Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Audio Play Icon Headphones Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon

Regional Picks: Shrubs For Shade – Midwest

Fine Gardening - Issue 188

1. ‘Haas’ Halo’ Smooth Hydrangea

Name: Hydrangea arborescens ‘Haas’ Halo’

Zones: 3–9

Size: 4 to 6 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist to dry, well-drained soil

Native range: Eastern United States

While you will certainly get titanic proportions from this heavyweight in full sun, ‘Haas’ Halo’ is as versatile and adaptable as you would expect anything from this species to be. The flower heads, up to 14 inches across, are a midsummer spectacle over the top of handsome, blue-green foliage. In spite of the weight they support, the flower stems resist flopping, remaining rigidly upright through fall and winter. Consider this for a contemporary foundation planting on the shady side of the house.


2. Kodiak® Orange Diervilla

Name: Diervilla × ‘G2X88544’

Zones: 4–7

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; medium to dry, well-drained soil

Native range: Woodland edges of eastern North America

Durable and native, diervillas hadn’t had a heyday in half a century until the Kodiak® series came along. Of the three colors available in a series made for cold climates, Orange is particularly showy. It puts on a season-long display of amber-tinted leaves that burn like glowing embers in fall. Even in dry shade you can expect good color, along with a flicker of delicate yellow flowers in late spring and early summer. Kodiak® Orange thrives in a variety of garden habitats and won’t readily succumb to browsing deer.


3. Softleaf Arrowwood Viburnum

Name: Viburnum molle

Zones: 5–8

Size: 8 to 12 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Partial shade; well-drained soil, particularly limestone soil with high pH values

Native range: Woodlands and savannas of the midwestern and southern United States

What garden doesn’t need at least half a dozen viburnums (Viburnum spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) with their seemingly endless landscape value? This species’ chief ornamental feature is its exfoliating, peeling bark, which gives it an effect not unlike a paperbark maple (Acer griseum, Zones 4–8) but on a more twiggy scale. The leaves take on an alluring pink cast in autumn, appearing to glow from within shaded plantings. Let its branch infrastructure provide an organic trellis to native vines such as American virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana, Zones 3–8) as they wend toward the light.


4. Eastern Wahoo

Name: Euonymus atropurpureus

Zones: 3–7

Size: 12 to 15 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Partial shade; well-drained soil

Native range: Eastern United States along streams and at the edges of thickets

Few native shrubs offer such delightful autumn encounters as eastern wahoo. Its curious fruits—red berries popped from a pink hull—attract human interest for their color and abundance. Birds and mammals favor those fruits for as long as they last into the winter. With an understated personality for most of the growing season, eastern wahoo further redeems itself with pink to red fall color (pictured). Its rambling habit makes for a great screen along boundaries and fencerows.


Kelly D. Norris is director of horticulture and education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden in Des Moines, Iowa.

Photos: millettephotomedia.com (1, 2); Alamy Stock Photos (3); Bill Johnson (4)

View Comments


Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest

Magazine Cover

Take your passion for plants to the next level

Subscribe today and save up to 44%

"As a recently identified gardening nut I have tried all the magazines and this one is head and shoulders above the pack."


View All

We hope you’ve enjoyed your free articles. To keep reading, become a member today.

Get complete site access to decades of expert advice, regional content, and more, plus the print magazine.

Start your FREE trial