need a shade-loving small tree or shrub

charmedApril 15, 2008

Hi all. I'd like to plant a small tree or shrub (not above 8ft tall or so) to plant in my side yard in front of my kitchen window. The space is about 8 ft wide by 20 feet long and the long dimension is on roughly on a north/south axis. It's shaded on the east by my neighbor's tall evergreens and only gets an hour or so of late afternoon sun before being shaded by my house. The rest of the time the space is quite shady. I'd really like to grow something here so I can hang a feeder and have some birds to look at while I wash the dishes. I live in Baltimore City, and I'm only planting things that are native to the mid-Atlantic. I've browsed around on gardening sites and nursery catalogs, but have so far only found things listed as 'shade tolerant' and I really want something that would thrive here. (I do plan to plant some native shade-loving wildflowers eventually as well.) Any suggestions? Thanks!

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Shade tolerant means that it will grow there but perhaps not perform as well as it could (e.g., BLOOM). If you are wanting a flowering shrub/tree, then you might have a hard time satisfying your desire.

Two shrubs to consider: Viburnum acerifolium and Calycanthus floridus. Both of them can be shaped/pruned to resemble more of a small tree - you would certainly want to buy as large a plant as you can so that it is already good sized; given the shade, you would not expect to see any rapid growth after you plant it, I expect it would grow slowly.

A plant that has been good for me but that is not native to the mid-Atlantic: Illicium floridanum. You'd also have to make sure that it would be hardy for you. It is hardy to zone 7 and is evergreen for me in the Atlanta area.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 10:42AM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

Maybe a native Rhodie or Kalmia would work for you?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 10:53AM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

There are few, perhaps no, shrubs native to the mid-Atlantic that actually grow better in deep shade than in the sun. All shrubs I can think of grow better with more sun, and I can't think of any shrub that won't tolerate full sun when grown in its native range. Some shrubs wouldn't do well in dry, hot, windy locations, but given suitable soil and enough moisture, I think all would grow fastest, bloom best, and in general grow best with full sun. I think that is why you see shrubs described as "shade tolerant" - they tolerate shade but will do better in sun. Shade tolerant is the strongest endorsement a shrub can receive with regard to growing OK in the shade.

Of course there are lots of shrubs that will grow fine in shade. Great Rhododendron commonly grows in very shade places, and will even bloom in the shade. I think that is a good choice. As for the feeder, I'd put post in the ground to hold the feeder, and have the shrub nearby for cover. It will be a few years before a shrub is large and sturdy enough to hold up a feeder, which should be four or five feet off the ground, since there are certainly lots of cats in your neighborhood.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 11:25AM
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dandy_line(3B (Brainerd, Mn))

How about Elderberry? A fabulous shrub for shade and provides copious amonts of berries for the birds in the summer. All kinds of bird feeder can be hanging from the branches too. Some really decorous species out there.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 4:18PM
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Spice Bush might work but I think it can exceed 8 feet. The elderberry suggestion sounds good as well. I suspect that elderberry can handle a hard pruning if necessary.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 5:46PM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

I don't think you could go wrong with either Pagoda Dogwood, Cornus alternifolia or one of the Witch Hazels. The naruve Hamaemelis (?)virginian grows in the woods. If you have sky shine either one would do great. With the dogwood you will have a lot of bird feedingfor a short time.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 9:47PM
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We have several varieties of holly growing in shade. Also azalea, rhododendron and hydrangea will take a fair amount of shade also.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 10:56PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Oakleaf hydrangea?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 3:19PM
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