Southern Living Plant Collection offers a variety of plants, including those with striking foliage and colorful blooms that not only thrive in the shade but stand up to the heat and humidity of summer, too.

If you explore native woodlands, take note they are a combination of both evergreen and deciduous plants. There is also the carpet layer, which includes evergreen perennials and spring ephemerals. If you use this approach when designing your own landscape, your garden will offer interest throughout the year. 

Selections of large leaf evergreen rhododendrons like the Southgate® Series are hybrids that hold up in our intense heat and humidity.  

Aptly named, Southgate® Divine™ starts out pink in bud and opens to white flowers flecked with purple. Use this evergreen as a background for deciduous shrubs or an informal screen.

For a contrast, combine it with Southgate® Radiance™, which has lavender buds opening to light purple.  

A good companion for these large leaf rhododendrons is Pieris, commonly known as Andromeda. The selection Mountain Snow™ boasts striking foliage and pendulous white flowers in spring. When new leaves emerge they start out bronze-red and turn green as they mature. The flower buds appear in summer, persist through winter and open the following spring. This evergreen beauty also attracts birds and butterflies.   

For a combination that offers spring flowers, evergreen structure and summer blooms, combine dogwood, both the native (Cornus florida and selections) or the evergreen Empress of China® Dogwood, with ‘Big Daddy’ Hydrangea and the heat tolerant Yewtopia™ Plum Yew, a selection of Plum Yew that grows 3 to 4 foot tall. 

For part shade, the October Magic® Camellia series offers shrubs in shades of white, pink and magenta which are happy in the garden or in containers. For a colorful contrast, combine them with perennials like 'Cracked Ice,' 'Twilight' or 'Solar Eclipse' Heucherella. 

‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia is perfect for a container in the shade, offering year around beauty. Grow alone, or combine with annuals, changing them out for each season. 

While Loropetalum will grow happily in full sun, it will also tolerate a good bit of shade. Try Purple Pixie® or Purple Diamond® Loropetalum. For privacy in part-shade, Oakland™ Holly or Robin™ Holly offer evergreen foliage and handsome berries.

When it comes to creating a shady retreat, there are many options. Start with the shrubs and trees and then add your perennials, annuals and bulbs.  Select a variety of shrubs to ensure you will have blooms not only in spring but also in summer, fall and winter.

Make sure to include a place to sit and enjoy your garden, too, especially on hot summer days.  

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