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10 Plants That Grow Well in the Shade

Updated on June 4, 2016
Gloriousconfusion profile image

I love gardening, garden design, learning gardening techniques and photographing plants. I was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Black Lily Grows Well in the Shade and Looks Spectacular

Source

Many Plants Prefer Full Shade or Half-Shade

When I wrote a web page about 10 Plants That Grow in the Shade, I had not intended to do a sequel. However, I had overlooked so many beautiful plants that I wanted to show you more of them, so that you can see how many choices you have when planting up a shady area in your garden.

Many new gardeners bemoan having too much shade in their garden. This is understandable if they just wanted to sunbathe, but if you think that nothing much will grow in the shade, think again - I will show you how to choose appropriate plants which will gladden your borders throughout the year.

Think of it as a challenge. You'll be thrilled with the results.

Here is a List of the 10 Shade Tolerant Plants Shown in this Article on Gardening - One or two of the Shade Loving Plants are Unusual, but most are quite common

With thanks to the many readers who gave their suggestions about plants that grow in shade

  1. Astilbe
  2. Lily of the Valley
  3. Hostas
  4. Impatiens Also Known as Busy Lizzie
  5. Trillium
  6. Columbine or Aquilegia
  7. Jack in the Pulpit
  8. Anemone
  9. Epimedium
  10. Dryopteris erythrosora

1. Astilbe - Pink and Purple Feathery Plumes

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There are about 18 different varieties of Astilbe

Astilbe comes in a range of colours, including white, pink, mauve and red. They grow to about 3ft tall, and flower in summer with glorious plumes.

Astilbe is quite at home in full shade or dappled shade, and its small leaves are very ornamental, and give a good show, even when the plants are not in flower.



2. Lily-of-the-Valley a Delicate Little Flower That Blooms in Spring

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Lily-of-the-Valley is also known as Convallaria Majalis

Lily-of-the-Valley is a small perennial woodland plant which grows about 12" high from rhizomes. It flowers in late Spring, but will flower early if the winter has been mild - in my London garden if flowered in May this year.

The flowers are like delicate little bells, white tinged with green, and so pretty. According to my research, they can become a bit invasive, but regrettably this has never been the case in my garden, and, until this year, I have found them a bit difficult to grow. This could be because I have tried to grow them in the sun on my rockery, and perhaps they just didn't like that position.

This year I tried growing them in full shade in a pot which I kept well-watered. They were far more successful than the rockery group.



3. Hostas With Variegated Leaves - They Grow Well in Pots

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hostas

There are many varieties of Hostas

Hostas are grown as much for their broad ornamental leaves as for their somewhat insignificant short flowering blue or white flowers

They are perennials, and die off in autumn, to start producing their clump of leaves in late Spring to early Summer. The leaves vary in colour from pale green or yellowy green in some types, to very dark green or blue-green in other types, or even variegated stripes. They make good ground cover in the shade.

Sadly slugs and snails love them, and can wolf down the lot in one night. I have even bought some which were said to be "slug-resistant", but they certainly weren't, and they just went the same way as the others. This can be very annoying if you have paid a lot for them. Not all gardens have a lot of slugs, and you might be lucky. In my garden, I have found the secret is to grow them in large planters, with a copper ring round the outside, which stops slugs in their tracks. You can buy the strips of metal at garden centers.


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4. Busy Lizzie or Impatiens

Impatiens
Impatiens | Source

Impatiens Also Known as Busy Lizzie

Impatiens grow in various shades of white, pink, salmon and red and can brighten up a dark and shady border. They do need some sunlight, but will tolerate partial shade.

They are long flowering, and usually treated as annuals, although in warmer climates they may be perennials. As they like warmth, they should not be planted outside until late Spring. They rarely need dead-heading, but if they look straggly, you can cut them back a little, and they will sprout new flower heads, and last from Spring through to Autumn.


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5. Trillium Grandiforum

Trilium Grandiflorum
Trilium Grandiflorum | Source

Trillium Grandiflorum

American wood lily is also known as large white wood lily ,snow trillium, wake robin, or white wake robin

Trillium is a perennial plant which grows vigorously in full or part-shade. It grows from rhizomes in a large clump with erect stems, which bear just one white flower with three petals, up to 10 cm. across, in Spring. It grows to about 6 - 9inches (10 - 15 cms) high, with a similar spread.

It needs a sheltered position and likes moist but well drained humus-rich soil, mulching with leaf mould in Autumn. As propagation by seeds takes several years to mature, it is preferable to divide the rhizomes after flowering.

