Large, established trees are an asset to any garden. However, the shade they cast over the yard can make it hard to cultivate plants. If your yard has a shady area you want to plant, here are some shade-tolerant shrubs to consider.
All Green Nursery & Garden Supplies grows shade-tolerant shrubs in our on-site nursery. Visit us and browse our range of shrubs, and receive advice from our qualified horticulturists.
Shrubs differ in leaf density and foliage, which can influence how well they grow in shade or full sun. We've uncovered the best shrubs for those shady parts of your garden.
Native shrubs for shade
Brighten up a shady corner of your garden with the native shrubs outlined below.
This native shrub Plectranthus argentatus or 'silver spurflower' has velvety grey or silver leaves which provide a pleasing contrast for the typical dark green foliage of other shaded plants. It prefers well-drained soil and needs to be kept slightly moist during winter. Purple and white flowers appear in autumn.
Branching Grass Flag
Branching grass flag (Libertia paniculata) flowers beautifully in shady conditions and has an attractive light green foliage. Plants are small, growing to about 50 cm long. Grass-like leaves frame delicate white flowers which appear in spring.
You can grow this plant from seed, in a partly shaded position where the soil remains moist. After flowering, cut the plant back aggressively to encourage new growth.
Redback Native Ginger
With beautiful coloured leaves, redback native ginger (Alpinia caerulea) grows in clumps in full shade. It is native to the rain forests of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. The fragrant white flowers and long-lasting blue fruit often attracts birds and bees.
Its large, shiny leaves are hardy and have striking red undersides. The fruit and roots are edible, with a refreshing lemon-ginger taste. The plant is very resilient to dryness as it stores water in its underground roots. However, it looks best when watered adequately.
This hardy native has long, compact leaves, and small yellow flowers appear in spring. Tanika (Lomandra longifolia) is a very low maintenance plant — it's both frost- and drought-intolerant. Plants grow to around 60 cm high, and operate best in partial shade.
Tanika grows best in well-drained soil, with rainfall providing sufficient water except in very hot or dry periods. Pruning is only required after the flowers post-blooming season, to remove spent flower stems.
Exotic shade shrubs
These shrubs are well-suited to the climate in Melbourne and Victoria.
Originally from South Africa, fire lily (Clivia miniata) grows in the shade and can tolerate drought. It grows around 50 cm high in slightly acidic soils and is resilient to bush fires. You should water this plant well during the warmer months, and allow it to dry off during winter. This promotes blossom growth.
Fire lily flowers are bright orange, red or yellow in spring, though some varieties bloom from in autumn as well.
This fast-growing plant is a hybrid, first developed in South Africa's Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Mona lavender (Plectranthus) is suitable for deep shade and grows to around 75 cm high. These plants are easy to grow from cuttings, and should be housed in fertile, moist soil.
Mona lavender flowers from late summer through autumn, with light purple blooms. It's leaves are green with deep purple undersides.
Sweet box (Sarcococca confusa) originates from Western China and grows in partial shade sheltered from the wind. Plants reach a height of 1.75 m and expand to 1 m wide. This exotic plant is easy to maintain by trimming any irregular growth. It will tolerate poor conditions, but prefers well-drained, moist soil.
Native to China and Japan, winter daphne (Daphne odora) grows well in dappled shade. Suitable for the conditions in Melbourne, this plant has pink and white flowers, and is popular due to it's fragrance.
Winter daphne should be watered and allowed to dry out, using mulch to keep the roots cool. Plant it in an area of the yard that gets morning sun, with shade from the hot afternoon sun.
How to plant shrubs and keep them looking great
When planting shrubs, make sure they will flourish in the area you've selected for them. Test the soil and sunlight, and seek advice from a horticulturist if you aren't sure what to choose.
Ensure that newly planted shrubs aren't too crowded, with plenty of room to grow. Find out how high and wide the shrub should grow and space plants accordingly.
You don't need to fertilise newly planted shrubs, but they may benefit from Searles Semax Conditioner. Some shrubs will need a layer of mulch to give them a boost.
How to keep shrubs in the shade looking great
While many shrubs are self-limiting in size, light pruning can help shrubs retain their shape and encourage new growth.
Watering routines can vary for different shrubs, and too much water can be as damaging as too little. Take note of how often shrubs planted in shady areas require watering and whether the soil needs to be kept moist.