The only plants that may be successfully grown in the shadow are hostas and ferns, a source of frustration for many gardeners. Not true! Here is a list of 10 gorgeous shade plants that I have grown in my own garden and a list of shade-loving perennial and annual shade flowers.
When We think of shade gardens, we picture plants like hostas, ferns, and maybe even some astilbe. Yet, many stunning, exotic, and colorful plants seek shaded nooks and crannies. After they have been appropriately planted, most are long-lasting and need minimal care once established.
1. Heuchera (Coral Bells)
My shady garden is vibrant and requires little maintenance. I began with heuchera, more often referred to as Coral Bells. Its foliage color is its greatest asset, and it may range from the washed amber of the ‘Ginger Ale variety to the glossy black-red of the ‘Black Beauty variety.
You don’t need flowers if you add interesting ones like ‘Midnight Rose’ with its fiery pink-spattered black foliage or ‘Peach Flambe’ with its brilliant orange coloration.
They maintain the same hue and appearance throughout the year. They cannot be damaged by slugs, and deer will not eat near them. In addition to that, the dainty blooms that develop in the middle of spring attract hummingbirds.
By the middle of the summer, they have become brown and must be removed along with the old leaves. When the flowers are at their most potential, cut a few flower stalks and three or four leaves to make a short bouquet with a high effect.
Planting and caring for Coral Bells is a simple process. All that is required of me is to amend the soil with a substantial quantity of humus and to mulch heavily with wood chips. They are unfazed by the -27 degrees Fahrenheit that the winter brings.
We also discovered many other plants that were as hardy and brightened up the north and northeast boundaries of my property, which is next to my home.
Deer and snails will avoid them because of their unpleasant odor. We will describe those growing in my garden and explain why we adore them.
2. Black Bugbane (also called Black Cohosh and Black Baneberry)
The foliage is stunning and keeps its dark purple, nearly black hue throughout the season. Later, in the late summer, tall, white fuzzy blossoms develop above the leaves, lending architectural elegance to the plant.
For added depth and complexity, create “shadows” between other plants with the help of plants with dark-colored leaves.
Late in the winter, the first buds open while there is still snow on the ground. Even in July, some plants still have flowers on them. Yet after a time, they become tattered and discolored.
After the Fourth of July, pick up any spent flowers or leaves on them or the heuchera.
4. Bleeding Heart
Who doesn’t adore the plants covered in arched sprays of tiny pink hearts at the beginning of spring? The blooms will continue to bloom for many weeks if the temperature remains cold.
Early in the summer, the delicate foliage of lace plants dies back, making room for later flowering plants such as bugbane and Thalictrum. Learn how to cultivate a bleeding heart here.
5. Grasses of the genera Hakonechloa and Carex
The shade garden is mostly composed of large, wide leaves; nevertheless, adding these brightly colored grasses brings a new dimension of texture to the space. In a shaded or wooded landscape, Hakonechloa may be used to create a visually pleasing bright area.
6. Thalictrum (Meadow Rue)
The Thalictrum gives further floral appeal when the blooming cycles of the Bleeding Heart and the other primroses in my shadow garden have ended.
I like the Black-stemmed Thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’ since it begins to develop and send up long stalks between five and six feet in height at about the time when Bleeding Heart is beginning its winter rest.
Put them close to one another so that the new growth of the Thalictrum may cover the wilting leaves of the bleeding heart. Puffy pink flowers remain for weeks.
My favorites are the Japanese-painted fern known as ‘Silver Falls’ and ‘Dre’s Dagger.’ Ostrich ferns are also wonderful, but you should know that they may get very large and spread quickly.
They are ideal for making a fern valley, which I have in a section of my shadow garden. Check out the “Lady in Red” variety of ferns, characterized by its stunning brilliant red stems and delicate lacy fronds, if you want to purchase colorful ferns.
You may also look into the autumn fern Brilliance, a coppery pink hue in the spring, changes to a green tint in the summer, and then colors up again in the fall.
8. The Signet of Solomon
Polygonatum odoratum is a perennial plant that likes to grow in shady areas. It has stems that are low and arch elegantly and has leaves that are light green with a white margin.
In the spring, the stem is adorned with delicate white bell blooms. It is resistant to diseases and insects, does not attract deer, and thrives in environments with plenty of trees.
A time-honored favorite, perennial dianthus (also known as “pinks”), is unnoticed by deer and, because of the nectar they produce, attracts pollinating insects, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
There are many, many different types of dianthuses, such as Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus), cheddar pinks (Dianthus grataniapolitensis), Chinese pinks (Dianthus chinensis), alpine pinks (Dianthus alpinus), garden pinks (Dianthus alpinus).
Garden pinks are the dianthus type most commonly found in gardens (Dianthus plumaris).
