Small shrubs that thrive in low sun areas

Asked May 19, 2013, 10:51 AM EDT

I live in Littleton, Ken Caryl Valley, with an altitude of 6200 feet . I have one side of my home facing East, that gets very little sun. I have tried numerous small shrubs to act as screens against the large brick wall of the home. Currently I have Karl Forester ornamental grass, approximately 3 ft. high, planted two weeks ago, that are doing poorly and look like they will soon die. I need a plant that will remain small and compact, as I have a tiered ,landscaping plan, consisting of river rock as a mulch cover. I have tried numerous other shrubs, all dying from lack of sunlight. Getting tired of digging and pulling out expensive plants each year.

Jefferson County Colorado

1 Response

Part of the problem might be soil conditions in addition to low sunlight. Rock over weed fabric over clayey soil can create low-oxygen levels in soil, especially when it is excessively watered.

Here's a few shrubs/grasses to consider, all about 5 feet or less when mature:
Korean Feather Reed Grass - pretty blooms in Aug/Sept but needs a few hours of sun
Annabelle Hydrangea - big white flower clusters
'Compactum' Oregon Grapeholly - broadleaf evergreen may winterburn after dry windy winter
'Manhattan' Euonymus - broadleaf evergreen may winterburn after dry windy winter. May grow to 6 - 8 feet unless trimmed
'Julia Jane' boxwood - broadleaf evergreen that appears to be the best of the boxwoods; seems to tolerate local winters better than other boxwoods
'Kelseyi' Dogwood - some leafspot diease likely if leaves wetted regularly in shady conditions
Japanese barberry - there are MANY named nursery varieties, most under 5 feet tall. Varieties with red/purple leaves may turn green under shadier conditions.
Yew - needled evergreen, several varieties might work for you

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07414.pdf
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07415.html