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How to Create an Easy, Colorful Shade Garden - Hostas, Impatiens and Periwinkle

Updated on February 6, 2018

Gardening has been a passion of mine since I was 11 years old when a neighbor gave me her extra annuals to plant in my yard. I set those few marigolds in a sunny spot, and they quickly burst into color, giving me the impression that I had a natural green thumb. It was pretty disappointing the next year though when I tried to bring that brilliant yellow color to a shady part of my parents' backyard. I learned the hard way that not all plants work in all situations. Over the years, through trial and error, I gained the knowledge needed to get great gardening results in all kinds of conditions - from extreme sun to intense shade - and with very little effort. I found the easiest way to fill a dark spot in your garden is to find one perennial, one annual, and/or one ground cover to keep that shady area looking colorful, bright and lush from Spring through Fall. Here are my top three picks to fill a shady spot in your garden:


This was the first shade-loving plant I ever worked with and had amazing success. It's a hearty perennial that never fails to deliver lush foliage that comes in several shades of green. Some varieties are even striated with pale yellow or white stripes which can really lighten up a shady area of your yard. In late summer, hostas produce delicate pale purple flowers - a welcome bit of color as autumn approaches. Fluffy hostas are also the perfect choice to plant near rocks, decks and fences because they tend to soften the look of hard edges. Hostas get fuller year after year and can easily be divided and replanted, which can also save you money! These no-fail plants are a must for shady gardens.

Hosta is fluffy and full
Hosta is fluffy and full | Source


I learned quickly that this is the most colorful flower available for shade gardens. This cheery annual is a fast bloomer that expands quickly and provides vivid color throughout the spring and summer. Impatiens thrive in shade and come in variety of hues - red, white, pink, salmon, and peach - and all they really need is water. Impatiens are THE choice when you want to add color to a shady area of your yard. Choose a tone that compliments the color of your house or echos some of the hues in other parts of your yard. If the spot is really dark, I like to plant white impatiens - the brightness really draws the eye to an area that might otherwise be overlooked.

Impatiens comes in many vibrant colors
Impatiens comes in many vibrant colors | Source


This was the first plant I ever ordered from a catalog. In most parts of the country, this easy-to-grow flowering groundcover thrives in shade. Periwinkle provides tiny blue, white or pink blooms in the spring, and a dense carpet of green throughout the summer months. This low-maintenance plant spreads and becomes fuller with every year making it the perfect option for those on a budget who want a luxurious, rich looking garden.

Periwinkle spreads and gets fuller every year
Periwinkle spreads and gets fuller every year | Source

A Great Resource

Glorious Shade: Dazzling Plants, Design Ideas, and Proven Techniques for Your Shady Garden
Glorious Shade: Dazzling Plants, Design Ideas, and Proven Techniques for Your Shady Garden

This book has a lot of great ideas for your shady garden areas. And the gorgeous photos are a great inspiration!


Give It a Try!

Hosta, impatiens and periwinkle are all easy to maintain -- just give them a lot of water in the beginning to help establish the roots. Then sit back and admire their beauty! Any one of these plants, or a combination of all three, can bring color, light and life to a dark area in your yard and make it easy to have a beautiful shade garden!

Most Popular Garden Color Combo

What is your favorite color combination?

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    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      5 years ago from Fontana, WI

      Love all things natural and the garden especially. The hostas are an investment - they will last and multiply for generations to come - so many things in life are short term. To make a lasting impression in your home, the second best item beyond a tree is the hosta for me.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image


      5 years ago from Kansas

      We have hostas, but I've never really given Impatiens much of a try. I might have to change that this year.

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 

      5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      Great combo idea. I never think of periwinkle. Good old periwinkle seems so aggressive where I live. But I do like the color. ^+

    • Marsha Musselman1 profile image

      Marsha Musselman 

      6 years ago from Michigan, USA

      The periwinkle almost looks like a bell flower (I think that's the name). I never realized that impatiens spread when planted in the ground, although I tend to stay away from annuals other than one hanging plant a year.

      I'm getting some free hostas in the fall as the person that is giving them away can't see them to enjoy them anymore. I have hopes of getting my garden completely weeded so I can enjoy the actual flowers more.

      Thanks for a great hub and gorgeous pictures.

    • elle444 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Silver Poet, thank you! It was just a lot of trial and error! Thanks for checking out my hub!

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 

      8 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      Sounds like you're a landscape artist!

    • elle444 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks for checking out my hub!

    • apStumbo profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice, thanks a lot!

    • elle444 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      RTalloni - thanks for your comment! Glad it helped!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the periwinkle reminder. I need to get busy and transplant some!


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