By: Teo Spengler
If you want a year-round ornamental tree in a shady corner of your garden, a conifer could be your answer. You’ll find more than a few shade loving conifers, and even more shade tolerant conifers to select between. Before you plant conifers in the shade, you’ll want to get a short list of trees that might work. Read on for a description of a few you should consider.
Conifers are evergreen trees that have needle-like leaves and bear seeds in cones. Like other types of trees, conifers don’t all have the same cultural requirements. Some grow best if planted in sun, but you can also find conifers for shade.
Conifers have a reputation of requiring a sunny location to thrive. This may stem from a few, prominent sun-loving members of the conifer family like pine trees. But if you look around a little, you’ll find confers for shade.
Shade comes in many different intensities, from filtered sun to full shade sites. For dense shade areas, you’ll definitely want to consider yews (Taxus spp.) as shade loving conifers. You can find lots of variety in yew heights and growth habits, but most have very dark green needles. Female yews grow red, fleshy aril fruits. Select a species that fits your needs, from groundcover to full-size tree. Be sure you provide excellent drainage and protect yews from deer.
The second tree on our list of shade loving conifers is called plum yew (Cephalotaxus spp.), and despite its common name, it’s a completely different plant. Plum yew’s foliage is rougher and coarser, and a softer green than the yew. These conifers for shade are not as picky about soil as the yew.
Not every type of shade tolerant conifers can thrive in full shade. Here are some options for shade tolerant conifers that can grow in light shade or filtered sun.
Canada hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) words as a conifer for shade as long as the shade is fairly light. You can find weeping varieties or opt for the graceful pyramid shaped trees.
American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) and western red cedar (Thuja plicata) are both Native American trees that can thrive in sun or in high shade.
If you want conifers for shade with mounded shapes and a loose growth habit, consider variegated elkhorn cedar (Thujopsis dolabrata ‘Nana Variegata’). It grows slightly taller than an average gardener and offers cheerful green and white foliage. This conifer also needs good drainage and deer protection.
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Sunlight, water and good, fertile soils are the basic requirements of plants that guarantee their successful cultivation. But not all flowers and trees like bright sunlight, depending on this they are divided into three groups.
Yellow and gold conifers are absolutely essential for a stunning landscape. The bright colors glow all year!
Golden conifers add a burst of bright color in the landscape. Many varieties offer gold color in the winter when the garden is mostly drab. Yellow colored conifers are also useful to plant in shady areas of the garden because their light-colored foliage prefers indirect sun. The varieties on this page show yellow or gold color either seasonally or year-round. On each product page, a full description as well as growth information is provided. Find the perfect golden conifer for your garden by using the search filters on the left to meet your needs.
"Gold" is a blanket term for this type of conifer, but that name includes everything from bright lemon yellow to a rich orange. This color palette is often hard to achieve in the garden unless it is autumn, but using gold conifers allows you to bring bright hues to the landscape any time of year.
We have a wide variety of gold conifers that display their color at different times. Some are an inconspicuous green all summer, only revealing their brilliant gold in winter (such as Pinus contorta var. latifolia 'Chief Joseph'), while others are vibrant yellow when they flush out with new growth in spring (like Pinus contorta var. latifolia 'Taylor's Sunburst'). Still others are gold all year, like Franky Boy Arborvitae. Bring life to your landscape even when winter is bleak.
GOOD FOR SHADE
It is often tricky to grow conifers in the shade, as many of them only thrive in full sun. However, the gold group is a perfect choice for shady spots in the garden since their light-colored growth can burn in full sun. This is especially true for conifers that are gold in summer. Winter gold types can handle a bit more light.
If you are looking for a unique conifer, one of our gold selections is sure to stop your garden visitors in their tracks and elicit an amazed "What is that?" Just plant and wait for jaws to drop!
Variegated conifers have a mix of normally colored foliage and patches of different color, typically yellow-gold or silvery white.
Variegated conifers develop foliage with a stunning combination of colors. Many varieties offer an ordinary green-colored backdrop with splashes of gold or yellow distributed throughout. Variegated conifers provide an unexpected burst of color. The varieties on this page show multicolored foliage year-round. On each product page, a full description as well as growth information is provided. Find the perfect variegated conifer for your garden by using the search filters on the left to meet your needs.
"Variegated" is a blanket term for any plant with foliage of varying colors. Because it can be a mixing of multiple colors, these special plants provide two or more colors on one plant!
WHAT MAKES VARIEGATION SPECIAL
Some varieties of conifers have coloration distinct from the species, but with variegated plants, it is often a surprise if a particular bud will develop green or colored foliage! Conifers often take on a different hue in winter, but variegated conifers' coloration might go from bright yellow to deep orange in winter, making these colorful conifers even more outstanding. Silver Seedling Oriental Spruce (Picea orientalis 'Silver Seedling') is one of our favorite variegated varieties we often have available. Silver Seedling not only sports the typical dark green needles of the species, but it also has an ample mixture of silver-white needle color!
GOOD FOR SHADE
It is often tricky to grow conifers in the shade, as many of them only thrive in full sun. However, these lighter-colored conifers are a perfect choice for shadier spots in the garden since their light-colored growth can burn in full sun.
If you are looking for a unique conifer, one of our variegated selections is sure to make your garden anything but ordinary!