivars of this shrub that come in a wide range of flower colors but all prefer to grow in shady conditions with slightly acidic soil.
Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica): Another Asian flowering shrub that’s perfectly suited to shade gardens, kerria is a deciduous shrub that can really steal the show. In mid-spring, the shrub produces bright yellow blooms all along the length of its stems. Reaching about 8 feet in height with equal spread, it requires some room, but with its lovely, arching growth habit, it makes a wonderful specimen. Kerria even tolerates full shade and still produces blooms. The cultivar “Plentiflora” has double flowers that grace the garden with even more color.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio with Doug Oster. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden,” “Good Bug, Bad Bug,” and her newest title, “Container Gardening Complete.” Her website is jessicawalliser.com. Send your gardening or landscaping questions to [email protected] or The Good Earth, 622 Cabin Hill Drive,
Greensburg, PA 15601.
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