6 Shade Plants to Grow in New Jersey

Shade plants can grow in areas without full sun. What should you plant in New Jersey to create and inhabit shaded areas?

Over time, plants have adapted to a variety of environments. Shade tolerance is a plant’s ability to withstand low lighting.

Plants have acquired this feature to help them thrive despite little sun exposure.

Shade-tolerant plants require less energy and utilize soil minerals and sunlight more efficiently than sun-loving plants. They have large leaves to capture as much sunlight as possible for photosynthesis.

Using shade-tolerant plants in your garden allows you to use the space where other plants cannot thrive. Before choosing plants for the shady areas of the landscape, carefully consider how much shade or light they actually need in order to perform their best.

1. Cherry Birch (Betula Lenta)

Sweet birch, or betula lenta, is a deciduous tree that matures into a rounded shape. It can grow to heights of 60 to 70 feet. They grow best on well-drained, moist, acidic, rocky, or sandy soil in partial shade. Too much sunlight exposure can lead to heat stress in the summer.

Because of its dark, glossy bark, the cherry birch is also known as black birch. Its beautiful yellow leaves are a particularly attractive feature.

This tree is currently used primarily for shade, but it is also a source of wood that eventually develops a mahogany-like deep finish.

a tall tree with growing white flowers

2. American Linden (Tilia Americana)

The American linden is a wonderful shade tree. It is most abundant in mountainous areas and valuable as a wood tree.

While it can grow in full sun, it grows best in partial shade and thrives on average, medium-moisture, well-drained soils. It has a straight trunk that is 2 to 3 feet in diameter and can grow to be 70 to 80 feet tall.

It is an excellent wildlife tree that attracts lightning bugs and serves as a host plant for red-spotted purple and mourning cloak butterflies. Its flowers are so enticing to honeybees that you can hear their humming from several feet away.

american linden tree in the park

3. Emerald and Gold Euonymus (Euonymus Fortunei)

The emerald and gold euonymus is one of the most widely planted shade shrubs. This evergreen plant and its different varieties exhibit glossy, leathery leaves all year in USDA Zones 7 through 9.

This low-growing shrub spreads via creeping roots and seed dispersal. It flourishes as a free-spreading plant or as a small climber against a shady wall or fence.

Evergreen euonymus cultivars, particularly golden euonymus, can survive in a variety of settings. They grow in full sun but do well in partial- and full-shade locations. The shrub develops differently depending on how much sunlight it receives.

euonymus fortunei plant in the backyard

4. Carol Mackie Daphne

The Carol Mackie variety stands out among the daphne species due to its brilliant, variegated leaves and fragrant pink flowers. It is an excellent choice for foundation plantings.

Clusters of fragrant white to pink flowers bloom in late spring. Carol Mackie daphnes are frequently planted next to patios and paths leading up to entrances because they are very fragrant during the blooming season.

Rich compost-amended soils with mild shade are ideal for this plant. New plants may take some time to establish themselves.

fragrant pink flowers of carol mackie daphne

6. Mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia)

Mountain laurel is a native of the northeastern United States. It grows naturally in New Jersey’s shaded woodland areas. This shrub does not grow well in clay and should be grown in a moist location.

Gorgeous pink, white, rose, or pink flowers emerge in clusters in late spring, transforming a shaded forest into a gorgeous fairy garden. The dwarf Mountain Laurel is one of the most popular landscaping varieties.

The foliage is a very gorgeous glossy green. It is perfect for landscaping because it is an evergreen and provides visual interest all year.

beautiful pink flowers with pentagon shaped petal

6. Surprise Lily (Lycoris Squamigera)

The surprise lily attracts various butterflies to your shade garden. This versatile shrub’s leaves are 1 foot long and gray in color.

In contrast, the flowers are lilac or pink and grow on stalks that are 2 feet tall. They are 3 inches long and have a strong floral scent.

This plant does not have a preference for soil. While it can withstand direct sunlight, it is an excellent choice for areas with full or moderate shade. 

An additional benefit is that the surprise lily can be propagated by simply dividing and replanting it.

beautiful surprise lily flowers in the garden
Phillis Butler
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