Shade-loving evergreen plants are best for yards heavily shaded by trees or outdoor structures. Rather than pruning back your expansive trees, you can plant evergreens that thrive in the shade and enjoy their green foliage year-round. Shade-loving evergreens can grow in either partial shade or full shade based on their growing requirements. To ensure optimal growth, match the plant's requirements with the conditions of your yard.
Evergreens for Partial Shade
Areas of the yard that receive partial shade get less than 6 hours of sun a day. Plants such as the balsam fir, savin juniper, sargent juniper, white pine and Norway spruce all require at least three hours of direct sunlight a day. Plant these trees in south-facing areas of your yard to get the most out of your landscape's sunlight. Take advantage of early sun by watering your evergreens in the morning, so that any water on the needles will evaporate during the day. Wet foliage can encourage fungal disease, so avoid watering late in the afternoon.
Evergreens for Full Shade
Full shade is characterised as an area of the yard that receives less than three hours of sunlight a day. This can include dappled sunlight that shines through a tree's canopy. Oftentimes, shaded locations can become saturated with water because the water does not evaporate from the ground during the day. If you have clay soil, you must make soil amendments to prevent your evergreens from getting root rot or other fungal diseases from waterlogged soil. A six-inch layer of compost and builder's sand must be tilled into the clay soil of saturated soil to improve the drainage.
Plants that love full shade include the Canada yew, Canada hemlock, Japanese spreading yew and Japanese dwarf yew. Some evergreens are highly sensitive to cold weather. For example, an English yew cannot survive average annual temperatures lower than -10F. Therefore, it should not be planted in zones 1 through 5. To find out what will survive the winters in your region, check out the USDA Cold Hardiness Zone Map (see resources). Monitor your evergreen during the winter for discoloured tips and damage.
Evergreens for Partial Shade or Full Sun
Indian hawthorn, azaleas, rhododendrons, conifers and evergreen euonymus are versatile, because they can grow in either full sun or partial shade. When choosing these types of plants make sure that you purchase the right species of plant that can grow in both growing conditions.
Signs that Your Evergreen Needs More Sun
Despite their preferred growing conditions, sometimes plants need additional sunlight. Foliage discolouration and stunted growth can be signs that your evergreen is experiencing winter damage. To help your small evergreen survive the winter when it is exhibiting signs of distress, plant it in a container and move it into a sunlit area during the day. Be sure to give your plant more water when increasing the amount of sunlight it gets. Press your fingers in the first 3 inches of soil to feel if it has dried out before giving it water. Allow the top soil to dry in between watering. Give it a reduced amount of water when you move it back in the shade.