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tree or shrub for shady spot?

Plainfield, NJ

We want to plant some large shrubs - or a tree - in front of our front porch to give us a little privacy. Problem is, this spot gets only about 2 hours of sun each day, in the morning. I wanted rhodies but I think they need more sun. Ideally, I want something that will grow fairly fast. I'm dreaming, right? Will ANYTHING, fast- or slow-growing, survive on that little sun?? Yes, I know astilbes... but they don't get 8 feet tall.
Any advice will be much appreciated!
- Jan (North Central New Jersey)

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Look for the post by dwk.

I would caution against any fast growing tree having had some bad experiences with weak limbs on two fast growers.

Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

I have several trees growing in part shade that zoomed up fairly fast:

Cercis-Redbud: though beautiful, is upright so it may not provide porch cover.
Styrax: (Loaded with pink buds in late Spring) and fairly dense.
Amelanchier-Serviceberry (White buds early spring but short bloom time) shrubby

---- the following may or may not be what you want:
Kerria japonica is a tall shrub. Mine is in part shade. Many yellow spring flowers.
Many Jap. Maples are ok in part shade but don't grow fast.
I have a Stewartia in light shade which grew fast. Doesn't bloom every year.
Sassafrass trees grow like weeds (I pull up a dozen every year) in shade but don't provide much cover.
Several Cryptomeria, Picea and Tsuga tolerate half shade but don't grow very fast.
I have been told that Heptacodium miconioides (Seven Sons Flower Tree) grows fairly fast in shade, but have not seen it myself.
I saw a Halesia carolina (Carolina Silverbell) growing in part shade at a nursery but don't know how fast it grows.
I have several wild Cornus florida growing in a dense wood, but they were here when I bought the property so I don't know how fast they grow.
Symphoricarpos albus (Snowberry) is a large shrub which grows in shade but I don't know how fast.
Many viburnums reach 8+ feet and grow in shade. If they grow as fast as my double-file viburnum (in half shade), one may be satisfactory for your purpose.
Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice) is 6-9 ft and survives in deep shade. I just started a small one so I don't know how fast it grows yet.

Hobart, IN

Some shrubs and trees will actually stretch to get some sun so allow plenty of space between the specimen and any structure. My Viburnum plicatum is about 13 years old and is about 10 ft across. Gorgeous when in bloom but I would never have thought that it would get that wide. My Kousa dogwood planted in dappled shade is reaching to the west and more sun. Carolina allspice does great in the shade and even blooms in the spring but it does have a very open habit.
I've always been intrigued by Stewartia but have tried one or even seen one.

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