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How to Grow Flowers in the Shade

Updated on October 23, 2016
Hosta and Lambs Ear
Hosta and Lambs Ear | Source

Where to Begin

When I think of planting a garden I like to start with an anchor plant. A shade Garden is beautiful with Ferns and Hosta. Hosta comes in all sizes and shapes. Do some research to choose what some of your favorite hosta plants might be. Hosta is known for its varying foliage from dark green to light green, variegated or not. Flowers can be lavender or pure white. They are usually on tall slender stalks. My yard is full of hosta. Three different varieties. I have Patriot which is a variegated light green. Guacamole hosta. Light green solid leaves and a solid dark green variety.

Hostas like morning sun .Generally the darker tipped leaf hosta prefer more shade than white or lighter leaf hosta.

Bring color into your garden with more flowers or colorful foliage plants like. I like impatience in the summer. They are typically annuals but will reseed. They come in pink, white, violet and red.

Autumn ferns are great because of there fall like color seen on new growth. They are large and very hardy. My shade garden has many silver leaf ferns that have a beautiful silver color. They too are easy to grow.

Beautiful Shady Container Garden

My Shade Garden

My Shade Garden Pink Impatiens, Ferns These are silver leaf ferns.
My Shade Garden Pink Impatiens, Ferns These are silver leaf ferns. | Source
Herchera, ferns, Caladiums
Herchera, ferns, Caladiums | Source
My Shade Garden Hydrangea, impatiens,, hosta, ferns, succulent
My Shade Garden Hydrangea, impatiens,, hosta, ferns, succulent | Source

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Hearts are hardy in zones 3 through 9 and are not eaten by deer
Bleeding Hearts are hardy in zones 3 through 9 and are not eaten by deer

Shrubs for shade

Hydrangea are beautiful and easy shrubs to add to any garden. There are many varieties to choose from. I like the Lace cap that i got from my mother's garden and the oak leaf. The Oak leaf can actually take more sun. As you see in the photo it has been paired with lambs ears which I have grown in both shade and sun.

Whenever I plant a shade garden I like to add Heuchera. It comes in many different colors. It tolerates the cold well and seem rabbit resistant. You will be rewarded with pretty flower stalks in the early Spring. My shade garden also has 2 types of ferns and lenten roses. I have ivy growing up my brick wall. The ivy reminds me of my childhood in Atlanta where the older homes had lots of ivy covered walls.

Later we moved near Princeton and enjoyed seeing the ivy covered old building thus the name ivy league schools.

Fiskars Softouch Garden Tool 3 Piece Set, 70676935J
Fiskars Softouch Garden Tool 3 Piece Set, 70676935J

Fiskars are my tried and true gardening tools. They last and you won't have trouble with bent handles!

Shade garden with Coral Bells, Impatiens, Hakone Grass and Lady Fern. hosta in background.
Shade garden with Coral Bells, Impatiens, Hakone Grass and Lady Fern. hosta in background. | Source

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Fairfield Farms Shade Gardens

Astilbe, Bleeding Heart and Hydrangea
Astilbe, Bleeding Heart and Hydrangea | Source
Variegated Lace-cap Hydrangea and Shasta Daisy “Becky”
Variegated Lace-cap Hydrangea and Shasta Daisy “Becky”

Plants safe around Deer and Rabbits

I have quite a bit of trouble with rabbit and deer eating my plants and have found that both bleeding heart and astilbe are safe around these animals. Hosta is one of their favorites

A new plant I have added and feel your garden is not complete without Lenten Roses or Christmas Roses. They are the first to bloom in the Spring and the blooms hang on for weeks. There are beautiful colors to choose from including white, lavender, pink, red, etc. They are also deer resistant and once established multiply and need little care.

Other plants that are deer resistant and ferns and Heuchera. Heuchera or Coral Bells come in many different varieties. They change color throughout the seasons.

All these plants are perennials and will come back every year.


Heuchera with pink flowers
Heuchera with pink flowers

Planting Shade Gard

Lenten Rose A Shade Garden Must

White Lenten Roses
White Lenten Roses | Source
Pink Lenten Rose
Pink Lenten Rose | Source
Lenten Roses I have all these in my garden
Lenten Roses I have all these in my garden
Lenten rose. This plant is a beautiful cut flower . See the beautiful pattern on the petals.
Lenten rose. This plant is a beautiful cut flower . See the beautiful pattern on the petals.

Annuals for Shade Garden

Annuals for shade garden. Annuals have to be planted every year although in some areas that are warm enough they will live year round. I am in zone 7 so planting plants like begonias, impatiens and coleus have to be planted every spring. Even petunia's can be planted in some shade as long as you get some sun for part of the day.

Many winters I have had success bringing my plants into the garage when it freezes. I allow them to dry out quite a bit but on warm summer winter days I take them back outside and water. Most of these are all in containers and can be moved to your garden when chance of freeze has past.


Some of my favorite perennials in my garden are my heuchera or coral bells, my painted fern, and Autumn fern which turns a beautiful red color in the fall.

Lenten rose I already spoke of and is an awesome perennial. It should be planted in loamy soil with pine needle or other ground cover to keep it protected in the winter.

I have hosta in all my shade garden despite my deer problems. I love the long slender lavender flowers they treat me too every summer.

This year my hydrangea did not bloom. I am not sure why. I have beautiful foliage but we had and exceptionally cold winter and a very dry summer. Better luck next year.

Think of adding trees. Dogwoods prefer shade to sun and are gorgeous in early spring in pink and white.

Bleeding heart in white and red as well as astilbe with it's feather like flowers are colorful additions to any shade garden.

Both Elephant ears and Caladiums in Red and White looks awesome with their colorful foliage.

Planting and Preparing your Soil

When planting a new garden prepare your soil for each plant. Some gardeners like to put newspaper over the planting area to prevent weeds. Later the newspaper will decompose. Some of your plants will do fine with little care but others need fertilizer and compost added.Long lasting slow release fertilizer is safe for your plants. Get your garden center to help as needed. Plant bare root plants in a hole large enough for the roots to reach out. Soak bare root plants in water when they arrive and before you plant. Water as necessary for the first year or two depending on your climate. You may need to dig up some perennials in the northern climates to protect your plant from the cold. This would include the caladiums.

Great Links

Planting a shade garden is really easy .Look for an area in your yard that gets morning sun and some shade in the afternoon. Start small and pick out plants you love as you go The main thing is Have Fun!!!!


Submit a Comment
  • nancynurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy McClintock 

    4 years ago from Southeast USA

    Thank you so much. Happy Easter to you also!!!!!

  • Thelma Alberts profile image

    Thelma Alberts 

    4 years ago from Germany and Philippines

    What a beautiful hub! Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful. Happy Easter!

  • nancynurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy McClintock 

    4 years ago from Southeast USA

    Thank you so much for your comments and ideas. I love to garden and try to find new plants all the time. I so appreciate your interest.

  • profile image


    4 years ago

    Each month I search over Blogs and pick a colpue to follow. I am pretty choosy and pick those that I think can add to my garden experience. I like yours and will be following it. Wish you well in your upcoming postings. I like what I have read for the pst postings. Hope to learn from you. Here on Lake Michigan there are so many possibilities for design. Many of which I try. Jack

  • poetryman6969 profile image


    4 years ago

    Some lovely gardening ideas.


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