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  • Jennifer Anderson

Got Shade?


Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia) might be the shrub for you! It’s beautiful and thrives in full shade, although it can tolerate up to four hours of sunlight.

It gets about 10 feet tall and at least as wide, and its showy, bell-like flowers bloom in the spring.

After the flowers come the papery seed capsules that look a bit like Chinese lanterns. They’re an inch or two and last through early winter.

Here’s the topper: Bladdernut has a “very high” pollinator value, according to the EPA, attracting butterflies and native bees.


Other good options:


Snowberry -- full sun to part shade

2-to 5-foot thicket

Large, snow-white berries

Moist or dry


Buttonbush (Part shade, shade)

6-12 feet

Summer flowers look like pin cushions

Moist soil




Summersweet (full sun, part shade, shade)

Narrow, 6-12-foot shrub

Fragrant summer flowers; outstanding fall color

Moist soil


Ninebark (sun, part shade, shade)

3-10 foot mound-shaped shrub

Late spring flowers, exfoliating bark, yellow fall color

Dry or moist


To round out, and layer, your shade garden, add cardinal flower , Christmas fern (evergreen), foamflower and Indian pink. Wild ginger makes a great ground cover!


Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden. Photos: Shutterstock.


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