12 Best Plants to Grow in Shade

If your garden space gets a little sunlight and is mostly shady, you can still bring your landscape design ideas to life with colorful shade-loving plants.

Whether annuals or perennials, these shade plants thrive in limited sunlight and cooler climates with plenty of moisture. They can bloom with less than three hours of direct sunlight (full shade) or three to six hours of daily sunlight (partial shade).

But before you shop for shade plants, observe your garden throughout the day and know the hours of sunlight it gets. This will help you choose the right shade plant for your garden’s conditions.

Plus, ensure the plants are suited to your USDA Plant Hardiness zone and can thrive in your location.

With that said, here are 12 of the best shade-loving plants to make your yard or garden space bloom with beauty!

12 Best Flowers and Plants that grow well in shade

Want to add a pop of color and brighten up dark spots in your garden?

These 12 shade-loving plants and flowers will do the trick.

  1. Hosta


    Source: Marc Ryckaert

    If you want to add elegance to your landscape design, Hostas are a great choice.

    This perennial is a fast-growing, versatile shade plant that thrives best in rich, moist soil. Often regarded as the ‘Queen of the Shade Garden’, Hostas are grown for their attractive foliage, which comes in different colors, leaf shapes, sizes, and patterns.

    Hostas are toxic to pets due to the toxic glycoside saponins found inside the plant. Ensure you follow the planting guidelines on plant tags and avoid planting them too closely together to prevent any foliage problems.

    • Shade: Full or Partial
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9
    • Soil: Grows in loamy, well-drained, and acidic soil
    • Mature Size (Height/Spread): 6–48 in. tall, 10–60 in. wide
    • Type: Perennial
    • Varieties to Try: ‘Empress Wu’, ‘June’, ‘Patriot’, ‘Blue Angel, or ‘Golden Tiara’.
  2. Foxglove


    Source: Matthijs van den Berg

    Foxglove, also referred to as Digitalis Purpurea, thrives in partial shade but sometimes requires more sun. It’s a biennial woodland plant that comes in many varieties.

    The cottage-style favorite is mostly grown as an ornamental plant, thanks to its vivid bell-shaped flowers that bloom in late spring and summer. Its flowers appear in different bright colors including pink, peach, lavender, white, yellow, and red.

    Due to its nectar-rich flowers, Foxglove is loved by pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Its leaves are also rich in medicinal properties and have been historically used to treat heart conditions for centuries.

    • Shade: Partial shade
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 – 8
    • Soil: Rich and moist
    • Mature Size: 3-8 ft. tall, 1-3 ft. wide
    • Type: Biennial
    • Varieties to Try: Common Foxglove, Strawberry Foxglove, Foxy, Candy Mountain, Alba, and Camelot Lavender.
  3. Bleeding Hearts


    Source: Mokkie

    If you desire color and variety, Bleeding Hearts are a must-have shade plant in your garden. The charming perennial plants grow best in partial to full shade, so direct sunlight does not diminish the bloom of its delicate flowers.

    Its heart-shaped blossoms come in a range of colors from deep reds to light pinks with dangling white tips hanging from the flower stems. The plant can grow up to 3 ft. tall, depending on the variety. Due to their delicate nature, Bleeding Hearts need protection from strong winds so it’s best to plant them closer to a windbreak.

    Also, they are toxic to humans and pets so be mindful about where you plant it.

    • Shade: Partial to Full shade
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9
    • Soil: Evenly moist, well-drained, & acidic to neutral
    • Mature Size(Height/Spread): 1–3 ft. tall, 2–3 ft. wide
    • Type: Perennial
    • Varieties to Try: Burning Hearts Dicentra, Valentine, King of Hearts, Gold Heart, and Aurora
  4. Astilbe


    Free for use – No attribution required (LINK)

    Astilbe (Astilbe spp.) is an easy-to-grow perennial flower with tall, stiff stalks and long-blooming, plume-like flowers. These flowers come in soft hues of violet, white, pink, and red, making the deciduous plant stand out in any woodland garden.

    They need very little maintenance and should be cut whenever they start to look ragged. Astilbe are also virtually pest-free, only bothered by few diseases or insects.

