Some shrubs that thrive in USDA hardiness zone 5 include mountain laurel, rhododendron, witch hazel and some hydrangea varieties. All of these plants grow well in partial to full shade.
Mountain laurel grows up to 15 feet tall and produces pink, red and white flowers each summer. Rhododendron shrubs grow up to 10 feet tall and produce large blooms in the spring. A witch hazel shrub grows up to 12 feet tall, and its flowers have a stringy, fringed appearance when they bloom in the fall or winter. Hydrangeas normally thrive in the South, but the Endless Summer variety tolerates the colder temperatures of zone 5, growing up to 5 feet tall. The oakleaf hydrangea also is recommended for zone 5, according to The Virginia Gardener.