evergreen azaleas for shade

Prettypetals_GA_7-8January 28, 2009

Hi everyone, I am looking for an azalea that will bloom in the shade. The spot I am looking at gets no sun at all and I would love a shrub that doesn't get more than 5 ft. tall and blooms even if only in the spring. They will be used up next to my house for shrubs. My previous shrubs get too tall to use and ended up only being sticks because I had to prune to control size. Or if you know of another plant that does well in full shade I would like to hear about it. Thanks a bunch, Judy

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I have a shady bed that also gets almost zero sun. I have 2 white azaleas in there: GG Gerbing and Girard white. They both flowered last year, but that was shortly after i bought and planted them, so I'm waiting to see what happens this year. From what i've read, i expect their flowering to be reduced. They look very healthy so far. I bought them at Grower's Outlet.

In the same bed, i also have:

Evergreen shrubs:
Camellia japonica White Debutante (flowering well now)
Illicium floridanum Shady Lady (spring flowers)
Sarcococca hookeriana (very tiny flowers now)

Christmas fern and Japanese holly fern (both evergreen)
Solomon's seal
Several hostas
Some tiarellas (love these, they flowered for ages and have been evergreen)
Asarum canadense (wild ginger, also evergreen)

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 10:24AM
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Thanks Mayland! I would love for them to bloom but I really want a shrub that will stay under 5 ft. and won't get all leggy and end up with just sticks after pruning for a couple of years. I love how azaleas have a looser flow to their shape which is why I was wanting them. I have some solomons seal and boo koos of hosta. The bed I want them in is full shade in the back and then about 4 or 5 hours of sun in the front of the bed. I have tried hosta there but they get burned up by mid June. I sooooo was wanting to get some Tiarellas this year. I went to Growers Outlet one time last year but its about an hour and a half away. I will look into those other shrubs. I do have some Camellias and I was considering them too. Its such a bad spot and I would love to put something there that won't get so leggy. Thanks for your help, Judy

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 10:50AM
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Asarum canadense (wild ginger, also evergreen) - this is not the evergreen one. The evergreen one is Hexastylis arifolia. Prior to that it was Asarum arifolia, but they reclassified it to the Hexastylis genus.

Just FYI so you can label your plant properly.

Regarding mayland's recommendation of Sarcococca hookeriana, I don't have this but it gets great reviews.

Another good evergreen fern is Ebony spleenwort, Asplenium platyneuron. Before I knew different, I thought it was a baby Christmas fern.

Here is a link that might be useful: Good picture of ebony spleenwort

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 11:05AM
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Thanks for the hexastylis ID, Esh, I am bad with names!

Sarcococca confusa also gets good reviews and grows a little bigger (i think to 4-5 feet) than S. hookeriana (which only gets to around 2 feet), so that might be better for you. The flowers are really tiny, but the foliage is very nice, glossy and rich-colored. S. confusa is also supposed to be very fragrant.

Illicium also has really good foliage, its dense and not leggy, and the flowers will hopefully be a bit showier.

I got one Tiarella at Pike last year, and then a 3-pack from the Bluestone sale last May.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 11:43AM
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Sarcococca confusa does look very pretty. It says its for deep shade so that should work great. Now, where to purchase. I saw it was also called Sweet Box. Do you know if they sell them at places like Home Depot, Lowes or Pikes? I will keep an eye out for them. Now I will go look and see what Illicium looks like. Thanks, Judy

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 12:43PM
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I got my S. hookeriana at Pike (Toco Hills in Atlanta). I am pretty sure I have seen S. confusa in there, or maybe at Ace, since. Lazy S's has it for mail order if you can't find it locally.

I got Illicium floridanum Shady Lady at Pike last year (early summer i think) and also saw it at HD. Shady Lady has variegated leaves and sounds like it might be a bit more temperamental to grow.

Regular Illicium floridanum has a darker red flower and non-variegated leaves (and is probably more robust), I've seen that a lot at Pike and at HD. It can get taller than 5' though.

