▷ 15 Beautiful Shade Plants for Your Garden

15 Beautiful Shade Plants for Your Garden

Written by Roxanne O’Brien-Troke / July 11, 2018
15 Beautiful Shade Plants for Your Garden

When you head to your local garden store to select plants, you might be tempted to just pick up whatever catches your eye. But before you plant your garden, you’ll need to choose plants that can survive the conditions in your yard.

Although many plants thrive in the sun, there are also quite a few plants that love living in the shade. Typically a sun loving plant needs to be planted in a location where it will get a large amount of sunlight in order to survive. Likewise, a shade plant needs shady conditions or it could wither up and die. There’s nothing sadder than a garden full of shriveled up plants and flowers, so if you have a yard or garden full of shade, these beautiful shade plant options are right for you.

1. Hostas (Plantain Lillies)

Hostas, also known as plantain lilies, are low maintenance plants that are very shade tolerant. They come in a variety of colors and normally leaves are solid green, green and yellow, or green and white. Hostas are very hardy and can provide great ground cover, but they’re also a great snack for rabbits and deer. If you have a lot of wildlife in your backyard, you might want to consider a more deer resistant plant.

2. Coral Bells (Hechura)

Coral bells, commonly called hechura, come in a variety of colors and can compliment any shady gardenscape. They attract hummingbirds but are deer resistant. Heuchera are low maintenance, pest resistant, and look great in summer or winter.

3. Dead Nettle (Lamium Maculatum)

Dead nettle or lamium is often used as a groundcover and its yellow variety prefers shady conditions. It can be mistaken for the stinging nettle, but it doesn’t have stinging hairs, which is why it is referred to as, “dead.” Very much alive, this plant spreads quickly and can become invasive if left to grow wild.

4. Foxgloves (Digitalis)

Foxglove plants are great to plant in a space where you have a lot of room vertically. Their stems can grow up to six feet tall and are covered with tubular flowers. Used in certain heart medications, this plant is toxic and deer resistant. But children and household pets should also avoid contact with digitalis to prevent accidental poisoning.

5. Primrose (Primula)

The beautiful and dainty primrose plant comes in a variety of vibrant colors and can add a pop of color to your garden. Primrose plants are known to multiply, and over time, a garden full of primrose plants will become even more lush and vibrant. Slugs and snails are attracted to the primrose, so you’ll need to keep an eye out to make sure that your primrose plants aren’t damaged by these or other pests.

6. Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos Spectabilis)

Known for being a shade loving plant, the bleeding heart produces heart shaped blooms in the spring. After it blooms, it will die back a little and then begin to bloom again in the summer months. They’re deer resistant and rabbit resistant, but if eaten in large quantities, they can also be harmful to household pets.

7. Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia)

A lush, shade loving variety of fern plants is the ostrich fern. It can grow up to six feet in height and has large, plume-like leaves. Deer resistant, this species of fern is used to harvest fiddlehead fronds in the spring and are a popular springtime delicacy.

8. White Trillium (Trillium Grandiflorum)

This woodland flower is recognized by its three white leaves, and is sometimes referred to as a wood lily. The white trillium thrives in deep, wooded areas or thickets. When it blooms, its flowers are large and vibrant, but as the plant ages, it may produce pink flowers instead of white flowers.

9. Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina)

This elegant fern produces large, feathery leaves that serve as a great groundcover. They grow best in moist areas, especially near ponds or streams.

10. Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta)

Often seen growing in rocky cliffs or in the banks of streams, these spotted flowers can add visual interest to a shaded garden. Resembling an orchid, they’re low maintenance but can grow up to three feet tall.

11. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria)

Bloodroot is a wildflower native to shady areas. If cut, its stem leaks a bright red liquid resembling blood that has been used as a type of dye in the past. It can be poisonous if ingested, so be sure to keep pets and children away from this plant if you choose to grow it in your garden.

12. Amethyst Flower (Browallia Hybrids)

Often found in tropical regions, the amethyst flower thrives in warmer climates. It is a perennial plant, so it can grow year after year, but it generally doesn’t bloom after one season and is often treated like an annual plant.

13. Begonia (Tuberous)

Begonias come in many varieties and can grow short or tall in a wide range of colors and bloom shapes. Wax begonias prefer very shady conditions and once they’re planted, they require little maintenance.

14. Coleus (Solenostemon Scutellarioides)

Coleus provide vibrant foliage all growing season long. They come in nearly every color under the rainbow and have varied leaf shapes. They grow well directly in the ground or in a container garden.

15. Hydrangea

Hydrangea produce stunning blooms that can brighten up any garden. Certain varieties of hydrangea can bloom one color one year and a different color the next based on the soil’s pH. It’s best to wait to try and change the pH of the plant until it’s at least a few years old and well established in your garden.

No matter how much space or sunlight you have in your yard or container garden, there are plenty of beautiful options for you to grow a great garden even in the shadiest of conditions.

About the author

    Roxanne O’Brien-Troke

    Roxanne O’Brien-Troke is a Cleveland based writer with a passion for all things natural and plant-based. As a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady and fitness enthusiast, she spends her free time volunteering at an animal shelter as a cat adoption coordinator, running, and going to spin classes.

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