Gorgeous plants that grow in shade! Even if you don’t have full sun in all areas, never fear. You’ve got lots of choices to add to those shady spots for beautiful colors all summer! 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!
What you need to know about Hostas
- Full to partial shade
- Resistant to disease
- Ideal for zones 3-9 (check your planting zone here)
- Most grow between 12-48″ wide and 18-48″ high
- Disease resistant
- Can be split once established to give you even more plants
- Hostas come in varying shades of yellow and green
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. 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.
Quick Facts about Impatiens
- Fast growing
- No need to deadhead the blooms (they are self cleaners)
- Good for all planting zones
- Minimal care needed – keep them watered and they’ll thrive
- Large color variety to choose from
- Continuous flowers from spring through fall
- Resistant to disease
You’ve likely seen these beautiful flowers all over. They are commonly found in blue or white but also come in many other varieties, including pink and purple.
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, perennial and bloom all summer. You can even cut them back almost to the ground and they will come back year after year. The pic below is a Vanilla Strawberry variety we planted from a tiny cup about 3 years ago. It does live by the ac unit so it gets continuous water.
- Perennial (they aren’t evergreen though)
- Prefer morning sun and afternoon shade
- Blooms continuously through the fall
- Certain blue and pink varieties can be altered to change the color of the blooms (after the plant is established for a few years, you can add aluminum sulfate for blue blooms and lime for pink blooms). White blooms are not affected.
- Zoned for 6-9
- Hydrangeas make perfect cutting flowers – they bloom abundantly, so there’s plenty to snip and bring inside for free summer decor
- Give them room – they spread up to 10 feet or more and over 8 feet tall
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.
Facts about Astilbe
- Zones 3-8
- Large feathery blooms in shades of white, pink, red, and purple
- Perfect shade plant companion for Hostas
- Needs well drained, fertilized soil for ideal growth
- Wide varieties from compact (12″) to over 5 feet
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.
- Shade-loving annuals
- Good for all zones
- Smaller sized plants ideal for borders, these get 8-12″ wide and 8-12″ high
- Keep them watered good – not drought tolerant, especially in temps over 90 degrees
- Also grow well in containers
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.
They have vibrant hues of pink, green, white and mixed varieties. And for all you hot climate living gardeners, these are perfect for you!
- Ideal for hot weather climates (perennials in zones 9 or higher)
- Prefers shade and humidity
- Does not like soggy soil
- Can be grown as houseplants
- Prefers and thrives in soil temps over 70 degrees
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.
- Zones 4-9
- Doesn’t grow large, so ideal for borders – they grow about 4-18 inches wide and 6-12 inches high
- They can thrive in the heat as long as you keep them watered
- Primrose do best in soil that is enriched with organic matter
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. If you’ve ever seen a big front porch in the South, you’ve probably seen hanging baskets of ferns! These are very popular for their showy green color.
- Prefers shade/filtered sunlight
- There are several thousand varieties of ferns and can be annuals or perennials depending on your zone
- Must be kept watered and ferns like organic soil
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.
- Not deer resistant
- Zones 4-9
- Bloom time between February and June
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. And the smell is heavenly!
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 the 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!
- Evergreen and perennial
- Blooms are white and extremely scented
- Zones 8-11
- Loves warm temps and humidity
- Easy care once established
- Grows best in well-drained acidic soil
Plant some of these amazing plants that grow in shade this year and enjoy them for years!
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