There are plenty of gorgeous, colorful plants to choose from that thrive in shade gardens. Most of them are old-hardy and need little maintenance once they’re planted properly.
Hostas, ferns and astilbe may come to mind first, but there are a variety of other beautiful plants that seek shady spots. Read on for a list of perennials, flowering shrubs, annuals, bulbs and flowering vines that will have you eager to plant up your shade garden!
Hostas are one of the most popular perennial plants in the garden. They are known for their colorful foliage that is ideal for border plantings and mass plantings alike.
Most hostas like some shade, though some are able to take full sun in warmer areas of the country. However, too much direct sun will burn leaves starting from the edges inward.
Blue-leaf hostas are particularly susceptible to this problem, as they have a waxy coating on their leaves that melts under hot sun and exposes the green leaf underneath.
This makes these types of hostas a bit more difficult to keep well-watered in the summer. Be sure to give them supplemental water during extreme heatwaves and avoid dry conditions.
Azaleas add structure and bright color to any garden, but they do best with a spot that gets dappled shade. They also make a great container plant, particularly if you live in a cooler climate.
In hotter areas, full sun can burn the leaves of azaleas and leave them more prone to disease problems. This is especially true of evergreen azaleas that have delicate leaves and blooms.
The right balance between full sun and partial shade is best for azaleas to produce blooms while also not damaging the leaves or roots. If you plant them in full sun, be sure to water regularly.
Ferns are a quintessential shade-loving plant that can fill up large shady areas or be planted among other plants in flowing designs inside a natural garden. They pair nicely with azaleas and hostas for an eye-catching effect, as Alan McMillan, a native plants expert from the Natural Garden Center in Rochester, New York, notes.
Most ferns prefer dappled shade, especially in woodland settings, but some thrive under full sun as long as they have plenty of water and moisture. They appreciate a rich soil containing lots of humus, rotted leaves and other organic matter.
Many ferns do not produce seeds, so they spread via spores. Some ferns spread by creeping rhizomes, while others grow into clumps.
Caladiums like the cool morning or early afternoon shade of dappled sunlight. This makes them a great choice for shady areas of your yard and garden, but they’re also excellent in container gardens.
They’re also a favorite for adding instant color to window boxes and patios. Several varieties of sun-tolerant caladiums are now available, which make it easier than ever to plant these plants throughout your landscape.
For best results, keep them watered regularly and never let the soil dry out completely. Caladiums will thrive with a potting mix that’s rich and well-drained but not too wet.
Tricyrtis hirta is a shade-loving perennial in the lily family. It’s a favorite for a variety of gardeners because of its unique and beautiful flowers, which add an exotic touch to your garden in late summer and early fall.
Toad lilies (Tricyrtis) are hardy, adaptable perennials native to much of Asia from the Himalayas in the north to the mountains of Taiwan and Japan in the south. They are usually found growing naturally on the edges of shady forests.
They are easy to grow and are a popular choice for landscaping in shady areas. They thrive in moist soil that is rich in nutrients and slightly acidic. They also like a light mulch of peat or compost to keep the soil moist.