Suggestions on what to plant in part shade next to woods

I’m looking for some suggestions on hardy plants to grow in a partially shaded spot next to some woods. The trees on the South part of my property create shade most of the year except during the middle of the summer when the sun is overhead. I was thinking of currants and gooseberry, maybe honeyberry? The soil is sandy and acidic and zone 4b/5a. Hoping I can find something that will actually produce something. Any suggestions?

This is the area, the satellite image was in March:

This one was in April a different year:

I also did some work this fall to clear out a bunch of the extra growth in the area to the East. This needs some more work before planting anything though.


I agree with currants and gooseberries. Some people do not like the flavor of black currants (I love them), reds are tart and loved by birds, and whites and pinks are pretty sweet. Once you get to a critical mass of berries, the losses to birds does not seem too bad, in my experience. You can cover them with netting or a row cover when they are ripening if you are concerned about birds. From a picking perspective, having currants on long strings are nice for harvesting.

I enjoy gooseberries and they grow pretty easily. Honeyberries have been slow to grow and produce for me, maybe I need to fertilize. Also, birds have far more agressive toward honeyberries than currants or gooseberries.

I grow my currants and gooseberries under my overgrown grape trellis and they do just fine.


i 2nd black currants. even if you don’t like eating them off bush the juice and jam is fabulous and they are very productive. mulch them well on your sandy soil they should grow just fine. they will produce fruit sometimes by 2nd year from a cutting. gooseberry and other currants too but slower to establish. i have 6 types of honeyberries and they grow pretty fast here but they are on clay in direct sun all day. id mulch them heavily with compost and then with regular mulch. they should take off for you. if you like rhubarb, it will grow well there as well. maybe a weeping mulberry. they seem to tolerate some shade. let me know next spring and i can send you some cuttings/ rhizomes of all of the above.

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Part shade next to woods in Z4-5…

Black Raspberries
Himalayan Blackberries


I have a very similar situation. Filled mine with hazelnut, hardy kiwi, and mushrooms.


Too cold for pawpaws there?

Evergreen Huckleberry grows better in shade but fruits more in sunlight.
I just looked up the growing zones and they are 7-9,so survival may be questionable.


Possibly research

Cranberry Viburnum
Box Huckleberry

Pawpaw might survive, American Persimmon might as well if both are given good mulch/protection.

Does Aronia need lots of light?

You might get away with saskatoons or other serviceberry, or possibly the romance bush cherries?

Hi Travis,
Maybe use the area with the most shade to install a large compost area to create materials useful where you have more sun. A shaded area will help reduce the water demand of composting while creating useful mulch and soil amending materials. The partial shaded areas can most likely support loquats and Feijoa which do not require full sun but may do well in your climate. I know people growing them here and they do quite well.
Kent, wa


I think Pawpaws would work. NC-1 was bred in Ontario. You just need early ripening varieties.

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Based on my Fejoia experience I would not recommend them unless trying in a greenhouse… They don’t like to dip below low 20s as far as I know.

That is not the case here we have many days in the low teens and Feijoa do quite well. If you stick with some of the varieties developed for cooler regions of which we have about 9-10 to choose from, it should be ok. I’m not sure how low they can tolerate, but we grow them here and experience many cold days well below freezing.

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There is a new thread by a friend of mine “Tracking Feijoa in the PNW” worth following to learn where new varieties are being tried and seem to work. A nursery Restoring Eden is located on a high plateau locally here and has a large variety selection all capable of producing fruit in our region.
Kent, wa

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@ZombieFruit @steveb4 I love black currants. I was able to get about a gallon from my bushes this past year. I’ve been eating them frozen on my yogurt in the morning. I wouldn’t mind having more. Although they’re kind of a pain to harvest.

It always seemed to me like raspberries liked sunnier areas. I have tons of wild ones growing in the woods around me, but they never produce that well. Never heard of wineberries before, they look interesting.

@Robert how have the hazelnut done in the shade. I have about 20 seedlings I started this past year. I’m trying to figure out where to put them. I’ve been wanting to try kiwi again too. I killed the last ones I had by over fertilizing them. Mushrooms are on my to-do list this next spring. I have some oak earmarked for plugging.

@ampersand borderline… Everything I’ve read is that I would need a longer growing season to get any fruit from them.

@disc4tw thanks, I hadn’t heard of Cranberry Viburnum or Box Huckleberry before. Elderberry would probably work, I wouldn’t mind having a few more of them around. I’m giving up on persimmon for now. I’ve tried a few the past couple of years and they always die to the snowline. Saskatoons and bush cherries are on my list for next year too. Not sure where they’re going yet though. I’ve been debating on Aronia. My neighbor has some and I’m not fond of the taste raw, but I’ve never tried them processed.

@DennisD good idea on the compost. I’m needing a dedicated compost area. I’m not great about keeping my existing pile watered. I’m thinking it’ll be too cold for Feijoa. We usually get down to at least -25 with some weeks not getting above 0.

Clove currants, are they worth raising?

If you have the environment for it go with watermelon berries. Don’t grow them for the berries which while interesting enough they are few and seedy, grow them for the amazing stalks that come in the spring. We like them better than asparagus.

Devil’s club is a great medicinal and the tender shoots are also super tasty.

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I am planning on ordering one from Whitman Farms this year based on recommendations here.

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Wild raspberry grows best in a sunny location that is partially shaded. This plant requires 6 to 8 hours of sunlight during the growing season and can become sunburned during periods of hot, direct sun.

Some folks on here grow theirs under shade cloth.

here in z4 plants that benefit from some shade in z6 and higher do best in full sun further north. though they will grow in part shade they will do so slowly with little fruit. from my experience. all cane fruit here need at least 7-8hrs of direct sun to grow and produce well.


they are much better for fresh eating than the euro blacks but for processing they arent as good or as productive as the euro blacks. my tiben blacks grow 6ft by 5ft in full sun and are weighed down when full of fruit.

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Do you have any tricks on harvesting them quickly?