Talk about having it made! If you want to create a serene and colorful garden full of plants, but the available outdoor space is mostly in shady spots, then fear not. Plenty of gorgeous plants love those partially shaded spots, so the lack of sunlight won’t limit your palette. You have many options, from annuals to perennials to even a few shrubs.

Even if you don’t have any gardens in your yard, you can still bring plenty of life and color to your outdoor space with containers, hanging baskets, or window boxes overflowing with shade-loving plants.

Before you start planting in your shaded spots, though, make sure you spend some time observing throughout the day which areas receive what kind of light – this will help guide the choice of plants so that they’ll thrive in their new environment.

Here are The 10 Best Plants for Shade Gardens

1. Lobelia

Lobelia is a delicate, beautiful, and very popular flowering plant. It loves cool weather and cascading out of planters or window boxes. This annual flower can only survive in shaded areas without direct sunlight.

When temperatures become too high or nighttime temperatures exceed 70 degrees, the Lobelia can become shaggy and need trimming.

Still, they should rebound again as soon as cooler weather arrives again. The shade-loving Lobelia adds colorful luster and texture to every garden; its bright blooms come in shades of purple, pink, blue, and white that last through the spring season into summer, making it an ideal addition to any outdoor space.

2. Foxglove

A stunning biennial, foxgloves are an excellent choice for adding height to a shady border or container garden. Its tall flower stalks can reach heights of 4-6 feet and come in shades of purple, pink, and white.

Foxgloves love the shade and thrive in partially shaded areas with plenty of filtered sun. They bloom from spring through summer, and the blooms attract hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden.

Other great options for your shade garden include impatiens, fuchsias, and hostas. Impatiens come in various colors and sizes and thrive in shady spots. They add beautiful pops of color to any garden.

Fuchsias are also excellent choices for shading areas, with their delicate petals cascading down from 1-3 feet-tall plants. Hostas provide lush foliage and beautiful blooms in summer, and they love shady areas. All these low-maintenance plants bring life and color to your outdoor space.

3. Hosta

Hostas are one of the most popular shade-loving plants around. These perennial plants come in various sizes, shapes, and color variations. The beautiful foliage comes in shades of green, yellow, and even blue-green, with different leaf shapes ranging from large and broad to very narrow. Hostas also produce lavender, white, and purple flowers that stand out in the shade.

Another great option for your shade garden is ferns. These low-maintenance plants are hardy and come in many varieties with different sizes and frond shapes.

They also have the added benefit of providing texture to a garden space that doesn’t get a lot of sun. Ferns can be used as ground cover or grouped together for a lush look.

4. Caladium

Caladiums are a favorite for lining walkways or borders thanks to their attractive foliage in various sizes and colors. These tropical plants thrive in partial or full shade and give your garden texture, color, and interest even in the dimmest of spots.

Caladiums are low-maintenance and often pest-resistant, making them a great choice for gardens that don’t get a lot of sun.

Hostas are another ideal choice for shady gardens because they’re easy to care for and can tolerate sun and shade.

This classic perennial comes in various sizes, shapes, and colors, so you can find one to fit almost any garden. Hostas enjoy rich, moist soil and will add texture, color, and interest to your garden all season long.

5. Heuchera

Heucheras, also known as coral bells, are evergreen perennials that add color to any garden. They come in various sizes and colors, from deep purple to chartreuse green. Heucheras thrive in the shade and look great when grouped together or mixed with other shade-loving plants. They’re also low-maintenance, pest-resistant, and deer-resistant.

Hostas are another great choice for shade gardens. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, from classic green to blue-green or even yellow.

Hostas can be planted singly or grouped together to form a lush carpet of foliage. They’re also very low-maintenance and can handle both sun and shade.

6. Lenten Rose

Lenten Rose is a beloved perennial that brings beauty and life to the winter garden. This wonderful plant typically blooms between late winter and early spring, offering an array of stunning colors, including white, pink, yellow, cream, purple, red, and green.

The hardiness of Lenten Rose is legendary; they are some of the first plants to bloom and can often be seen with snow still on the ground.

When feeding the eyes with its kaleidoscope of delightful colors in early spring at a time when other plants dare not venture out of their dormant states, it’s no surprise that these captivating flowers were given their catchy name.

The vibrant petals will continue to dance beneath an April sky for many weeks adding buckets full of charm to those graceful gardens lucky enough to have them take center stage.

Throughout the year, their majestic evergreen foliage will add further harmonious balance and structure, but it’s undoubtedly during those frosty months each year when this species truly excels.

