Container Shrubs for Shade

Written by danielle hill
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Container Shrubs for Shade
Container gardening lends itself to a number of shade-loving shrubs. (lovely potted plants image by Ritu Jethani from

If your covered deck or patio is looking bare, you might want to add a few containers and fill them with shade-loving shrubs. Whether you prefer an evergreen, a fanciful topiary or a blossom-studded shrub, there are many options that grow well with limited space and minimal sunlight. Many of the most common houseplants fit the bill, as well as several types of shrubs ideal for outdoor gardening.

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Dwarf Golden Yew

Thanks to its diminutive size, the dwarf golden yew (Taxus cuspidata), also known as the dwarf bright gold, suits container gardens perfectly. It grows best in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 7. The shrub grows rather slowly, reaching 4 to 6 feet tall and up to 5 to 7 feet wide at full maturity. Should your space have partial shade, the yew can tolerate both sun and shade. For best results, make sure that its soil is fairly sandy and very well-drained. The shrub is fairly easy to care for, tolerant of urban environments, extreme cold and all soil types. Typically, the dwarf golden yew has a dense network of branches and a compact form. Its fruit is small and red.

Green Mountain Boxwood

The green mountain boxwood (Buxus supervirens 'Green Mountain') grows well in partial shade in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 8. The shrub typically reaches heights between 3 and 6 feet, its branches extending up to 3 feet, across. It grows in clumps or mounds and has thick growth, making it useful for a border. The boxwood can also be used as hedging or even trimmed into topiary, and is well-suited to container growing. The green mountain boxwood is very cold tolerant, deer tolerant and fairly drought tolerant, making it a relatively easy plant to grow. However, it can be sensitive to diseases and pests such as canker, mildew, dieback, caterpillars and mites.

Tree Peonies

Despite their name, tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa) are actually shrubs, not trees. Unlike regular peonies, they have woody stems and branches and may reach heights of up to 10 feet. Like their namesakes, however, tree peonies produce large, fragrant blooms. Plant them in partial or dappled shade, receiving between 3 and 4 hours of sun, daily. If exposed to too much sun, the delicate flowers will burn. Tree peonies can grow in most parts of the U.S., adaptable to USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9. For best results, provide the tree peonies' soil with plenty of organic material, such as compost or seaweed soil additives, and ensure that the soil drains thoroughly.

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