Shady characters like Ruby Slippers Oakleaf Hydrangea and Little Henry® Itea are assets in gardens and garden spaces that don’t get much sun. For color, texture, size and variety, hardy perennial shrubs for shade can offer the benefits of their full-sun counterparts. For more shrub selections this season, visit Loma Vista Nursery’s online catalog.
Little Henry® Itea Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
Little Henry® Itea
Fluffy white bottle-brush plumes cover Little Henry Itea all summer long. Its light floral scent beckons bees and butterflies. Foliage changes from green to brilliant orange red in fall. Drought tolerant, this compact shrub likes moist soil and tolerates wet conditions, making it a good selection for areas where erosion control is needed.
Little Henry Itea has a mounded habit that requires little pruning or maintenance. Classified as a miniature shrub, mature height and spread is 2 feet; 3 feet when in flower. While it will do fine in part to full sun, sweetspire prefers part to full shade. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9.
‘Ruby Slippers’ Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’)
‘Ruby Slippers’ Oakleaf Hydrangea
This compact shrub has interesting foliage, fragrant flowers and bark as it provides three-season interest in summer, fall and winter. Panicles first bloom white, then turn dusky pink as the season evolves. ‘Ruby Slippers’ Oakleaf Hydrangea blooms on old wood, so a light prune after-bloom is all that’s needed. This hydrangea is shallow rooted, so add mulch to keep roots cool and provide drainage.
‘Ruby Slippers’ Oakleaf Hydrangea attracts pollinators. Use it as a foundation planting, as a specimen shrub and in small spaces. Minimal height and width is 3 feet. This hydrangea doesn’t get larger than 6 feet tall and wide when in flower. Panicles serve as thriller in cut floral arrangements. Oakleaf hydrangea prefers partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9.
Kodiak® Black (Diervilla rivularis), left, and Kodiak® Orange (Diervilla x)
Whether Diervilla black or orange – or both! – these adaptable native shrubs enhance shady Midwest gardens with color from spring through fall. Kodiak Black® has purple-black foliage with bright yellow flowers that bloom in summer and again in fall. Kodiak Orange® also has bright yellow flowers, with orange foliage that glows in autumn sunlight.
Both shrubs have a mounded habit, are drought-tolerant and disease resistant. With long stamen, flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Kodiak Black® and Kodiak Orange® like part to full shade and can be grown in dry shade. Diervilla will also perform well in part to full sun. Mature height and spread is 3 to 4 feet. Use as a border plant, thriller in containers and en mass. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 7.
Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’ (Summersweet)
This popular summersweet cultivar brings all the benefits to a shade garden. Fragrant, bottlebrush white flowers open from the bottom up in mid to late summer, drawing bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Flowers give way to dark brown fruits through winter, offering birds a food source. Densely branched and rounded, this compact shrub spreads slowly, maturing to only 2 to 4 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide.
Summersweet ‘Hummingbird’ has excellent insect and disease resistance. Deer avoid this shrub and it is salt tolerant. While soil should be well drained and kept moist, this cultivar tolerates clay and wet soils. Plant in full shade, as well as in part or full sun, along ponds and streams, in rain and cottage gardens and in perennial beds and borders. Prune in spring as flowers bloom on new wood. Best in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9.
Summer Crush® Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea Macrophylla ‘Bailmacfive’)
Summer Crush® Bigleaf Hydrangea
Spilling out of a patio container near a front door or planted as a specimen shrub in a small yard, Summer Crush® Bigleaf Hydrangea is petite, sweet and oh-so-beautiful. Big, raspberry red or neon purple mophead blooms beg the eye to “look-at-me.” Blossoms appear first in late spring, then again in summer. Dark green foliage turns gold in autumn. Its compact size stays neat and tidy all season, typically reaching only 2 to 3 feet wide at maturity.
Summer Crush® Bigleaf Hydrangea is heat and drought tolerant and wilt resistant. It likes morning sun and afternoon shade. While humans can’t resist its gorgeous petals – neither can bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Give hydrangeas a weekly soak to keep soil moist. Prune in late summer once blooms have faded. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.
Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’)
Noted for its vase-shaped habit, five-petaled white to light pink flowers bloom in spring on this pretty red chokeberry. Abundant, glossy-red fruits form clusters along the branches. Fruits ripen in late summer and persist through winter. Foliage turns bright red in fall. Although berries are edible and sometimes used in jams and jellies, they are tart and bitter, which gives this shrub its unusual name.
Red chokeberry is a deciduous, multi-stemmed plant that makes a good privacy hedge or border shrub when planted en masse. Mature height is between 6 and 7 feet. Spread is 3 to 4 feet. Use it in rain gardens, along ponds and to help anchor perennial beds. This shrub tolerates a variety of environmental conditions, including clay, and is a good selection for controlling erosion. It prefers well-drained soils and average moisture. Plant in part shade to full sun, in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.
Learn About Landscape Plants from Loma Vista Nursery
Loma Vista Nursery’s staff members are experts in the field. We love helping people learn and understand more about healthy plants that perform well in the Midwest. Visit our plant catalog for information about trees, shrubs and perennial plants that are ideal for Midwest landscapes. To get answers to plant-related questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (785) 229-7200.
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