Ornamental Trees, Shrubs or Flower in a Wooded Setting

If you live in or near a forest or woods, you have a large range of shade loving perennial flowers, shrubs and trees from which to choose to complement or contrast against the wooded backdrop. Following are plant options that can thrive part or full shade in a wooded setting.


Rhododendron and azalea
 Azalea and rhododendron and be pruned to retain a short stature of 5 feet or less, or the shrubs can be allowed to grow free, expanding to fill voids in the landscape. Rhododendron grows narrower and taller than azalea. Each produces pastel colored blooms in the spring.

Blackhaw viburnum, maturing to about 15 feet in height and 10 feet wide, can be trained to be a small tree. In late spring, blackhaw viburnum produces large, creamy-white blooms. Birds are attracted to a profusion of berries appearing late summer into early winter.


Hydrangea produces large blue, white or pink blooms suitable for floral arrangements or drying. The shrub is dense and can reach a height and width of 5 feet.

Spicebush is a deciduous shrub that can reach a height and width of 10 feet, making it a good choice for a hedge. The springtime yellow blooms of spicebush attract butterflies. Spicebush enjoys its position as an understory tree in or near a forest or woods.

Flowering dogwood can grow 20 to 30 feet tall and wide. The almost wispy appearance of a flowering dogwood allows the beauty of the background to show through. Flowering dogwood is a deciduous tree that produces blooms in the spring followed by berries enjoyed by birds and squirrels.

Serviceberry, a small deciduous tree, produces white blooms in early spring that standout against the darker forest behind them. Reaching 15 to 25 feet tall and about 10 feet wide, serviceberry can be planted in groups for the greatest impact.

Foamflower produces bottle brush shaped white blooms peaking out over dense green foliage that grows about 1 foot tall, even in dense shade. Image courtesy of Raul654, Wikipedia Commons.

Indian pinks
 Indian pinks (sometimes called pinkroot) grow to about 2 feet tall. The blooms of India pinks have a red, tubular base crowned with creamy white or pink star-shaped flowers. Image courtesy of Phyzome, Wikipedia Commons.

Donkey-tail spurge is an evergreen plant that grows 1 to 2 feet tall and produces yellow blooms in the spring.

Virginia bluebells
Virginia bluebells grows 1 to 2 feet tall, have large leaves and produce blue, bell or trumpet-shaped blooms. Image courtesy of Terrenjpeterson, Wikipedia Commons.

White wood aster grows 1 to 3 feet tall and produces white, daisy-like blooms with widely spaced petals from late summer into fall.

Barrenwort grows to about 1 foot tall, thrives in deep shade, and makes a good ground cover. Blooms with four-pointed petals in shades of white to pink display in the spring.