Most of us know which flowers like sun, but there are many plants that thrive in shade. They’re low-maintenance, require less water and are easy to grow in containers.
Some plants are known for their bold foliage–such as fern fronds and the lily pad-like leaves of ligularia plants–that bring color and interest to shady garden beds.
If you’re looking for a hosta to add some color to your shady garden, this perennial is a great choice. You can find small varieties that look great in a mixed container or massed at the edge of a tree canopy or in an island bed.
Many hostas prefer partial shade or dappled sunlight but will also grow in full sun once they’re established. However, they tend to burn up if they receive more than 6 hours of direct sun each day.
Blue hostas, for example, can change color and fade if they are exposed to too much direct sun. When they appear brown or scorched at the edges or tips, move them to a shadier spot with more moisture.
Azaleas prefer dappled light from overhead trees that move in the wind, similar to their natural woodland habitat. Full sun can burn the leaves and cause roots to suffer from drought.
In cooler climates, azaleas can get less shade than in hotter areas, as long as they receive adequate rain and are protected from wind and frost. However, if you live in an area with a lot of cloud cover or if your azaleas get a fair amount of winter sunlight, you may have to provide them with supplemental light or find another location that can give them more dappled light.
Azaleas thrive in moist, rich soils high in Nitrogen and nutrients. They also like acidic soils with a pH between 4.5 and 6.0, though this can be hard to achieve in many areas of the country.
If you like colorful foliage, you’ll love caladiums. The heart-shaped leaves of these tropical beauties come in shades of white, pink and red. Some varieties have fancy ruffled edges.
These heat-loving plants provide year-round color in the garden or in containers. They’re easy to care for, especially once they know you love them.
Caladiums grow best in partially shaded or shady areas where they get at least two to four hours of direct sun each day. Alternatively, a little morning or afternoon sun may be tolerated by some caladiums.
Lily of the Valley
In the wild, lily of the valley grows beneath trees that cast dappled shade. In the garden, you can recreate this effect by planting it in a spot that will offer some protection from the sun.
Lily of the Valley likes well-drained soil that remains moist but never soggy. It also loves rich soil enriched with organic matter.
Lily of the Valley spreads by rhizomes that travel just below the soil surface. Where the rhizomes take root, small conical offshoots called pips form that sprout leaf-bearing stems and racemes of petite, scalloped-edged bells.
Toad Lily (Tricyrtis) is a great choice for the shade garden. These clump-forming perennials are easy to grow and deer resistant.
They bloom in a range of colours and are an attractive feature in shady borders, along walkways or under trees. They add a splash of colour when planted with other foliage plants such as hosta, ferns and sedums.
These plants thrive in moist, part- to full-shade conditions. They do best in organically rich soils and will benefit from a layer of mulch to help reduce water evaporation. They can also be divided and propagated by stem cuttings in early spring.