Shrubs For Shade: Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Dogwood Right Over!

Owning a home can be one of the most enjoyable things you will ever do, and keeping the outside looking beautiful will help maintain its value. Many people come to visit us looking for landscape ideas for entrances that are shaded. Either by large trees or by the angle at which the home was built, the front entrance to the home finds itself in the shade most of the time. There are many plants that can perform well in the shade. In a series of articles, we'll share with you some strong shrub choices for shadier environments.

A brief reminder on the difference between "shrubs" and "perennials". Shrubs, unlike other perennial plants such as tulips or peonies, produce woody growth. That means they produce growth next season on the growth they produced this year. As opposed to the aforementioned tulip and peony which die down to the ground and come up again in the Spring.

Among the best and most shade tolerant shrub varieties, are a growing selection of Dogwood cultivars. In other climates, there are dogwood trees. While the tree forms of this genus do not do well here, there are a growing number of shrub forms that are highly cold-hardy and are great candidates for environments that are more shaded. The classic Ivory Halo Dogwood offers variegated creamy olive and white foliage on bright red stems. The foliage is attractive in the summer and the bright red stems can add winter interest to the landscape. Ivory Halo, like many of the newer cultivars, is a dwarf or compact shrub. Meant to achieve a height of no taller than five feet Ivory Halo lends itself well to foundation plantings where heights above four or so feet can sometimes obstruct windows.

Also in the dogwood genus, a new cultivar in recent years, the Neon Burst Dogood is becoming a popular choice bright lemony yellow to chartreuse foliage covers this plant during the growing season. Foliage is brighter and more yellow in environments that receive at least six hours of direct light. Neon Burst also has the attractive red stem that makes Dogwood a desirable "four season" shrub. In addition to the stems, the foliage of the Neon Burst takes on a burgundy tone in late fall before the leaves drop.

Lastly in the Dogwood genus, the latest introduction is, Red Rover, Red Rover, send... Dogwood right over! ;).  The Red Rover dogwood is a compact form of Silky dogwood. The Red Rover stays closer to the heights of the Neon Burst and Ivory Halo. Around five feet, the Red Rover also has attractive fall color. It also, with good sun will have white flowers that mature into a fruit that is an attraction to birds.

Something that often goes ignored with shrubs is the need for routine maintenance. Annual pruning of shrubs has its benefits when attempting to keep them looking lush and healthy. Woody plants eventually develop bark and stems become hard. This is expected of trees, but shrubs often can look undesirable with leaves on top and stems down below. As your Dogwood shrubs mature, after three to five years, consider removing 20% of the thickest stems you can find all the way down to the soil level. This will allow light to penetrate and encourage new fresh shoots that have desirable red bark for winter interest.


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