Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 83: Shrubs for Shade

Video by Danielle Sherry & Steve Aitken, Edited by Kara Demos

Finding interesting plants for shade can be a struggle, but when you add in the desire for that plant to be a woody shrub, the list narrows even more. But these structural wonders are essential in giving our shady beds and borders depth and real presence. In this episode we feature shrubs that will tolerant a range of low-light situations. Some flower beautifully in spring or winter, while others save their best show for fall. Regardless, the list is robust, especially because associate editor Carol Collins joins us to highlight an impressive native plant she adores and a peony (yes, that’s right—a woody tree peony counts as a shrub) that everyone will want to save their pennies to purchase.


Expert testimony: Andrew Bunting, Vice President of Public Horticulture at the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society


Danielle’s Shrubs

‘Showy Lantern’ enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Showy Lantern’, Zones 4–7)

'Showy Lantern' enkianthus (Credit: Joann Vieira)
‘Showy Lantern’ enkianthus. Photo: Joann Vieira

Paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha and cvs., Zones 7–10)

Paperbush with leaves
Paperbush with leaves

Paperbush flower
Paperbush flower

Paperbush budded
Paperbush budded

Carol’s Shrubs

American cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum, Zones 2–7)

American cranberrybush in flower
American cranberrybush in flower

American cranberrybush berries
American cranberrybush berries

‘High Noon’ tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa ‘High Noon’, Zones 4–7)

‘High Noon’ tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa 'High Noon', Zones 4-7)
‘High Noon’ tree peony in author’s front garden

‘High Noon’ tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa 'High Noon', Zones 4-7)
‘High Noon’ tree peony close up

Steve’s Shrubs

Azaleas (Rhododendron spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9)


Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii, Zones 4–8)

Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii, Zones 4-8)
Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii, Zones 4–8)


Expert’s Shrubs

Andrew Bunting, expert guest. Photo: Andrew Bunting

Daphniphyllum (Daphniphyllum macropodum, Zones 7–9)

Wheel tree (Trochodendron aralioides, Zones 6–7)

Oregon grape-holly (Mahonia japonica, Zones 6–8)

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin, Zones 4–9)

Blunt-lobed spice bush (Lindera obtusiloba, Zones 6–9)

Asian spicebush (Lindera glauca var. salicifolia, Zones 6–9)


Daphniphyllum (credit: Andrew Bunting)
Daphniphyllum. Photo: Andrew Bunting
Asian spicebush (credit: Andrew Bunting)
Asian spicebush. Photo: Andrew Bunting
Blunt-lobed spice bush (credit: Andrew Bunting)
Blunt-lobed spice bush. Photo: Andrew Bunting
Wheel tree (credit: Andrew Bunting)
Wheel tree. Photo: Andrew Bunting


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