    The plant combines well with hostas, ferns, and coral bells.

    • Shade: Partial and Full
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-8
    • Soil: Loamy and constantly moist
    • Mature Size (Height/Spread): 1-4 ft. tall and wide
    • Type: Perennial
    • Varieties to Try: Pumila, Chocolate Shogun, Rheinland, Visions, Bridal Veil, and Ostrich Plume.
  5. Fuchsia


    Source: oom_endro

    Fuchsia brings some color to your garden beds. These stunning shade-loving annual flowers come in a splash of purple, red, pink, salmon, violet, or mixed blooms which attract butterflies.

    Originating from Chile, Mexico, and Argentina, the teardrop-shaped flowers have over 100 varieties available today. They grow up to 13 feet in height and are typically shown off in containers, hanging pots, baskets, or window boxes.

    • Shade: Partial to deep shade
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-11
    • Soil: Moist, well-drained, neutral to acidic
    • Mature Size (Height/Spread): 1-2 ft. tall, with a similar spread, depending on the variety
    • Type: Annual
    • Varieties to Try: Angel Earrings, Caramel Blue, Creeping Fuchsia, Dollar Princess, Galadriel, Shadow Dancers, and Sparky
  6. Coleus


    Free for use – No attribution required (LINK)

    This shade-loving summer annual comes in a never-ending array of exquisite patterns and vivid colors, from pink to deep burgundy to lime green.

    Thanks to its versatility, this tropical can be used as a standalone design element, massed as bedding plants, or combined in containers with flowering annuals. Coleus are perfect for use in your gardens, patios, or even as a houseplant.

    The plant loves shady areas, but some varieties tolerate direct sunlight. Make sure you check the plant tag to be sure. If your desired plant variety requires a certain expertise or can’t find the information online, consider hiring a certified arborist. Oconomowoc tree removal services plants and removes trees throughout the lake country area.

    • Shade: Partial to Full shade
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-11
    • Soil: Rich, moist, loose soil, well-drained, slightly acidic to neutral
    • Mature Size (Height/Spread): 6-36 in. tall and wide
    • Type: Annual
    • Varieties to Try: Kingswood Torch, Black Dragon, Rainbow Mix, Splish Splash · Wasabi, and Campfire.
  7. Coral Bells


    Source: Hans

    Also known as Heuchera, Coral bells come in an endless array of foliage colors, patterns, and forms to match your garden’s palette. The short-lived perennials produce small bell-shaped flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer.

    With over 50 species available, Coral bells are a popular choice for both beginners and experienced gardeners as a companion plant. Thanks to its long lifespan, low-maintenance nature, and low water requirements, it makes a great addition for most landscape designs.

    • Shade: Partial and Full
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–9
    • Soil: Rich, moist but well-drained
    • Mature Size (Height/Spread): 8–18 in. tall, 12–24 in. wide
    • Type: Perennials
    • Varieties to Try: Palace Purple, Marmalade, Lime Rickey, Fire Alarm, Plum Pudding’, and Red Lightning.
  8. Japanese Holly


    Source: David Stang

    With its glossy dark green oval-shaped leaves, Japanese Holly offers structure, color, and background for planting beds in any garden space.

    The slow-growing plant stays green all year and its compact shrub can be trimmed into topiary shapes. Pruning is necessary to remove dead wood and make the shape more aesthetically pleasing.

    • Shade: Full sun to Partial shade
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-8 to
    • Soil: Moist, well-drained, acidic
    • Mature Size (Height/Spread): 3–6 ft. tall, 3–6 ft. wide
    • Type: Evergreen
    • Varieties to Try: Brass Buckle, Golden Gem, Chubby Hubby, Mariesii, Patti O Box, Snowflake, Soft Touch, and Touch of Gold.
  9. Lenten Rose


    Source: Sheila Sund

    Lenten Rose is a variety of hellebore that has delicate-looking flowers which come in various gorgeous colors. The flowers bloom from late winter to early spring, around the Lent period. This is why it’s termed the ‘Lenten Rose.’

