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RE: Shrubs or Small Trees for Narrow Shade Garden (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: hottohort on 02.10.2011 at 09:26 pm in Gardening in Shade Forum

Here is what has worked for me in my ten years gardening a small and very shady backyard in Brooklyn. Some of these would work for both of you, but some only for NYC.

These will take a colder climate:
Rhodotypos - Jetbead. Doesn't flower very much in deep shade but has slightly pleated leaves in a nice shade of green and has a drooping shape. You could keep it easily on the smaller side.
Kerria japonica - I like the single blossom type and even when it doesn't bloom much the green stems and leaves are lovely.
Meserve holly Blue Prince and Blue Princess. This has stayed at about 3 feet without much pruning.
Clethra - stays naturally at around 3-4 feet high and wide and there are some smaller varieties.
Calycanthus floridus - this sprouts new stems from the ground and the width can be kept in check by cutting back. Mine is now about six feet high.
Itea virginica - this did okay for me for awhile but died. I think it would work for others.
Hydrangea "Blue Billow". This is a bit tender but others in 5B seem to make it work. You can search this site for comments. DBGardener do you have consistent snow cover? If you do, you can probably make this work. This hydrangea has bloomed consistently for me since it got established. It can get big, but you can always cut it back.

THese are more tender, but have done really well in Brooklyn:
Aucuba - They are a little leggier in the shade, but I think they look better that way.
Sarcococca - not very tall and the flowers are insignificant but they smell fabulous.
Edgeworthia - if you can find it. Very early spring flowers that look like upside down umbrellas and big tropical looking leaves. The scent is amazing and quite strong.
Here are some things that are "shrub-like" and could add some height. They are a bit out of the ordinary, so you'd probably have to mail-order.
Saruma henryi - looks like a fuzzy ginger on steroids. It can get to 2.5 ft high and gets little pale yellow flowers. It self-seeds too. Does great for me no matter where I put it.
Deinanthe caerulea - a hydrangea cousin with wide felty leaves and pale white or lilac flowers. It seems to thrive in shade. Mine was really unhappy when I took some trees down.
Kirengeshoma koreana - big maple shaped leaves. Can reach 3 feet. Does fine almost anywhere.
Hardy begonia - I have a pink flowered variety that gets to be 2-3 feet tall each year and has large spear-shaped leaves. It also readily self-seeds, which I find to be a plus. I had so much shade I was excited when weeds sprouted up.

One thing I've found about growing shrubs in the shade is that you should get the biggest you can find or handle. If you plant little ones, they will have a much harder time getting going than if they were planted in the sun. If I ordered a small one by mail, it seemed to help if I put it in a big container with some good potting soil for the first year so it could get somes roots going.
Hope this helps.

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clipped on: 03.22.2012 at 02:15 pm    last updated on: 03.22.2012 at 02:15 pm