10 Shade Garden Plants

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Not all areas of a yard or garden space receive full sun. For many plants, six to eight hours of sunshine is a requirement for growth and vibrant blooms.

However, shady areas can contribute their own unique beauty. The north side of a house or garage, the space beneath leafy trees or spots overshadowed by taller plants are perfect for these 10 shade garden plants.

10 Shade Garden Plants

Shade Garden Perennials

Like their sun loving kin, these perennials return year after year, however they thrive in partial to full shade.

Hosta

Available in a variety of patterns and hues of green, these magnificent plants often anchor the shade garden. Although they are known for their showy leaves, hostas bloom too. They produce tall stalks of white flowers in the summer. These plants can grow to be three feet in diameter so give them plenty of space.

Coral Bells

These beauties put up masses of tiny pink, white, red or coral bell-shaped flowers. Although the delicate flowers are pretty, coral bells show off with gorgeous foliage as well. The leaves vary from dark green to purple to bronze. The low mounding plants stay under two feet tall.

Hydrangea

This shrubby plant appreciates light shade and tolerates morning or late afternoon sun. Hydrangea produces large round clusters of flowers, in pinks, blues and white. This plant can grow up to four feet tall.

10 Shade Garden PlantsCoral bells, hydrangea and hosta share space in my shade garden.

Ferns

Have you ever walked through a forest and noticed wild ferns growing beneath the trees? Ferns thrive in cool, shady, damp conditions. In the garden plant beneath trees or other taller plants. Or place ferns in containers and hang or display on covered porches. They come in a variety of shapes with colors ranging from bright greens to deep earth tones to purples.

Astilbe

This showy plant is one of the most popular for the shade garden. They send up plumes of flowers in pink, lavender, red, white or salmon above fern-like foliage. They range in height from six inches to five feet, depending on the variety. The smaller astilbe plants do well in containers.

10 Shade Garden PlantsThis lovely Japanese fern thrives in my garden where it is shaded by ornamental grasses, clematis and irises.

Shade Garden Annuals

These annuals provide color even in the shade. Fill in any gaps in the shade garden with these easy to care for plants. Or place in containers on covered porches and patios.

Polka Dot Plants

Also called freckle face plants, these common plants produce colorful foliage. Colors vary. Some plants show off green leaves sprinkled with pink dots while others produce red whorls on a green background. Although known for their foliage, polka dot plants bear tiny pink or white flowers on slender stalks in late summer. They make ideal container plants and generally stay under a foot in height.

Coleus

Another plant with colorful foliage, coleus comes in a wide variety of leaf sizes and shapes. Leaves are typically variegated in reds, greens, browns, yellows and pinks. Easy to care for, these plants grow quickly, up to 18 inches tall. Coleus makes an idea container plant. Place them in darker corners of porches to brighten up the space.

Impatiens

These adorable flowering plants are available in so many colors. Use them to create a monochromatic shade garden, using all white or all pink flowers, for a dramatic touch. Or tuck a combination of colors into containers and place them in shady spots. I use these versatile flowers in containers in darker corners of the garden, on the porch, and in containers on the north side of the house. They wilt easily so keep them well watered.

10 Shade Garden PlantsNew Guinea impatiens, coleus and a polka dot plant in containers beneath the red bud tree. Rilynn is my garden cat. She loves the flowers.

Foxglove

These beautiful plants create interest with their bell shaped flowers on tall stems. Reaching a height of six feet, foxgloves thrive in partial or full shade, making them a very versatile plant. In cooler climates they even do well in full sun. (Check your planting zone on the map HERE.) The clusters of flowers range in color from white to yellow and lavender to pink. Like most of the shade loving plants, keep foxgloves well watered.

Begonia

One of the easiest plants to grow and maintain, begonias boast attractive foliage and pretty little flowers. Both can be a variety of colors. The leaves may be pale or dark green or bronze, while the flowers bloom in white, reds and pinks. Begonias do well in the shade garden as a low growing border plant. Or pop them into containers and place them anywhere a shot of color is needed.

These are my favorite plants to fill my vintage red wooden box, that belonged to my aunt. I use a variety of clay pots to group the begonias together. Keep these plants well watered as well. With shade garden plants, a good rule of thumb is to water them every day, especially during hot weather.

10 Shade Garden PlantsBegonias make excellent container plants and look wonderful grouped together.

Backyard Garden Series

From perennials to annuals, herbs to shade gardens, I’ve got you covered with the Backyard Garden Series. Check out some of the other posts below:

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12 Replies to “10 Shade Garden Plants”

  1. I have a few shady areas that I need to add plants to, so this is the perfect guide. I love Impatiens and that says a lot since I’m not a flower person. But, my grandparents grew them and I remember my sister and I fighting over popping the seed pops. So much fun.

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