7. Japanese Forest Grass

Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) is ideal for a shady garden. This ornamental grass is native to Japan and grows in clumps that can reach up to two feet tall and wide. Its thin, arching blades of foliage create a graceful effect in any garden setting.

The foliage is typically bright green in the summer months and turns shades of yellow and orange in the fall. Japanese forest grass is low-maintenance and thrives in both sun and shade.

8. Heucherella

Heucherella is a hybrid between heuchera and tiarella, two shade-loving plants. This hybrid plant is prized for its unique foliage that can come in various colors, shapes, and sizes.

Heuchera leaves are often lobed or ruffled, adding texture and interest to any garden. In addition to its attractive foliage, heuchera produces clusters of small white flowers in the late spring and early summer. This plant is low-maintenance and thrives in partial to full shade.

Ferns are a classic choice for shady gardens, offering lush foliage and graceful structure. The various types of ferns come in various shapes and sizes, from the larger ostrich fern to the delicate maidenhair fern.

Many species of ferns thrive in partial or full shade and require little maintenance. They also make great companion plants for other shade-loving plants such as hostas and heucheras.

9. Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts are an incredibly unique and captivating flower known for its head-turning shape. The scientific name of this flower is dicentra spectabilis and it has a burgundy heart in the center surrounded by drooping white petals hanging off each side.

It also produces tall, gracefully curved stems that tower up to three feet high. When well taken care of, Bleeding Hearts can bloom beautifully during the late spring and early summer months, putting on a stunning show in any garden they inhabit.

Although these flowers are quite beautiful, they require special attention to stay healthy. For example, they should be planted in a shaded or partially shaded area since too much direct sunlight can burn them.

They do best when planted around plants that need little water, such as Hostas or Astilbes so that they will receive the halo of protection from moisture loss surrounding them.

10. Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder is an interesting and beautiful perennial flower known for its appealing ladder-like foliage pattern. Native to North America and Eurasia, these plants can thrive in various soils and conditions and easily grow.

They will reach heights between 30-90cm, with upright trunks stemming from a tufted base. The delicate foliage of the Jacob’s Ladder consists of finely divided leaflets that gracefully form lacy fronds known as ‘ladders’. It also produces tiny translucent flowers that grow atop the stem in various colors, from white to purple.

Jacob’s Ladders prefers moist soil when caring for these plants but can tolerate drier soil if needed. Additionally, Jacob’s Ladders can be grown in either full sun or partial shade, depending on the desired look of the plant.

However, when grown in partial or full shade, the foliage will look darker and more intense than in direct sunlight. With ample drainage, light moisture/watering, and plenty of fertilizer, this attractive flower will brighten any garden bed.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. Can Any Plants Survive In Deep Shade?

Yes, some plants can survive in deep shade. However, they may not thrive as well as plants that receive some sunlight. Plants that can survive in deep shade include ferns, moss, and certain types of ivy.

2. How Do You Care For Shade-Loving Plants?

Shade-loving plants typically require less watering than those that receive more sun. Ensure that the soil is consistently moist but not waterlogged.

Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can cause the plants to grow too quickly and become weak. Trim back any dead or damaged foliage regularly to encourage new growth.

3. Can You Plant Vegetables In A Shade Garden?

While most vegetables require full sun, some can be grown in partial shade. These include lettuce, spinach, kale, and radishes. However, they may not produce as much as in full sun.

4. How Do You Create A Shade Garden?

To create a shade garden, choose the right plants for the shade in your yard. Consider adding hardscaping features such as benches, paths, or water features to make the space more inviting.

Use mulch or ground cover plants to keep the soil moist and cool. Finally, maintain your shade garden by regularly pruning and weeding to keep it looking its best.

5. What Is Best To Grow In The Shade?

If your garden has a partially shaded area, consider growing beetroot, baby carrots, chard, kale, kohl rabi, leaf salads, lettuce, peas, runner beans, and spinach. These plants can tolerate limited sunlight.

To ensure a strong start with well-established roots, try sowing seeds in modules under bright conditions and transplanting them later.


There are many plants that can thrive in the shade garden. To ensure the health of your shade-loving plants, ensure adequate moisture, fertilizing, and pruning. Additionally, consider adding hardscaping features such as benches and paths to make your space more inviting. With the right care, you’ll have a flourishing and beautiful shade garden in no time.

About the Author

Virginia E. Hayes is a gardening enthusiast who loves to write about gardening tools, safety issues, and ways to keep gardens clean and safe. With her vast experience in gardening, she provides valuable insights and tips to help fellow gardening enthusiasts to enhance their gardening experience. Her passion for gardening and writing has made her a sought-after author in the gardening community.

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