Shady locations don't have to be dull or empty. There are a number of shrubs that will grow well in shady areas and provide color or greenery.
Here is a list of some of the shrubs that can be grown in shady spots in Oklahoma landscapes:
Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla): Hardiness Zone 6-9; deciduous; shade to morning sun; six-feet tall and eight-feet wide; broad, round shrub; large ovate leaf, medium green; large blue flowers in high pH soil and pink in low pH soil; moderate grower; amend soil with organic matter before planting; cultivar “Glowing Embers” three-feet tall, “Pia” one- to two-feet tall.
Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia): First Oklahoma Proven shrub selection; hardiness zone 5-9; deciduous; partial shade to full sun; six to 10 feet tall and eight to12 feet wide; broad, round shrub; large ovate leaf, medium green in summer, turning burgundy in the fall; large spikes of white flowers; fast grower; cultivar “Pee Wee” only four-feet tall.
Foster Holly (Ilex x attenuata): Hardiness zone 6-9; evergreen; shade to full sun; 20-25 feet tall and width half the height; conical shape; narrow slightly toothed leaf, glossy dark green year round; red winter berries; fast growing.
Nellie R. Stevens Holly (Ilex x ‘Nellie R. Stevens'): Hardiness zone 6-9; evergreen; shade to full sun; 10-20 feet tall and width two-thrids the height; pyramidal shape; traditional holly leaf, dark green year round; red berries in winter; moderate rate of growth; dense growth habit.
Oregon Grape Holly – (Mahonia aquifolium): Hardiness zone 5-8; evergreen; shade to early morning sun; three to seven feet tall and width one half the height; upright growth habit; ovate, dark green glossy leaves in the summer, red-purple color in the winter; yellow spring flowers; blue-purple fall and winter berries; slow to moderate rate of growth.
Leatherleaf Mahonia – (Mahonia bealei): Hardiness zone 6-9; evergreen; shade to early morning sun; six to10 feet tall and width ¾ the height; upright growth habit; broad, spiny, gray-green leaves in the summer, color lightens in the winter; fragrant, lemon yellow early spring flowers; purple-blue fall berries; slow to moderate rate of growth.
Nandina – (Nandina domestica): Hardiness zone 6-9; evergreen; shade to full sun; three to six feet tall and slightly smaller width; upright growth habit; compound leaf with narrow leaflets, light green leaves in the summer, turn bright red in the winter, red color is brighter with more sun exposure; bright red fruit in late summer and fall; wide range of cultivars with different heights.
Azalea (Rhododendron species): Hardiness zone 5-8, depending on cultivar; evergreen and deciduous; two to 12 feet tall and width about one and a half the height; rounded shrub; dark green leaves; fabulous intensity and variety of flower color that covers the entire plant; moderate growth rate; will not tolerate dry, windy sites, needs good moisture, acid soil and good drainage.
Burkwood Viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii): Hardiness zone 5-8; deciduous; shade to early morning sun; eight to 10 feet tall and similar width; upright, rounded, open shrub; oblong, dark green leaves turn wine-red some falls; pink buds open to reveal white flowers in April; slow-moderate growth rate; amend soil with organic matter before planting; “Mohawk” highly rated cultivar.
Koreanspice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii): Hardiness zone 5-8; deciduous; shade to early morning sun; four to five feet tall and four to eight feet wide; rounded, dense shrub; medium-sized, rounded, dull, dark green leaves sporadically turn reddish in the fall; pink to red buds open to reveal white, very fragrant blossoms in and May; slow growth rate. “Aurora,” “Carlotta” and “Cayuga” are newer cultivars.
European Cranberry Viburnum (Viburnum opulus): Hardiness zone 3-8; deciduous; shade to part sun; eight to12 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide; upright, spreading, multi-stem habit; medium-sized, lobed, dark green leaves sporadically turn yellow-red to reddish purple in the fall; reveal white, highly fragrant blossoms in May; fast grower.
Ray Ridlen is an educator for the Oklahoma County Extension Service. His column addresses frequently asked horticulture questions. For more information, call 713-1125.