Shade Trees and Easy-Care Perennials

Garden experts offer planting information for 11 shade trees and easy-care perennials.

winterthur viburnum in bloom with flowers

In spring, white flowers bloom on this shrub.

Winterthur Viburnum With Flowers

Viburnum nudum 'Winterthur'

  • Tardily deciduous shrub with dark green leaves that turn purple in fall and flat clusters of white flowers in spring.
  • Plant in wet to moist rich soil.
  • Plant in full sun to partial shade.
  • Height: 5-7 feet.
  • Width: 5-7 feet, suckering.

Winterthur Viburnum With Berries

winterthur viburnum in bloom with berries

Berries will also bloom on the winterthur viburnum.

Viburnum nudum 'Winterthur'

Hardy in USDA zones 5-9:

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to partial shade.
  • Zone 7: Plant in fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; provide supplemental water during dry spells.
  • Zone 8: Plant in fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; provide supplemental water during dry spells.
  • Zone 9: Plant in fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; provide supplemental water during dry spells.

Weeping Katsura Tree

weeping katsura tree has weeping branches

This weeping tree prefers full sun.

Cericidiphyllum japonicum 'Pendula'

  • Deciduous tree with weeping branches, rounded leaves and shaggy brown bark.
  • Plant in moist, but well-drained organic soil.
  • Plant in full sun.
  • Height: 15-25 feet.
  • Width: 10-15 feet.


Hardy in USDA zones 4-9:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full; provide supplemental water during dry spells.
  • Zone 7: Plant in fall; plant in full; provide supplemental water during dry spells.
  • Zone 8: Plant in fall; plant in full; provide supplemental water during dry spells.
  • Zone 9: Plant in fall; plant in full; provide supplemental water during dry spells.

Frida Ballard Aster

Frida Ballard Aster is raspberry daisy like flower

This fall-blooming perennial flowers best when planted in full sun.

Aster novi-belgii 'Frida Ballard' (aka Symphyotrichum novi-belgii)

Gardener's Note: Some plants formerly in the genus Aster have undergone a name change and are now Symphyotrichum.

  • Early fall-blooming perennial with raspberry-red daisy-like flowers with yellow centers.
  • Plant in full sun to light shade; flowering is better in full sun.
  • Plant in moist to average garden soil that is high in organic matter.
  • Height: 2-3 feet.
  • Width: 2-3 feet.


Hardy in zones 4-8:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; water when dry.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; water when dry.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall; water when dry.
  • Zone 7: Plant in fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch in fall; water when dry.
  • Zone 8: Plant in fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch in fall; water when dry.

Inniswood Hosta

inniswood hosta has lavender flowers

Inniswood hostas should be planted in partial to full shade.

Hosta 'Inniswood'

  • Rounded gold corrugated foliage with a wide, deep bluish-green edge and lavender flowers.
  • Plant in moist, but-well drained soil.
  • Plant in partial to full shade.
  • Height: 30 inches.
  • Width: to 48 inches.


Hardy in USDA zones 3-8:

  • Zone 3: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; mulch heavily after first hard frost; pull back mulch in early spring; divide as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.
  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; mulch heavily after first hard frost; pull back mulch in early spring; divide as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; mulch heavily after first hard frost; pull back mulch in early spring; divide as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or fall; mulch after first hard frost; pull back mulch in early spring; divide as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring or fall; mulch after first hard frost; pull back mulch in early spring; divide in fall or as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring or fall; mulch lightly in the fall; pull back mulch in early spring; divide in fall or as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.

Grape Leaf Anemone

grape leaf anemone spreads aggressively by rhizome

Pale purple-pink flowers appear on this perennial in late summer to mid fall.

Anemone tomentosa 'Robustissima'

  • Tall, deciduous perennial noted for its pale purple-pink flowers in late summer to mid fall.
  • Plant in rich, moist but well-drained soil.
  • Plant in full sun to partial shade.
  • May spread aggressively by rhizomes.
  • Height: 3-5 feet.
  • Width: to infinity.


Hardy in USDA zones 4-8:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch heavily after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; pull back mulch in early spring; divide in spring.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch heavily after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; pull back mulch in early spring; divide in spring.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; mulch in fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; pull back mulch in early spring; divide in spring.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; mulch in fall; plant in light to partial shade; pull back mulch in early spring; divide in spring.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; mulch in fall; plant in light to partial shade; pull back mulch in early spring; divide in spring.

Ornamental Purple Millet

ornamental purple millet is an ornamental grass

This annual ornamental grass is considered invasive in certain parts of the country.

Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty'

Gardener's Note: Ornamental Purple Millet is prohibited in Colorado because it is invasive there. The National Park Service in California and Arizona also lists it as invasive.