Here is a link that might be useful: florida anise

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 1:27PM
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Buck Jones says they carry both S. confusa, and S. H. var. humilis in several sizes. I'd call first to verify availability and store hours.

By the way, another good shade shrub is Pieris japonica. 'Mountain Fire' is a great cultivar but it may get too tall for your situation.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 2:28PM
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Thanks a bunch you two for your help. I plan on going to Buck Jones in a few weeks once all the local nurseries start getting in spring inventory so I can see what they have then. I'm always visiting Pikes, HD and lots of other nurseries so I will check them out to. Thanks a bunch, Judy

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 3:15PM
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Instead of Pieris japonica 'Mountain Fire', which can grow 8+ft. tall and becomes "leggy" (I have 2 or 3), see if you can find 'Variegata'. My 20 year old one is only 3-4ft. tall and wide and lower foliage is on the ground. Blooms look the same.
You might also consider Illicium parviflorum (yellow anise),
which is not as tall as I. floridanum and is multistem.
Leucothoe (Doghobble) is another good native shade plant.
L. fontanesiana 'Rainbow' is a colorful selection.
L. axillaris is a rapid spreader.
Agarista (Leucothoe) populifolia (FL hobblebush) is another choice.
If you can find some of the Azalea Satsuki hybrids, they would work there and don't become as tall as the Kurume, Southern Indica and Kaempferi hybrids. My old ones are about 4ft., max. Many also have interesting variegated Orchid-like blooms, both single & double. They are usually the last to bloom.
James Harris at Lawrenceville is probably the last of the local hybridizers of Satsuki hybrids. I have several of his.
Good hunting!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 4:33PM
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Thanks Rb! I will check all your suggestions out tomorrow. I have replaced my shrub twice in six years and I really want something that will stay under five feet so I don't have to prune away all the leaves and end up with just sticks. Thanks, Judy

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 10:24PM
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If you do like Agarista populifolia (a nice plant), be sure to look for 'Leprechaun' so that it is not too big.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 5:53AM
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In my estimation, nothing could be prettier than that old shade garden standby, _Aucuba japonica_, the "gold-dust plant." It's a gorgeous evergreen shrub that should stay within your five-foot height limit. However, I do think with the passage of many years, _Aucuba_ can exceed five feet. If it gets too tall, just clip a few limbs to use in floral arrangements. As you probably know, _Aucuba_ is easily rooted in water. At my house, I have a clump of five "gold-dust aucubas" at one end of the wrap-around porch. The clump of "gold-dust aucubas" is separated from a solid-green, narrow-leaved aucuba by a couple of tea olives, an August Beauty gardenia, a clump of _Musa basjoo_ (Japanese Fiber Banana), a _Musella lasiocarpa_ (Golden Lotus Banana), a 'Mine-no-Yuki' sasanqua, a 'Seventh Desire'sasanqua, and a creeping 'Fragrant Pathways' gardenia, plus a few root hardy tropicals, e.g., curcuma, _Alpinia japonica_, and Mioga ginger. The solid green, narrow-leaved aucuba came from Woodlanders in Aiken and is a beautiful, shade-loving shrub that should stay within your height limits for many years. Another fine shade plant that I've used in the foundation shrubbery is _Fatsia japonica_. It is marginally hardy in Zone 7B, but my plant has survived several winters so far. It makes a dramatic architectural statement, and with time, can grow to a large size. It produces other-worldy off-white flowers in the late fall. They're similar to the flowers produced on mature English ivy but much, much larger. The flowers will produce bluish-black berries if they survive the winter. However, the fruit-stalks on my plant were done in by the thirteen or fourteen degree Fahrenheit low they were exposed to a couple of weeks ago. _Danae racemosa_, or poet's laurel, would be another refined shade-loving plant that will stay well within bounds. It is extremely slow-growing and hard to find in the nurseries.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 4:01PM
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