Gardening in the shade has the reputation of being difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. By choosing the right shade-loving plants, it’s possible to have a beautiful landscape even in limited light. Some of the most popular garden plants are reliable standbys for a reason: with the right location and care, they provide season-long enjoyment even for novice gardeners.
Here are some of the best shade plants :
1. CALADIUM :
For an exotic feel in the garden, few plants rival the bold impact of angel wings (Caladium). Made popular as a Victorian conservatory plant, this tropical annual is grown for its arrow-shaped leaves in hues from pure white to multi-colored variegation. It’s most valuable for adding vibrant color to the darkest corners of your yard where bright colors can be scarce. Caladium can be grown from tubers or purchased as plants. Since they require a lot of heat to grow, they will do best when obtained as plants for those in cooler climates or without a heat source such as a greenhouse or heating mat. Grow as a bedding plant or in containers and combine with impatiens, begonias, and fuchsias.
2. BALADIUM :
With colorful, showy flowers and a variety of plant forms — including upright, mounding and cascading varieties — shade-loving begonias can find a home in a variety of garden settings, from beds to window boxes. Begonias range from tender tuberous varieties (growing in zones 9 to 11) to hardy begonia (Begonia grandis), shown here, that are winter-hardy in colder regions (zones 6 to 7). Begonia hybrids feature a range of jewel-like flower hues, from yellow to apricot, bright pink, rose and ruby red.
3. SWEET POTATO VINE :
If you’re looking for a vining annual that works equally well in sun and shade, sweet potato vine is the answer. This pretty plant comes in shades of purple, burgundy, and chartreuse and looks fabulous when spilling over the sides of containers and window boxes.
4. HYDRANGEA :
Hydrangea is one of the most revered garden plants, an old-fashioned favorite that blooms in summer and fall. This deciduous shrub comes in a wide range of species and forms, from the most popular mopheads (H. macrophylla) to hardy peegees (H. paniculata). Most prefer regular water and rich amended soil, though oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) is drought-tolerant in some areas once established. Flowers are blue, white, purple, pink or red, with some having variable color according to soil pH. Plant in a mixed border, as a stand-alone accent, or as screening along a property border. Smaller specimens can be planted in containers. Hydrangeas do prefer more bright shade than deep shade.
5. WITCH HAZEL :
In the dead of winter when there is little life in the garden, the delicate ribbon-like flowers of witch hazel (Hamamelis) cheer up even the dreariest days. The graceful vase-shaped structure is just a bonus, with some varieties having additional attributes of fall color or fragrance. This deciduous tree or shrub needs virtually no care once established, with most suitable for small spaces. Grow as a stand-alone focal point, along a property border, or near your home’s entrance or sidewalk where the fragrance can be enjoyed up close. Smaller specimens can be grown in containers. Combine with other plants with winter interest such as hellebores, snowdrops, and heathers.
6. FOAMFLOWER :
Foamflower (Tiarella), a classic woodland plant indigenous to North America, makes a welcome addition to any native garden. The delicate habit of this dainty semi-evergreen perennial belies its toughness and reliability. Grown for its frothy flowers that bloom over an exceptionally long time, the heart-shaped, lobed leaves in various patterns provide color year-round in milder regions. Foamflower tolerates deep shade, but performs best with dappled light that simulates their native woodland habitat. Plant in containers, rock gardens, or massed as a groundcover. Combine with other spring bloomers such as violets, Siberian bugloss (Brunnera), creeping phlox, and bleeding heart.
7. VIOLA :
These happy-faced flowers tolerate full sun in spring and fall, but come summer, they’ll need part shade. They often die back in hot weather and revive when things cool down. They’re annuals but some types self-seed and may appear again next spring.
8. BALLOON FLOWERS :
A member of the bellflower family, balloon flowers are perennial, herbaceous plants native to the Far East and Russia. These plants grow to be 2-3 feet tall and prefer full sun but will tolerate some shade. Hardy in USDA zones three through eight, they make a great addition to gardens across the country.
The leaves of balloon flowers are a deep green, and the flowers bloom in a variety of colors, including pink, purple, white, and blue. They get their name from the fact that the unopened buds resemble balloons. The flowers appear in summer and fall.
9. BEAR’S BREECHES :
Bear’s breeches are interesting plants with bracts that attract attention more than the flowers. These plants are native to the Mediterranean and grow to be 3-4 feet. They prefer full sun but will tolerate some shade.
10. COLEUS :
Coleus is a perennial, herbaceous plant that originates from Southeast Asia. Coleus plants grow to be anywhere from 6-36 inches tall (depending on the variety) and prefer shady conditions with some afternoon sun. They are not frost-tolerant and will not survive in USDA zones below ten.
The leaves of coleus are a mix of green and burgundy, and the beautiful flowers bloom in shades of blue and purple. They appear in summer and fall.
The plants are easy to grow and make a great addition to any garden. They are also popular as houseplants.