  • Annual ornamental grass with deep purple foliage and seed heads resembling corn.
  • Plant in rich to average well-drained soil.
  • Plant in full sun.
  • Height: 3-5 feet.
  • Width: 1-2 feet.


Annual in all zones:

  • All Zones: Plant in spring after danger of frost has passed; plant in full sun; water when dry; remove plants after frost.

Margrethe Viking Aster

margrethe viking aster has white daisy like blooms

This aster flowers best in full sun.

Aster novi-belgii 'Margrethe Viking' (aka Symphyotrichum novi-belgii)

  • Fall-blooming perennial with white daisy-like flowers with yellow centers.
  • Plant in full sun to light shade; flowering is better in full sun.
  • Plant in moist to average garden soil that is high in organic matter.
  • Height: 2-3 feet.
  • Width: 2-3 feet.


Hardy in zones 4-8:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; water when dry.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; water when dry.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall; water when dry.
  • Zone 7: Plant in fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch in fall; water when dry.
  • Zone 8: Plant in fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch in fall; water when dry.

Greenspire Littleleaf Linden

Greenspire Littleleaf Linden used as shade tree

This deciduous tree is tolerant of urban conditions but is not very heat tolerant.

Tilia cordata 'Greenspire'

  • Deciduous tree often used as a shade tree as it's tolerant of urban conditions; but not very heat tolerant.
  • Plant in full sun.
  • Plant in average garden soil that is moist but well-drained.
  • Height: 50-60 feet.
  • Width: 25-40 feet.


Hardy in zones 3-7:

  • Zone 3: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; water when dry.
  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; water when dry.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt; water when dry.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; water when dry.
  • Zone 7: Plant in fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; water when dry.

Maiden or Flame Grass

maiden or flame grass turns bright red in fall

Called maiden or flame grass, this plant is a non-native invasive grass from Asia.

Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurescens'

Gardener's Note: Miscanthus sinensis is a non-native invasive grass from Asia. It has escaped cultivation and invaded natural areas throughout the Midwest and South.

  • Upright ornamental grass with reddish-green foliage that turns bright red in the fall.
  • Plant in full sun to light shade.
  • Can be invasive.
  • Tolerant of a wide range of soil.
  • Prune back to ground in late winter to early spring; fertilize in spring.
  • Divide every few years in early spring.
  • Height: 4-6 feet.
  • Width: 3-4 feet.


Hardy in zones 4-9:

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost to prevent winter heaving; remove mulch in spring; avoid exposure to salt; plant may flop over in heavy snow or ice.
  • Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost to prevent winter heaving; remove mulch in spring; avoid exposure to salt; plant may flop over in heavy snow or ice.
  • Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring; plant may flop over in heavy snow or ice.
  • Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring; plant may flop over in heavy snow or ice.
  • Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring.
  • Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall; remove mulch in spring.

Patriot Hosta

Patriot Hosta is a popular white and green plant

Lavender flowers bloom on this hosta.

Hosta x hybrida 'Patriot'

  • Popular white/green variegated Hosta with lavender flowers.
  • Plant in moist, but-well drained soil.
  • Plant in partial to full shade for all zones.
  • Watch for presence of slugs.
  • Hardy in AHS heat zones 9-2

Hardy in USDA zones 3-9:

  • Zone 3: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; mulch heavily after first hard frost; pull back mulch in early spring; divide as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.

  • Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; mulch heavily after first hard frost; pull back mulch in early spring; divide as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.

  • Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; mulch heavily after first hard frost; pull back mulch in early spring; divide as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.

  • Zone 6: Plant in spring or fall; mulch after first hard frost; pull back mulch in early spring; divide as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.

  • Zone 7: Plant in spring or fall; mulch after first hard frost; pull back mulch in early spring; divide in fall or as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.

  • Zone 8: Plant in spring or fall; mulch lightly in the fall; pull back mulch in early spring; divide in fall or as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.

  • Zone 9: Plant in spring or fall; mulch lightly in the fall; pull back mulch in early spring; divide in fall or as new growth appears in early spring; protect from deer in prone areas.

Sunny Gretchen Garden Mum

Sunny Gretchen Garden Mum has orange cushion bloom

Mums like full sun to light shade.

Chrysanthemum morifolium 'Sunny Gretchen' (aka Dendranthema x morifolium)

  • Perennial with early fall-blooming bright yellow cushion-like flowers.
  • Plant in rich to average well-drained soil.
  • Plant in full sun to light shade.
  • Pinch back plants by ½ in late spring; divide in spring every 2-3 years.
  • Height: 24 inches.
  • Width: 24 inches.
  • Zone 5: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after planting; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 6: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after planting; avoid contact with salt.
  • Zone 7: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; provide supplemental water during dry spells.
  • Zone 8: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; provide supplemental water during dry spells.
  • Zone 9: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; provide supplemental water during dry spells.
  • Zone 10: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; provide supplemental water during dry spells.

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