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Flowering Shrubs for Shade

Rev up your yard’s shady spots with surprisingly colorful shrubs.

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Photo: Photo by Felder Rushing

Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)

Both lacecap and bigleaf hydrangeas bring color to partly shaded locations. Flowers start the show in early summer and continue an eye-catching display until—and beyond—fall frost. Hardiness varies, but new hybrids offer winter hardiness to Zones 4 in bigleaf hydrangeas. Lacecaps are usually hardy in Zones 6 to 9.

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Rhododendron (Rhododendron ‘Handy Man Purple’)

Nothing says spring like a rhododendron in full bloom. You can find varieties with blossoms in nearly any shade, although pastels and reds are most common. This flowery beauty grows best in part to full shade. Avoid clay soil to prevent root rot. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

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Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)

Bottlebrush buckeye opens spikes of white flowers in summer, just as days start to sizzle. While the blossoms attract butterflies and pollinators, the entire plant is deer-resistant. Bottlebrush buckeye forms colonies, spreading by suckers. Remove suckers as they appear to keep the shrub in bounds. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

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Photo: Atlanta Botanical Garden

Sansanqua Camellia (Camellia sasanqua)

Often called the fall-blooming camellia, this shrub puts on its show from late summer into fall and through December, depending on where you live and which variety you’re growing. Plants thrive in light shade. A woodland setting provides perfect light. Look for hybrids that open flowers in pink, red, white and ruby tones. Hardy in Zones 7 to 9.

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