Shadow Loving Flowering Shrubs

Blog Category: Landscape Design & Installation
August 7, 2017 by Kim Rieber, Account Manager/Design Team Leader

Do you love the look of flowers in a landscape but have a lot of shady spots? You can still get beautiful blooms by selecting flowering shrubs that do well in partially shaded conditions. Three of my favorites are noted below.



Known as the “royalty of the garden,” the azalea is a great selection for those looking for a pop of color in their landscape. Azalea shrubs come in a vast array of hues, as well as shape and size. There are tall varieties, low-growing ground covers and some of a weeping nature. For areas of partial shade, however, you need to select an evergreen azalea. Often mistaken for the rhododendron, the azalea does belong to the genus rhododendron, but they do have different characteristics. Rhododendrons have larger leaves and bell shaped flowers containing at least 10 stamens. Azaleas, on the contrary, have funnel shaped flowers with only five stamens.


Azalea shrubs look best when planted alone, but can look nice planted in masses. They don’t do well with too much sun as it can burn the leaves, but not enough sun can produce lankly plants with little to no blooms. Thus, partial shade is a great spot for an azalea. Once the blooming period has expired, it is best to prune the plant. You will need to prune before the blossoms for the next growing season are set, which typically happens in July.



Bottlebrush Buckeye

The bottlebrush buckeye is one of the top picks for summer flowers in shady areas. Named after the bottlebrush shape the flowers resemble, this buckeye is great through the seasons. During the summer, it puts on a beautiful display of large conical shaped flowers, and in the fall, the leaves turn a very nice yellow. Once the summer blooms fade, glossy, inedible nuts, or buckeyes appear in its place, giving a nod to the origination of the second part of this plant’s name. Bottlebrush buckeye shrubs can grow twice as wide as they can tall, so they do best when grown in large scale plantings.


Bottlebrush buckeyes need well-drained soil in partial to full shade. Sensitive to drought conditions, you must water the buckeye if it gets too dry. This shrub flowers on old wood, so you will want to wait until it is done flowering to prune.



Smooth Hydrangea

Wild hydrangeas with heavy, rounded flowerheads are known as smooth hydrangeas. Many might know the ‘Annabelle’ cultivar. The smooth hydrangea has sturdy stalks with blooms that start out slightly green, open to creamy white or pink during maturity, and then go brown as they wilt. The flowerheads, although round in shape, are slightly flattened.


Smooth hydrangeas bloom on their current season wood. Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring. You can prune down to a 6 inch height. Read more on specific pruning procedures here. During extremely hot or dry weather conditions, it is important to remember to water your smooth hydrangea.


If flowering shrubs are not what you are after for your shaded area, check out these shade loving trees or these evergreens that are fans of a little less light. Feel free to reach out to our experts with your shade and landscaping questions, or you can always request a quote online too.