Best Trees For Shade: Common Trees For Shady Areas

Large Purple Flowered Tree
redbud shade
(Image credit: mcfields)

Medium shade areas are those that receive only reflected sunlight. Heavy shade means areas that get no direct sun at all, like areas permanently shaded by dense evergreens. Trees for shady areas do not all have the same shade preferences. Each species of tree has its own range of shade tolerance. Read on to learn more about growing trees in shade and which ones are the most suitable.

Trees That Grow in Shade

Few, if any, trees do better in shade than in sun, but many tolerate shade. When you are growing trees in shade, it is easiest to find trees that accept light shade. It is hardest to find good tree choices for heavy shade areas. If you search for a tree for a light-shade area, you have many to choose from, including evergreens, conifers, and deciduous broad leaf. For example, you might plant:

For medium or moderate shade areas, try the following trees:

If you plan to install a tree in heavy shade, you still have options. The following trees that grow in shade will tolerate heavy shade fairly well:

About Shade Loving Trees

Remember that not all trees that tolerate shade can be said to be shade loving trees. A tree may survive in shade yet lose some of its decorative features. For example, some trees that flower generously in sunshine may produce far fewer flowers in shade. 

And deciduous trees that provide brilliant autumn displays when grown in sun may not change leaf color dramatically when grown in shade. Japanese maple is a good example. Now that you know a little about some of the best trees for shade, you can tuck them away in shady spots of the landscape.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.