Astilbe is a perennial plant that produces large, colorful blooms that sit atop glossy foliage resembling ferns. A plant resistant to damage from deer, astilbe comes in various hues and looks its best when planted in clusters (versus alone).
In addition, they provide intriguing textural contrasts as the seasons change.
Plants That Do Well In Partial Shade
The first step in choosing appropriate shade plants is identifying the sort of shadow you have. Shade levels vary greatly. The degree of darkness varies with the nature of the object obscuring the light.
For example, the amount of available light directly under a single deciduous tree is often higher in the spring than in the middle of summer. In contrast, evergreen trees like spruce maintain their density throughout the year, allowing for less scattered sunlight.
Is there a building that casts a shadow?
Complete shadow presents its own challenge, the severity of which may shift depending on the season, latitude, and the orientation of the building for the sun. The sun’s temperature and strength vary throughout the day; the early sun is milder and gentler than the afternoon sun.
Another possible problem area is soil fertility, which may be an issue around trees and buildings. The dirt around a structure may not be natural, nutrient-rich loam but a filler.
Planting anything near a tree is not a great idea since the soil is usually shallow and full of roots. In addition to this difficulty, new seedlings would have to compete with an already-developed root system designed to extract nutrients and water from the soil.
Considering the tree’s specific requirements, the soil needs to be changed.
After the site has been scouted, plant-environment compatibility work may commence. The seeds or plants often include information on how much light a plant needs.
When discussing a plant needing “full sun,” we imply it should get at least six hours of sunlight daily. If a plant requires just a little or no direct sunlight, it is said to need “part sun” or “part shade,” whereas “full shadow” denotes that it requires no sunlight at all.
Vegetables are among the many plants that do well in shady conditions. Although it’s impossible to develop a large tomato harvest in complete darkness, certain greens may thrive in such conditions, albeit much slower than they would in the presence of even some sunlight.
Both spinach and arugula bolt quickly in hot sunlight, so keep them in the shade if possible. Kale, chard, and leaf lettuces all thrive in dappled light. Baby greens may be made from the leaves of almost any plant.
Spinach can grow in partial shade.
The use of reflecting mulch is one technique that may be useful while growing veggies. Silver or aluminum mulch may prevent insects from destroying your landscaping by reflecting light. As a bonus, it bounces light back up to the plants, giving them more of it.
It takes just a few hours of sunlight every day for certain root vegetables to mature, such as beets, radishes, carrots, and potatoes. Bush varieties of peas, beans, and other legumes may tolerate partial shade throughout the day.
It’s important to remember that the slower the development and production of the crop, the more shade it needs to grow.
Flowers That Can Take the Shade
Various types of flowers may be used to spruce up a dark area. Shade plants might sometimes be understated, yet many are vibrant and eye-catching. Annuals are a smart bet if you want to know what kinds of plants will thrive in the shadow. B
right reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, and purples may be found in wax begonias, fuchsias, lobelias, impatiens, pansies, and coleus. Most species struggle in direct sunlight and thrive in the cooler temperatures provided by the shadow.
The blue blossoms of the perennial lobelia may survive in low light conditions. Shaded spaces may also be revitalized using perennials.
The leaves of hostas, a common plant in shade gardens, come in various hues and patterns, including solid shades of white, yellow-green, lime-green, and beyond, and spotted and striped variations. Feathered red, pink, peach, lavender and white flowers may be seen on astilbe plants.
Acceptable in low light, the flower plumes of astilbe may be any shade from red to pink to peach to lavender.
Along with the violet, lady’s mantle, trillium, and monkshood, the time-honored favorite Astilbe Bleeding Heart is also a dependable shade perennial.
Especially near deciduous trees, which provide sunlight through their bare winter branches and shade from the sun’s harsher summer rays once they leaf out, bulbs are frequently dependable performers in shaded situations.
If the soil is rich and drains well, a wide variety of spring bulbs—including snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, narcissus, fritillaries, grape hyacinths, and scilla—will spread independently.
Shrubs, which do well in the shadow, are another option for enhancing a garden’s visual appeal and structural integrity. Popular colors for azaleas include orange, pink, purple, yellow, red, and white, making them excellent shade plants.
Even rhododendrons need some shade to thrive. Dogwood, daphne, hydrangea, and viburnum may grow in partial shade.
Enkianthus, with its bell-shaped blooms in late spring and a spectacular splash of orange and bronze in the fall when its leaves change, brings color to a mainly shaded setting after other plants have faded.
Even though Enkianthus Shrub Shade gardens have certain needs, they provide the ideal setting for the gardener to try various strategies to see what yields the greatest results.
Depending on the type, the height of an astilbe may range anywhere from 6 inches to 5 feet, while the size of its flower clusters can be anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet.
Astilbes are a terrific way to bring color and texture to a region where other flowers won’t grow, so planting some astilbes is a good idea if you have a shaded space.