Last updated on February 2nd, 2024
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There are many a plant that thrives in sunlight, and even those plants that require only partial sun exposure but still need an average of 6 hours of sunlight. This makes it a bit difficult to fill the darker corners of your garden effectively. You might have heavily shaded regions, an area of the garden that stands in shadow most of the day because of a structure nearby or tree.
Conversely, you might have an area that stands in shade because of nearby plants or a fence. Regardless there are still evergreen shrubs that you can plant to add a little light in shadier places, to stand out against the shaded region with a collection of rich greens and yellows for leaves and a rainbow of floriferous options.
If you have a shaded garden and are looking for an evergreen shrub to fill the space, consider these top 10 options:
1. Aucuba japonica Crotonifolia – Spotted Laurel
This stunning evergreen shrub offers a litany of colours. First and foremost the leaves take on the shading of a canvas splattered with paint. The leathery leaves bring yellow and green speckled shading all year round, from spring through winter. These leaves are offset by the small purple flowers that appear come spring and if you have a female plant these flowers will produce large red fruits in summer and autumn.
The evergreen shrub is bushy and medium in size, and when it reaches full maturity, which can take between 10 and 20 years, it can span between 1.5 and 2.5m in height and spread. It thrives most effectively in full shade or partial shade and does well in loam, chalky or sandy soil, making it ideal for any shaded garden. Moreover, it can tolerate acidic, alkaline and neutral soils which means you don’t need to make any alterations to the soil you already have if you choose to plant this in your garden. Perfect for container plants, slopes or small screens, it’s very drought resistant once it establishes itself and beyond that requires very little maintenance.
2. Elaeagnus × ebbingei Gilt Edge
This delightful evergreen shrub has variegated foliage that is quite dramatic in its appearance, rich green in the centre with yellow edges that are so vibrant it almost looks like someone coloured the edges of each leaf with a highlighter. Flowers appear between September and November followed by fruits in December and January, making it a very unique plant and something delightful to have during the winter months when other plants might be dormant. It is also a great choice for planting in seaside locations too.
The inconspicuous silvery flowers are very fragrant, so you can sit back and enjoy the dramatic foliage fully, as well as the heavy scent that has earned it the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. It prefers dappled shade or partial shade and once it’s fully established it will function perfectly well as a hedge, a screen or something eye-catching to climb up against a wall. At its full maturity, it will reach a spread and height of 3 metres, but it can be pruned to a more manageable size should you wish to.
3. Fatsia japonica
The Fatsia japonica is a tropical plant and when grown outdoors this shade-loving variety will make a bold statement in your garden. This broadleaf evergreen shrub has large lobed leaves that can reach up to one-third of a metre in width and span outwards and upwards like a hand reaching into the sky. The leaves are so large that their weight generally causes the plant to lean to one side. In fact, once fully established, the plant can reach upwards of three metres and some older established plants can even reach up to five metres in height. Too much sunlight will cause the leaves to turn brown and this is partly why this plant is ideally suited for shaded regions.
It will bloom with small flowers that are bright white followed by shiny black berries. Birds are typically attracted to the berries and will frequent your garden for as long as the berries are in season. The bloom time is contingent upon your specific climate. Although it gets very large it can be pruned, which we have previously talked about here.
4. Camellia ‘Ruby Wedding’
The Camellia Ruby Wedding gets its name from the delightful ruby-red flowers that appear come spring. The vibrancy of these red flowers contrasts the rich green foliage that appears all year round.
These evergreen shrubs have glossy, leathery leaves with flowers that sometimes grow in clusters. The shrub is rather dense and can grow up to 1.8 metres tall. This plant prefers partial shade or full shade and in fact, is better suited for sheltered areas that get protection against heavy wind and the sun. It will do quite well in acidic soil or neutral soil. It also tolerates loam, sandy and clay soil so you won’t need to make any alterations to the soil unless you have highly alkaline soil. Other than that, it requires a moist but well-drained location in which to grow and once it’s fully established it requires very little care and is only subject to aphids or leaf blight in some areas with bad air circulation.
Have you considered other shade loving plants that are not evergreen? Check my guide on the best plants for shade in pots here with some nice options to consider
5. Osmanthus × burkwoodii
This evergreen shrub creates leathery leaves that are offset by fragrant, tubular flowers that are often white, however, these can also be yellow or orange depending on the variety. After the flowers come blue-black fruit that is very effective at attracting animals to your garden. A very dense, slow-growing evergreen it will manifest in a rounded shape, spanning an average of 3m in height and width when fully established.
