Shade Shrubs for the Mountain West

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Finding interesting plants for shade can be a struggle, but when you add in that plant’s desire to be a woody shrub, the list becomes even narrower. But these textural wonders are essential to give depth and real presence to our shade beds and borders.

Whether you’re looking for colorful foliage, spectacular flowers, or an out-of-this-world texture, there’s sure to be at least one shade-loving shrub that fits the bill. To help us find these attractive garden treasures, we asked area experts to pick their four favorite shrubs for shade. Check out some sensational picks for the Mountain West below, and explore shade-loving shrubs in this episode of the Let’s Argo About Plants podcast.


1. Eternal fragrance Daphne

Eternal Fragrance™ daphne
Photo: Michelle Gervais

Name: Daphne × Transatlantica ‘Blafra’

Zones: 5-9

Size: 3 feet long and wide

Conditions: full sun to partial shade; Well-drained soil

Local Range: Hybrid

Eternal fragrance Daphne is a great plant to place near the front door so you can enjoy the wonderful fragrance of its flowers. The white, sometimes pinkish flowers bloom in late spring and continue into fall. The glossy dark green leaves are very beautiful and borne on cinnamon colored branches. Eternal fragrance It is semi-evergreen, depending on the severity of the winter season each year. In our smoky summers, it will do much better with a little extra water. And while it can tolerate full sun in other regions, it needs afternoon shade in the Mountain West. The best part is that deer usually don’t notice this bush.

2. Pride Berry® Coral Berry

Proud Berry® coralberry
Photo: Courtesy of Proven Winners Color Choice

Name: Symphori Corpus ‘Sufi’

Zones: 3–7

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide

Conditions: full sun to partial shade; Well-drained soil

Local Range: A hybrid of North American native species

Prudberry blooms with small pink flowers.® Summer coral berries are almost unnoticeable, but are visited by hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. gave A more impressive display comes later with a profusion of smooth pale pink berries that are produced in abundance on delicate but wiry branches. They look charming in the garden and in flower arrangements. These berries, although mildly toxic to people and pets, are sometimes eaten by wildlife. Pride Berry® Grows slowly but will develop. Once the bush is established, it is naturally drought tolerant. But when summer gets blisteringly hot, extra water is appreciated. Although it can take full sun, it prefers dappled, drier shade.

3. ‘Kaleidoscope’ Abelia

'Kaleidoscope' Abelia.
Photo: millettephotomedia.com

Name: Abelia × Grand Flora ‘Kaleidoscope’

Zones: 5-9

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide

Conditions: full sun to partial shade; Well-drained soil

Local Range: Hybrid

‘Kaleidoscope’ Abelia makes for a beautiful display in mass plantings. This plant has unusual plants. Fresh spring growth sheds a rich red, sporting deep burgundy streaks. It then turns into shades of gold, green and orange. But the show doesn’t stop there. The attractive and fragrant small flowers bloom pink and turn white in summer. If it is not very cold in winter, This shrub can hold its leaves. Otherwise, it will lose them ‘Kaleidoscope’ requires almost no maintenance, But it may need extra water for the first two years.

4. Ocean spray

Ocean spray
Photo: millettephotomedia.com

Name: Holodisk color

Zones: 5-10

Size: 12 to 15 feet tall and 3 to 8 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to full shade; Moist to well-drained soil

Local Range: Western North America

I grew up in northern Idaho, and this native bush was everywhere. Its clusters of fragrant, fluffy, cream-colored flowers, which can grow up to 10 inches long, beckon you in early summer. As they mature, they turn tan and then caramel in color. These flowers are loved by native bees and butterflies. Also known as creambush and ironwood, ocean spray is deciduous and very adaptable to a variety of light and soil conditions. It is a great performer as an understory plant, but is also welcome on sunny mornings. This shrub is drought tolerant once established. By then, it may need some supplemental irrigation.


Mary Ann Newcomer He is a lifelong gardener and author of The Rocky Mountain Gardener’s Handbook and The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Mountain States..

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