Hostas, plants that like a shade garden.

Plants That Like A Shade Garden


We all have a shady corner or aspect in our gardens and whether you are looking for plants for a whole garden that has a North facing aspect or for planting under trees and hedges in a small shady area, then these plants that like a shade garden are definitely worth considering.

From perennial plants for shade to a few container plants to brighten up a shaded porch area, I’ve got it covered in this article.

Damp shade, dry shade or partial shade areas pose no problems if you choose the right plants. Partial shade can be anything from dappled light, under trees for example, to some sunlight after mid day. Wherever your gardens dark, shady spots are there is a plethora of options for you to consider.

I have chosen plants in the following categories to help you choose ones that best fit your situation:

  • Shrubs for Shade
  • Perennial Plants for Shade
  • Bulbs for Shade
  • Roses for Shade
  • Vegetables and Fruit

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Plants That Like A Shade Garden

Every garden has a dark corner that needs something to brighten it up, and here I will give you options for plants that tolerate these different conditions such as low light levels, damp or very dry soils.

There are ways of improving a shaded area, for example, if the shade is cast by a tree then prune some of the lower branches to raise the tree canopy, this allows more sunlight to reach under the tree. Bulbs and low growing foliage plants that will flourish and flower early in the year before the tree greens up can then be used underneath.


Pro Tip

If you are going to use hard landscaping materials in a shaded area then choose a lighter palette for stones, paving and gravel. The light colours help to lift the area and make it look brighter.

Plants that afford a white or pastel colour scheme also brighten the darker corners.

Let’s take a look at the wide choice of plants for shade.

I have mentioned all the following shrubs in previous articles which shows they are versatile and quite happy in a variety of situations such as coastal gardens.

Shrubs for Shade

Shrubs for dry shade:

  • Cortoneaster-deciduous, tough and resilient. Bares plenty of berries for wildlife.
  • Pyracantha – Hardy and colourful with masses of white flowers followed by red, orange or yellow berries.
  • Hypericum- Hardy, easy to grow and flowers are bright yellow, lovely to lighten up a dark corner.
  • Japanese Quince- Hardy, easy to grow and maintain, orange or red flowers followed by fruit.
  • Garrya elliptical or silk tassel bush – Evergreen with very pretty, long tassels in winter.
  • Viburnum tinus-This robust shrub is an ideal choice with dark glossy leaves, clusters of highly scented flowers followed by berries. Perfectly happy in a container too.
Yellow hypericum flower, plants that like a shade garden
Plants that like a shade garden.

Shrubs for damp shade:

  • Aucuba- Variegated laurel, thrives in damp shade, easy to care for.
  • Hydrangea-Gorgeous, blousy blooms that brighten up any garden.
  • Skimmia-Evergreen and deep shade tolerant, bright red berries in winter.
  • Camellia- Acid loving plants, evergreen, glossy leaves, prolific flowers in white, pink or red.
  • Fatsia japonica-An overall great addition to a shade garden. The bright green, glossy leaves will really lift a dark corner, coupled with creamy white flowers in winter.


Perennial Plants for Shade

Perennial plants for dry shade:

  • Euphorbia
  • Ferns
  • Alchemilla Mollis
  • Dicentra
  • Hellebores
  • Epimedium
  • Lily of the Valley

Perennial plants for damp shade:

  • Astilbe
  • Hostas
  • Ferns
  • Astrantia major
  • Geranium (Cranesbill)
  • Woodruff
  • Pulmonaria
  • Japanese anenome
Hostas, plants that like a shade garden.
Perennial Plants for Shade

Perennial Plants. First Year Flowering 

Bulbs for Shade

Bulbs that thrive in shade tend to be the late winter/early spring ones, they grow and flower at a time of year when light levels are naturally low.

They are easy to grow under hedgerows, trees and shrubs and will naturalise a shady area over years, adding colour and interest to darker corners of your garden.

Early spring bulbs to choose are:

  • Snowdrops
  • Crocus
  • Aconites
  • Cyclamen

Fritillary, Daffodils and tulips will all perform well in shaded parts of the garden as well. Fill containers with them, that can then be placed in areas such as patios, doorways, porches to add colour to these often shaded spots.

Snowdrops Bulbs for a shade garden
Bulbs for Shade

Roses for Shade

Most roses need a generous amount of sunshine but there are some varieties that can tolerate partial shade and will do very well. However, if the shade is caused by trees or a hedge then roses won’t be such a good choice as the trees take much of the water from the soil.

Choose the right rose and it will afford you some height, interest, scent and colour in a semi shaded part of your garden. Roses will need at least four hours of sunlight, they will not be happy in deep shade. How Do You Grow Roses? Secrets To Success

Try the following roses for shade:

  • Gertrude Jekyll
  • Scarborough Fair
  • The Poets Wife
  • Lady of Shallot
  • William and Catherine


The Best Vegetables for Shade

A selection of vegetables can be grown in partial shade too.

Some vegetables will perform better if protected from so much direct sunlight or intense heat, so shade produced by a fence or hedge is an ideal spot.

Runner beans will also scramble up a fence or wall looking for sunlight.

However, although some fruits will grow well in shade you will get more plant than fruit. Fruit needs some light and sun in order to be productive.

But Strawberries, Rhubarb and Gooseberry will all do well in a shady part of the garden.

Bunches of Rhubarb Plants that like a shade garden
Fruit and vegetables for shade gardens

Vegetables that are happy in shade are:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Reddish
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Salad leaves
  • Beetroot

Herbs such as parsley, mint, chervil, thyme, lemon balm, tarragon, coriander can also be grown in shade, so these would be a perfect choice to grow in a container in a shaded courtyard.

Top 12 Easy Grow Vegetables And Fruit

How to Improve Soil in Shade Areas

Improve Dry Shade Soil

Planting under trees, hedges, shrubs and other large plants that cast shade first needs some attention to the soil. These trees and plants will be taking moisture and nutrients from the soil. To improve dry soil in shaded areas of your garden dig in lots of well-rotted organic matter such as homemade compost. This will aid water retention and give back some much needed nutrients.

Add more compost/organic matter each autumn and mulch when neccessary.

New plants will need a bit more care and attention during hot, dry spells in the spring and summer to ensure they become established and remain healthy. Water regularly and well during their first year to give them every chance of being able to send down strong roots. The first years care of any plant is paramount to their future health.

Improve Damp Shade Soil

If you have an excessively wet shaded area in your garden, you may need to think about digging some drainage channels to allow water to run off. The plants I have included for damp shade won’t necessarily want their toes to be in water all the time. With a lot of water in an area there will be a lack of nutrients as they are washed away. Incorporate plenty of good, organic matter to reinstate nutrients and to soak up some of the run off.

Mix in gravel or grit as well as this will aid good drainage, particularly if you are wishing to plant bulbs. Make sure that bulbs are not sat in a boggy, wet area. They do really need very good drainage.



Making your own garden compost from garden and household waste is the best way of clearing unwanted organic materials and turning it into good quality mulch for your plants. Check out my blog on how to do so.

So you see, you have plenty of beautiful plants and flowers to brighten up the darkest of corners in your garden. In deep shade, I tend to use white flowering plants as they really do add light when nothing else can do so.

Take a look at Plants That Grow Well In Clay Soil

You will also find further plant suggestions in 20 Best Plants For A Coastal Garden.

I hope that this article inspires you to introduce plants to the shaded parts of your garden that often is overlooked for more amenable, brighter areas.

If you have found this useful or you wish to know any more information please do get in touch. I always reply to all comments.

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Happy Gardening

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