You can enjoy green foliage all year round with the white flowers being produced in spring, these are highly scented and the limited black fruit follows in the autumn. This particular plant does very well in well-drained soil and will survive happily in partial shade. It also tolerates chalky, loamy, sandy and clay soil so no amendments need to be made pre-planting. Likewise, it’s very tolerant of acidic, alkaline and neutral soil so you don’t need to change the pH levels either. A very low-maintenance plant that, once it is established, will work effectively as a screen or a hedge and is otherwise pest and disease-free.
6. Lonicera nitida – Boxleaf Honeysuckle
A rather versatile shrub, also known as the Boxleaf Honeysuckle, it is a very adaptable shrub for shaded areas in your garden because it will offer a bit of yellow sunshine, brightening up an otherwise dark area. Once established it will develop in the form of a mound, with arching branches that shoot off of the mound, each of which is covered by tiny variegated leaves. In shade, the leaves will take on a chartreuse shade.
Very adaptable, it’s perfect for hedges and can be properly pruned to fit your garden. Alternatively, you can cut them into a topiary shape or use them as a very tall form of groundcover, something that is particularly effective for adding colour to winter gardens. At its full maturity, it can reach a height of 1.5 metres and a spread of 1.5 metres.
7. Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’
This bushy evergreen shrub offers dark green leaves and a variety of colours all season long. The dark green leaves, for example, appear all year round and then in spring and subsequently, in summer you get flowers that take on pink or white shades and are very rich in fragrance.
After the flowers, there are red, blue, or black coloured berries that appear. These are very low-maintenance plants that you can use as hedging or screens. They do well in full shade or partial shade and when they reach maturity it’s an average of 2m in height and spread. It is very effective for regions that might have soils that are otherwise intolerable to most plants, for example, highly acidic or alkaline soil, clay, chalky, sandy or loamy soil. The plant will grow happily in all of these conditions as long as the soil is well-drained.
8. Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’
The Euonymus Emerald Gaiety is particularly popular as a foundation plant as well as a groundcover shrub because of how prolifically it grows. The leaves are a rich green and edged in white which stands out. At full maturity, the bush will reach an average of 1m in height and a slightly larger spread. The branches will grow in an upright fashion and you can train them with support to go up and over walls if you want.
The plant is a moderate grower so you won’t need to worry about it overtaking your garden quickly. It grows well in partial shade and takes on a slightly darker green pattern with cream edging in the shade. Is very effective as an ornamental hedge plant or as a groundcover and the only thing you really need to be careful of is reversion, where the shrub tries to revert back it a plain green colour and push out new branches, which you just need to prune.
9. Hypericum ‘Hidcote’ – St John’s Wort
One of the most popular plants for attracting wildlife is commonly referred to as St John’s Wort. It produces a collection of golden yellow flowers that can reach 5cm in diameter, spanning from the summer into the autumn. When planted it will become dense and this makes it great for a shrub border.
It does well in dappled shade or partial shade as long as the soil is well-drained. It will thrive in a sheltered area that doesn’t get exposed to cold weather or the wind. Once fully established it will span to 1.5m in height and spread, and this is one of the few evergreens that you can prune back every year in order to maintain the size and shape that you want. Like many of the evergreens shrubs on this list, it’s incredibly tolerant of all types of soil and pH levels. It is also very good for attracting bees thanks to its nectar and pollen-rich flowers. The plant brings with it green foliage from May through September with the bright yellow flowers being produced from June until September. You can take cuttings in August or September, and prune it between September and November.
10. Azalea japonica
A beautiful and small shrub you can enjoy its beautiful flowers that take on vibrant shades of purple, red, pink or white. This shrub will reach a height between 1.5 and 2m tall. The foliage remains evergreen while the flowers spring up in April and May.
This plant prefers partial shade and will do well in acidic soil in particular. It’s actually important that you don’t overexpose it to sunlight because this can interfere with the floral production. Once it is established it won’t require a great deal of watering during the autumn, however, it might need watering more frequently in the spring or summer depending on the temperatures.
Once it is established itself (a few years in) you won’t need to worry about extra watering except during heat waves. Rainwater is very effective at helping cultivate the plants. It is also not necessary to prune this particular plant unless you want to change the shape or reduce the size, but in general, no pruning is required.
Last update on 2024-02-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API