It’s that time! Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. I think it’s safe to finally start thinking about your outdoor spaces and planting! But what do you plant if you’ve got shady areas in the yard? Here are some amazing ideas for the best plants that grow in shade to add some variety to your yard.
The Best Plants that Grow in Shade
It seems it’s pretty easy to find some sun-loving plants, but shade can be a bit trickier. No fear – I’ve got 10 shade-loving plants with a mixture of annuals and perennials that’ll add some gorgeous color to your gardens.
These are perennials (which means they will keep coming back year after year – win-win for the budget!). They thrive in shade and also come in several varieties. Once they are established, you can split them in early spring or early fall to double your plants! And for all the details on varieties, how to plant, and how to care for Hostas, Farmer’s Almanac has you covered!
And no, that’s not a typo. I thought for years it was actually “impatients”, but nope. However you say or spell it, these are some of my faves to plant every spring. They’re annuals so you’ll have to replant each year, but they’re worth it. And they are super inexpensive from any home and garden store. They come in a huge variety of colors ranging from white to orange to bright pink and purple.
They grow fast and you’ll have blooms all summer. This article from BHG gives you all the details on the different varieties and what you need to know to grow them. I’ve planted them every year and I’m admittedly not the best gardener and these do well even with neglect! Just water them and they’ll be your friends.
Probably you’ve seen these beautiful flowers all over (many people call them snowball bushes). They are commonly found in blue or white but also come in many other varieties. We have two different varieties that were all started from tiny seedlings in a plastic cup. The plant that has grown the most and has blooms as big as my head spends most of its time in the shade. The ones that get the most sun can’t handle it as well.
These are stunning and again, perennials and blooms all summer. You can even cut them back almost to the ground and they will come back year after year. The pic below is the one that we planted from a tiny cup about 3 years ago. It does live by the ac unit so it gets continuous water. This Old House has some great tips for growing these beauties!
These are perfect for those areas that only get a few morning rays of sun. Keep them watered (but not soggy) and you’ll have another perennial plant that will come back year after year. Varieties of pink, white, and purple flowers will add some gorgeous color to your shady yard. BHG gives you all the info you need to know about this beautiful perennial.
I have a love-hate relationship with these. I love the flowers but don’t love the foliage. Is that weird? Probably so. But, if you want another annual flower that loves the shade, this is it! There are varying colors of the flowers from white, red, purple and pink. And I’ve planted them several times just straight from the home and garden store with no special care and they’ve done well in shade. More details from Gardening Know How here!
Easy care (especially if you live in a warm climate), Caladiums have bright, big, showy leaves and they thrive in shade. These are a good choice for inexperienced gardeners (or black thumb peeps like me). If you start them when the soil is warm, you’ll have a perfect shade plant year after year. For more info on this easy perennial, check out Classic Caladiums for all the details.
These are part shade perennials that can thrive in warmer climates year after year. I’ve never actually grown these so I don’t have any personal experience, but it appears that you can buy seed packets of varying colors and have a brilliant display of color in your garden for years! On my to do list for sure! You can grow them from seed or purchase plants from a garden center.
And one other plus about these is they are deer resistant. Nothing worse than walking outside to discover the deer feasted on all your gorgeous flowers all night. Check out this article for more info!
If you’ve ever been hiking through the woods or in a shady park, no doubt you’ve seen ferns hanging around. There are tons of varieties of ferns that will love your shady areas in the yard! Holly ferns are one variety in particular that love full shade but will also thrive in partial sun. It can tolerate some cold temps and will be evergreen throughout the year. More details on this staple of a shade garden here.
With 3 gorgeous white petals, white trillium is an excellent shade-loving perennial. Best to get these from a nursery as they require a little care and several years to get them going. However, once you have them, they will provide you with years of flowers.
Beware that deer like these for a snack though, so you may want to consider an area that’s fenced. An excellent article from The Spruce can give you all the details on these beautiful flowers.
Gardenias are one of my absolute faves. It almost didn’t make the list because it does need some sun in the morning so it’s not technically a full shade loving plant. But it’s just too beautiful not to include. The smell is amazing and they are very hardy once established. We’ve grown dwarf gardenias in several locations and they seem to prefer morning sun and afternoon shade. In my experience (we live in the south), the one we planted in afternoon sun didn’t like it there at all. The other gets a few hours of morning sun and is thriving with little to no care.
We also have a gardenia that is not a dwarf variety in the same area and it also loves the morning sun/afternoon shade combo. They both produce a plethora of sweet smelling blooms. Plant these next to a walkway (but give them room because they definitely grow) and you’ll get to enjoy that sweet smell every time you walk by! Get more gardenia info here.
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