Miscanthus grasses, Virburnum, Astilbe/Hosta, Winterberry/Ilex, are all great examples of flowering shrubs we can plant for you that are shade tolerant and give you color all 4 season of the year.  We have provided some additional information about these wonderful plants below.  Please feel free to request a visit one of our nurseries and we can walk you through all the options.

Winterberry / Ilex – Color after the leaves fall
(Ilex verticillata)

Also known as the Michigan holly and black alder, the winterberry is a deciduous holly shrub with very small white flowers that grow in the leaf axils. The fruit is red and berry-like and grows on short stalks.

Did you know? Extremely showy in late fall and early winter when covered with their bright red fruit, these shrubs are either male or female–a trait typical of the holly family. Birds are readily attracted to them. This shrub grows well in both wet and dry sites.

Red Chokeberry
(Photinia pyrifolia)

Red chokeberry is a spreading shrub with terminal clusters of white or pink-tinged flowers on hairy stalks. The shrub is found in thickets, clearings, low woods and swamps.

Did you know? A native shrub, this species forms sizable colonies and is excellent for naturalistic landscaping. Although chokeberry fruits persist through much of the winter, they appear to be of little importance to wildlife; they are occasionally eaten by game birds and songbirds and reportedly by bears.

Thank you National Wildlife Foundation

Miscanthus – for all 4 seasons

Perfect plants for any bed or border, ornamental grasses offer four-season interest. Miscanthus (sometimes called maiden grass) is among the easiest to grow. We love the types that have silver-variegated foliage — it creates a more delicate appearance in the landscape.

Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide

Grow it with: Purple-leaf ninebark (another four-season plant) for a stunning contrast in shapes, colors, and textures all year long.

Astilbe / Hosta  – beautiful in shade

Beloved for handsome foliage and dense, colorful plumes of flowers, astilbe blooms in shades of pink, red, white, and lavender in early summer. Many selections have bronzy foliage, too. ‘Fanal’, a selection with dark red flowers, is a favorite.

Plant Name: Astilbe selections

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist or wet soil

Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

Grow it with: Shade-loving hostas for a great contrast in texture and color.

Thank you Better Homes and Gardens

Viburnum  —   more color in winter

Viburnum provide food for Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Pileated Woodpecker, robins, Brown Thrasher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Cedar Waxwing, Gray-cheeked, and Hermit Thrush who relish the fruits during fall migration. Viburnums grow in full sunlight but will tolerate partial shade. Collectively, these species cover all the ranges of soil moistures. American Cranberrybush (V. trilobum) and Wild Raisin (V. cassinoides) grow in wet areas (the former preferring moist woods and bogs, while the latter prefers shrub swamps and forested wetlands), making them fine choices for wetland mitigation plantings. Both grow in full to partial shade conditions. Arrowwood (V. dentatum) is also considered a wetland shrub but will grow in upland areas in fine-textured soils with high moisture-holding capacity. Give it room to grow, as many arching stems will emerge. Nannyberry (V. lentago) grows a bit taller, and also has arching stems forming distinct clumps. It prefers a bit drier soil moisture content than arrowwood. The latter two are both relatively shade tolerant, but plant it in full to partial sun for best expression.

Dogwoods are great choices for ecological landscaping. Their fruits attract Wild Turkey, Northern Flicker, bluebirds, cardinals, robins, catbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Red-eyed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Pine Warbler, Purple Finch, and such specialties as Ruffed Grouse, Yellow-breasted Chat, Brown Thrasher, Hermit Thrush, and Gray-cheeked Thrush. Some of the fruits may persist into winter adding even more value as wildlife food. The bright red stems of the multi-stemmed Redosier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) provide colorful interest to the winter landscape. It blooms from June to August in our area producing white flowers and white fruit. Give it room to grow, since the shrub will spread by stolons (as will the Silky Dogwood) producing a low, thick cover for wildlife. Silky Dogwood (C. amomum) blooms from May to July producing blue and white fruit in autumn. Both of these shrubs prefer wetter soils. In soils that are a bit drier but still moist, Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa) may do better. Alternative-leaved Dogwood (C. alterniflora) does best in rich, upland soils. All are moderately shade tolerant.

Thank you Ecological Landscape Alliance

Eastern Red Cedar  – sturdy and resistant
(Juniperus virginiana)

The eastern red cedar is an aromatic evergreen tree. It can grow to heights of 40 – 60 feet. Evergreen leaves are dark green and scale-like. The dark blue berries are soft, juicy and sweet.

Did you know? The most widely distributed eastern conifer, native in 37 states, Eastern Red Cedar is resistant to extreme drought, heat, and cold. The aromatic wood is used for fence posts, cedar chests, cabinetwork and carvings. First observed at Roanoke Island, Virginia, in 1564, it was prized by the colonists for building furniture, rail fences, and log cabins. Cedar oil for medicine and perfumes is obtained from the wood and leaves. The juicy “berries” are consumed by many kinds of wildlife, including the cedar waxwing, named for this tree. Red Cedar can be injurious to apple orchards because it is an alternate host for cedar-apple rust, a fungus disease.

Northern Red Oak  – A popular shade and street tree with good form and dense foliage
(Quercus rubra)

The northern red oak is a large tree with a rounded crown of stout, spreading branches. This tree can grow to heights of 60 – 90 feet.

Did you know? The northernmost eastern oak, it is also the most important lumber species of red oak. Most are used for flooring, furniture, millwork, railroad cross-ties, mine timbers, fence posts, pilings, and pulpwood. A popular shade and street tree with good form and dense foliage, the red oak is one of the most rapid-growing oaks and is hardy in city conditions.

Thank you National Wildlife Foundation