They look good planted under shrubs and roses.

Trilliums do not need pruning and are normally disease-free, but are liked by slugs and snails.


An ornamental Hose Reel

Take This Poll About Propagating Plants - See How You Measure Up Against Other Pollsters

Have some fun! What's the extent of your enthusiasm - are you a real gardener, or just playing?

Do you grow plants from seeds, or do you acquire them when they are growing in pots?

See results

6. Columbine or Aquilegia Comes in Many Different Colors

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Columbine or Aquilegia has delicate bell-shaped flowers and attractive foliage

The flowers of Columbine or Aquilegia range through white, yellow, pink and mauve, with many different combinations. Aquilegia are perennials with long leafy stems which bear flowers with spurs. The plants are hardy, and will grow in half-shade or sun. They grow to about 1ft (30 cm.) high and flower in Summer. Grow them from seeds sown in pots in Spring, and transplant into fertile, moist but well-drained soil. They look good in a rockery as well as in flower beds.

Aquilegias are very pretty - one of my favourite plants. They self-seed and, once estabished, the number of plants increases year by year.


7. Jack in the Pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit
Jack-in-the-Pulpit | Source

Jack in the Pulpit is also known as Arisaema candidissimum

Weird!

White, hooded spathes, striped pale pink, with a greenish tube are 10cm in length and appear in summer. The flowers are carried on long upright stems which grow to about 1 ft. (30cm.) high, followed by a spike of red berries in autumn.

The plants are perennial bulbs and are not fully hardy, possibly needing protection in winter. They grow in full sun or partial shade and like a sheltered position. The bulbs should not be allowed to dry out over winter when dormant. They like a moist, well-drained soil and can be propagated by seeds sown in Autumn or Spring.

Jack in the Pulpit look good in informal gardens, flower borders or as underplanting of roses and shrubs. They don't need to be pruned. They are susceptible to slugs and vine weevil.

They are toxic and can cause skin or eye irritation, or severe discomfort if eaten.


8a. Anemone de Caen Has Brilliant Colours in White, Red, Pink, and Purple

Anemone
Anemone | Source

Anemone de Caen - Nothing Subtle About These Colors!

Anemone de Caen will grow in partial shade provided there is plenty of light, although they do best in a sunny spot. They need a sheltered place, well drained soil and compost or manure. They bear very brightly coloured red, white, pink and purple flowers in June and may bloom for several months.

Anemone de Caen are Ideal for planting in borders, rockeries and tubs. They grow to about 10 inches (20 cm) high.

They are good as cut flowers, when they will last for 7 to 10 days.

Plant the tubers with the pointed end upwards, soaking them overnight first. If you plant them in Autumn, protect them by covering with straw or dead leaves.


--------Confession--------

Although people say that Anemone de Caen is easy to grow, I have never had much success with them. This is not through want of trying, as I love them - so, clearly, I have not given them the appropriate conditions to flourish. I can only warn you to follow the growing instructions carefully when you buy them.

8b. More Anemones - This time Anemone Japonica

Anemone Japonica
Anemone Japonica | Source

Anemone Japonica or Japanese Anemones are Either Pink or White

These are my favourite anemones - the colors are more subtle than that of their little cousins.

They are perennials and, once established, they spread by suckers and by self-seeding. They need to be kept strictly under control if you don't want them to take over the whole garden, but they are what I call good-value flowers, as you'll find them blooming from mid-summer to November or even December if the weather is mild. The leaves are attractive in their own right, so the plants look ornamental even before the flowers develop.

They grow to about 3 - 4 ft. tall. so remember not to plant them in the front of your flower borders.

9. Epimediums are Low-Lying Ground Cover Plants

epimedium alpinum
epimedium alpinum | Source

Epimedium

Epimedium are forest plants and need moist, free draining, humus rich soil, and shade.

Their new leaves are tinted in bronze, copper and reds, turning purple, and red in autumn in some varieties. Apply a mulch to protect new growth from frosts.

Image: Epimedium - Wikipedia Commons

10. Dryopteris Erythrosora - Also Known as Buckler Fern

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Dryopteris Erythrosora (Buckler Fern) is easy to grow

Dryopteris erythrosora is a hardy fern that grows in partial or full shade, and prefers moist heavy soil or clay .

It grows to about 1 foot (60 cm) high, and spreads a similar amount. The fronds are coppery red when emerging and mature to dark green, dying back in winter.

Dryopteris erythrosora needs a lot of water and will benefit with the addition of compost or well-rotted leaf mould.


