Tall Plants for Shade

Try these tall plants in shady areas of your garden or landscape.

From: DK Books - Containers for Patios
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©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2007, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Japanese Maple

The deciduous Japanese maple has many cultivars, all grown for their spring leaves, attractive summer shape, and fall colors. Protect from cold winds and late frost. The slow-growing, mound-forming var. dissectum has finely divided leaves. Average height: 4 feet;  spread: 6 feet.

Japanese Laurel

Evergreen spotted laurel makes a rounded shrub with shiny leaves and mid-spring reddish purple flowers; females carry red fall berries. Forms include self-fruiting 'Rozannie' and gold-splashed 'Variegata'. Water well and give liquid fertilizer in summer. Average height: 6 feet; spread: 6 feet.

Camellia Japonica

Species and cultivars flower in early spring, in shades of red, pink, and white. A superb evergreen shrub for a large pot filled with ericaceous soil and given protection from cold winds and early morning sun. Prune lightly for shape after flowering. Average height: up to 6 feet; spread: up to 4 feet.

Camellia x williamsii

Camellia x williamsii is an evergreen shrub or tree with thick leathery leaves. The cupped semi double blooms are spectacular. Flowering begins in late February in a continuous series into May in cool, sunny spring conditions.

Evergreen Loquat

Evergreen loquat is a great foliage shrub (or small tree) with striking, leathery leaves reaching up to 12 inches long. After a long, hot summer it produces hawthornlike white flowers, opening in fall from woolly buds. Provide sun and shelter. Average height: 6 feet; spread: 6-10 feet.

Fountain Bamboo

Fountain bamboo makes a tight clump of purple-green stems that arch gently. An open position is best; avoid deep shade. Use a straight-sided pot filled with a mix of soil, peat-based mix, and composted bark. Water well and fertilize in summer. Average height: 10 feet; spread: 3 feet.

x Fatshedera lizei

This plant is a cross between ivy and fatsia and has large, glossy, dark green leaves. It can climb like ivy but does not cling as well and would need to be tied to a support.

Perennial Ginger

One of the tallest perennial ginger lilies, it comes from the Himalayas and makes a real impact. It has long, glossy, pointed leaves and, at the end of summer, packed clusters of tiny orange or yellow flowers with a superb scent. 

Holboellia coriacea

An exceptional, underrated evergreen climber, making strong growth with richly scented spring flowers (the males are mauve, the females greenish white). Provide a sheltered site in light shade or full sun, and wall wires to support the growth.

Calico Bush

The calico bush is a dense shrub with shell-pink flowers opening from crimped buds, from late spring. The best forms include 'Freckles' with pink flowers and a spotted rim, and 'Pink Charm'. Grow in ericaceous soil; trim lightly after flowering for shape. Average height: 5 feet; spread: 5 feet.

Burkwood Osmanthus

A top choice for the scented garden, this evergreen rounded shrub has a liberal covering of tubular white flowers in mid- and late spring. Shiny leathery leaves enliven the show all summer. Water well over summer, giving a monthly liquid fertilizer. Average height: 5 feet; spread: 5 feet.

Taxus Baccata

Good for topiary, evergreen yew can be cut into geometric forms. 'Standishii' is a good cultivar for a pot; at 4 feet high and 24 inches wide, it makes a golden yellow column. Trim for shape in late summer. Berries are produced on female plants. Average height: 8 feet; spread: 4 feet.