    From pure white to black to deep pink, the stunning perennial is available in a profusion of colors, depending on the variety you choose. Plus, it is cold hardy, and prefers loamy, moist, and well-drained soil.

    Lenten Rose contains medicinal properties, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and diuretic effects, for the treatment of various ailments.

    • Shade: Partial to Full shade
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9
    • Soil: Loamy, moist, well-drained, slightly acidic to alkaline
    • Mature Size (Height/Spread): 1-3 ft. tall and wide
    • Type: Perennial
    • Varieties to Try: Wedding Party Maid of Honor, Red Lady, Pink Lady, Winter Queen, Painted Doubles, and Mrs. Betty Ranicar
  10. Virginia Bluebells


    Source: Ryan Hodnett

    Virginia bluebells come with blue, bell-shaped flowers blossom in the early spring, for about three weeks. The delicate plants do not need a lot of maintenance and will bring lovely woodland beauty to your garden when paired with yellow daffodils.

    The wildflower is mostly found in the eastern regions of North America. Its diuretic properties allow it to be suitable for treating skin ailments. In addition, some chefs use the flowers as a garnish or add them to salads.

    • Shade: Full to Partial shade
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-8
    • Soil: Evenly moist, well-drained soil, & neutral
    • Mature Size (Height/Spread): 2 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide
    • Type: Perennial
    • Varieties to Try: Mountain bluebells, Sea bluebells, Alpine bluebells, Aspen bluebells and Short-styled bluebells.
  11. Toad Lily


    Source: Die_Iry

    You can add beauty and a touch of elegance to your shade garden with a Toad Lily (Tricyrtis). This hairy shade perennial is easy to grow and stands out in any space, thanks to its unique flowers that display vibrant purple or white petals.

    With over 20 distinct species, Toad Lily are low-maintenance and a symbol of good fortune. They are often compared to orchids due to their exotic and stunning appearance.

    With its nectar-producing, colorful flowers, Toad Lilies attract a variety of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

    • Shade: Full and Partial shade
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9
    • Soil: Loamy, Moist, well-drained, Acidic to Neutral
    • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide
    • Type: Perennials
    • Varieties to Try: Tojen, White Towers, Blue Wonder & Empress & Gates of Heaven.
  12. Impatiens


    Source: JACLOU-DL

    Loved for its bright colors and continuous bloom from spring to fall, Impatiens are a top choice for any shade garden. The tropical annuals fill large areas fast and are relatively low maintenance.

    Impatiens thrive in warm, humid climates and are mostly found in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They are typically used to supplement the flowers from perennials, while displayed in pots, hanging baskets, window boxes, or landscape beds.

    When shopping for Impatiens plant, ensure you get a variety resistant to the downy mildew disease such as New Guinea impatiens, SunPatiens, or new hybrids not affected by the disease.

    • Shade: Partial to full shade
    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-11
    • Soil: Rich, Well-draining and Acidic
    • Mature Size (Height/Spread): 1 to 3 ft. tall and wide
    • Use: Annual
    • Varieties to Try: New Guinea Impatiens, Rockapulco Series, SunPatiens, & Common Jewelweed.

What flower blooms the longest in shade?

Yellow Fumitory (Corydalis Lutea) is the longest-blooming flower in the shade. Also called fumewort, the shade perennial grows best in part shade but can cope in full shade. It grows in mounds and can reach up to 15 inches in height. From spring all the way to fall, you can enjoy its clusters of beautiful yellow flowers and attractive gray-green leaves in your shade garden space.

This entry was posted on June 23, 2024.

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National Plant a Flower Day

With the onset of the spring season starts the planning and preparation for the National Plant a Flower Day. This year too, this much awaited day was celebrated on March 12th all across the United States. Daffodils and Marigolds are the main flowers planted by thousands of flower lovers on this particular day that marks the celebration of the spring season. Although, the founder of this beautiful day is still unknown, yet every other house is seen with people trying to plant a flower on the National Plant a Flower Day. What makes this day even more special is the fact that it inculcates the habit of gardening in our future generation that in turn is a way of making the world a better place to live in. Continue reading

This entry was posted on August 11, 2018.