Here are Some Flower Products I Designed Myself on Zazzle

You can change the designs, add your own wording and even put them on other products - just go through to Zazzle via the links below



White Osteosperm Note Card

by GloriousConfusion

Here's a Video about Shade Loving Garden Plants

Lets see how you feel about getting the right plants for your shady spots

Are you likely to plant any of these plants in your garden?

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    • Rita-K profile image

      Rita-K 5 years ago

      Another wonderful lens! I do enjoy reading your work you have great content. Thanks so much!

    • Tamara14 profile image

      Tamara Kajari 4 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

      You gave me some nice ideas for my little shady part of the garden in our holiday house. Thank you.

    • Tamara14 profile image

      Tamara Kajari 4 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

      You gave me some nice ideas for my little shady part of the garden in our holiday house. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have a few of the plants on this page, but need to get more of them for our north facing border.

    • Scraps2treasures profile image

      Scraps2treasures 4 years ago

      We have a good bit of shade in our yard so I am bookmarking your lens for reference. Blessed!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @BLouw: Someone else suggested that on to me - I hadn't seen it growing either, so you're not alone

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Scraps2treasures: Thanks for the blessing. It's nice to know that you can still grow colorful plants, and of course there are dozens of different kinds of ferns and hostas which love the shade

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 4 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      thank you for this, great page!

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      I love hostas but they don't like my yard even in the shade.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 3 years ago

      Wow! What a beautiful lens! I love this and there are some other plants that grow well in the shade here where I live :)

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      @takkhisa: Thanks for the compliment. I have done 3 lenses altogether about different shade-loving plants - you can find them via the links on my page

    • LaptopLeader profile image

      LaptopLeader 3 years ago

      A lovely lens! :) We don't have much sunlight here, so these plants may be good options.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      @LaptopLeader: I enjoy the challenge of making a shady area flourish

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I always enjoy your gardening pages, and you've showcased some lovely shade plants here. Many are among my favorites.

    • DreyaB profile image

      DreyaB 2 years ago from France

      I've never had to garden for shady areas until we moved here and I'm just starting to get an idea of what might grow in our 'woody' conditions, so thanks for the details. Will take alook at your other page too. :0)

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
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      Diana Grant 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      @DreyaB: good luck with your new gardening techniques!

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 2 years ago

      I thought I had seen this page before., Guess I was wrong. I have read it now for sure and will share it for our WEekend Gardeners on FB too! Thanks .

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
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      Diana Grant 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      @GrammieOlivia: Yes, I've done 3 different lenses about shade tolerant plants because there are quite a lot of them

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 2 years ago from West Virginia

      I've grown the short yellow lilies on the side of my house that only has part sun, and they have done well.

    • newbizmau profile image

      Guided Abundance 2 years ago from Mobile, AL

      I've been having problems with this. Now I have a whole list to choose from. Thanks

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 2 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      I have had mixed success in the shady parts of my garden. And I have to admit one of my greatest failures has been lily of the valley - which is really a shame since they are one of my favorites!

    • donaldwilson profile image

      Don Wilson 2 years ago from Yakima, WA

      We have some hostas on the shady side of our house. They grow quite well as long as we keep them under the eaves of the house and behind taller plants, well out of the hot sunshine. We happen to live in a very sunny dry area.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 22 months ago from Germany

      What beautiful flowers you have there! I have some of these flowers in my tropical garden like hostas and they really are growing well in the shade. Thanks for sharing this hub as it is indeed very interesting and informative. Voted up and useful.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
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      Diana Grant 22 months ago from United Kingdom

      It's nice to be told that you found it informative - then I know I'm on the right lines

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 12 months ago from The Caribbean

      Very interesting, informative -- and inspiring. It inspires me to make the effort to improve on my gardening. The pictures are so beautiful. Thank you.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 11 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Very informative and educational hub about gardening !

      I enjoy gardening and growing plants. But I do not have much space in my flat. I satisfy my hobby by growing plants in some earthen pots. Would like to try some of your useful and helpful tips. Beautiful pictures and well presented hub.

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
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      Diana Grant 11 months ago from United Kingdom

      And thank you too - this is the sort of reply that inspires me to write more articles

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 11 months ago from United Kingdom

      I also grow lots of plants indoors - it's important to choose their position in order for them to flourish - some like to be in a sunny window and others prefer to be away from the sun

    • profile image

      Christiane-Qu├ębec 11 months ago

      J'ai plusieurs plantes d'ombre mais j'aime toujours en découvrir d'autres. Merci à vous tous.

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