Government of New Brunswick

Agdex No. 275.36

Most gardens have areas of shade that require trees and shrubs that have lower light requirements. The intensity of shade varies and it is important that plant requirements match the shade period. Deep shade exists on the north side of the house or under a dense canopy of trees. Medium shade exists where buildings or trees interrupt sunlight for part of the day. Light shade occurs where light is filtered through the leaves of trees.

In shade plantings there is not usually an abundance of strong color. Trees and shrubs can be chosen for their interesting texture, flower color, and many have fruit that provides color later in the season. Although a shade garden may have limitations it still can be a beautiful part of a landscape.


  • Cornus racemosa (Grey Dogwood) zone 4 (1.5-3m) This easily grown shrub has white flowers, followed by white berries on red stalks and purple fall foliage.

  • Corylus spp. (Hazels) zone 5-9 (3-12m) These shrubs can have various forms from twisted corkscrews to regular pyramidal growth and they produce nuts in the fall.

  • Hamamelis virginiana (Common Witch-hazel) zone 4 (5m). This fall blooming shrub produces yellow flowers about the time other trees are losing their leaves.

  • Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' (Snowhill Hydrangea) zone 2b-9 (1.3m) grows well in deep shade, and bears large trusses of white flowers in August and September.

  • Kalmia latifolia (Mountain-Laurel) zone 4 (10m) is an evergreen shrub with pink, white or red flowers in mid-June.

  • Lonicera tatarica (Honeysuckle) zone 3-9 (2-3m). The colour of the flowers and fruit vary with the variety of this attractive, vigourous shrub.

  • Myrica pensylvanica (Bayberry) zone 2 (3m) is a semi evergreen shrub that produces aromatic gray berries.

  • Ribes alpinum (Alpine Currant) zone 2b-9 (1.5m) grows well in deep shade and can be used as a specimen shrub or as a hedge plant.

  • Rhododendron spp. (Rhododendrons and Azaleas) zone 6-9 (1-2m) are evergreen shrubs with a wide variety of sizes and bloom colors that prefer light shade. Use hardy varieties recommended for the Maritimes.

  • Taxus cuspidata (Japanese Yew) zone 4 (1-3m). These plants have attractive glossy green evergreen foliage and are useful as specimens or in hedges in either spreading or upright forms.

  • Viburnum spp. zone 3 (2-4m) Several viburnums are well adapted to shaded locations. All have colourful fruit that add fall colour.



  • Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple) zone 2b-9 (18-25m) are slow growing, large trees with brilliant fall foliage.

  • Amelanchier spp. (Shadbush or Serviceberry) zone 3-9 (2-7m). These shrubs have white flowers in spring and brilliant fall foliage.

  • Ligustrum vulgare (Common Privet) zone 5-9 (2-3m) This vigorous, rapidly growing shrub bears white flowers and black berries.

  • Ostrya virginiana (Ironwood) zone 3-9 (10m) grows well in deep shade and produce pale green to reddish bladderlike fruit.

  • Thuja occidentalis (Cedar, Arborvitae) zone 2 (1-6m) are evergreens with various forms from globe to pyramidal that prefer moist soils.

  • Tsuga spp. (Hemlock) zone 4-5 (1.5-20m) are graceful evergreen trees with drooping habit and soft textured foliage, and are easily sheared for hedges or a specimen plant.