A Guide to Plants That Like Shade

Shade, due to trees or buildings, is an almost inevitable part of gardens and gardening. Understanding that plants respond differently to shade and that a wide range of shade situations are likely to be encountered is invaluable in planning and planting a garden.

Coral Bells

coral bells

This is a beautiful flowering plant that is actually a perennial. They grow in the shade and are known for their ease.

Apparently, they are easy to grow and require very little maintenance from that point forward.

So if you want something that could add a splash of colour and come back year after year then this might be the plant you’ve always wanted.

Dead Nettle


This is another perennial that is meant to add beautiful colours and foliage to your shaded garden spots.

Now, the only thing that may make this choice less than perfect for some is that it is used as a ground cover.

So, it will make roots and run. If you don’t want something running through your yard (though colourful and pretty) then you might want to choose a different option.

Foam Flower

foam flower

I love the name of this flower. Doesn’t it just sound interesting?

Well, it is a beautiful perennial flower. This one is not a ground cover. Instead, it has lots of individual blooms on one stem.

The appearance is not only unique but colourful as well.

So, if you are looking for a splash of colour to add to your shady spot then this might be a good option.



This is another very interesting plant. It actually gets its name because long ago people believed it looked like a lung and actually tried to treat lung diseases with it.

Unfortunately, the plant didn’t have any real medicinal powers, but the name stuck with it regardless.

However, this plant is a perennial and another one that can take off and run as well. It grows in batches so if you aren’t looking for a ground cover type plant then this might not be a good choice.

But it is one of the few plants that can be planted around trees and withstand the toxic effects of the Black Walnut tree.



This perennial is a beautiful flower that loves the shade. It also brings along a special quality when planted.

So, if you are a butterfly lover then this plant is for you. When you plant these flowers, they draw them which is a great addition to any yard or flower garden.



Foxgloves are undecided in the perennial and annual department. The same plant will not come back year after year.

But they do reseed themselves which makes them come back year after year.

So, if you need a plant that will come back each year and provide lots of beautiful colours then Foxgloves are for you.

Japanese Forest Grass


This is an interesting plant. It is a perennial so you should only have to plant it once.

But it isn’t extremely colourful by any means. However, it looks like a little pom-pom made of grass.

So, if you are looking for something to add a finishing touch to a shaded area without adding a rainbow of colour then this is a good option.

To make sure your Japanese Forest Grass is thriving, you might want to give it the best fertilizer.



A primrose can be either an annual or a perennial flower.

So, if you try them out and decide they aren’t for you then they don’t have to be a permanent fixture.

But after you see their bright colours and good temperament towards cold weather, you may decide to keep them around.



Lady’s Mantle

lady mantle

Lady’s Mantle is a perennial that has many uses. Some use it to decorate wreaths and other décor with. While others use it as a live edging.

However, this is a ground cover. So, if used as an edging it would have to be maintained regularly.

But this plant is not flashy. It is a simple green vine that has classic beauty and would certainly add some character to a shady spot in the garden or your yard.

Browallia Hybrid


So this is one of those set it and forget it type plants. You can use it in many diverse ways too.

Basically, they mound when planted in the ground. But they can also be used in flower boxes and vases.

But they are very heat tolerant plants and will grow just about anywhere including the shade.



Coleus is what is called a tender perennial. You must use a technique called pinching in order to get them to grow back bigger and stronger.

However, coleus will grow in the shade and it is very beautiful with dark, rich colours.

So if you want a simplistic plant with a little colour then you might want to consider coleus.

Copper Plant

copper plant

Copper Plant is an annual but it is a beauty. Its foliage is absolutely stunning with the different colours.

This plant can grow in the shade but it actually comes to its full-colour potential in the sun. So, if you have a shaded spot that gets a smidgen of sun then this plant might still work there.

However, they say Copper Plants require a little bit of babying. There are many pests that love it so it would certainly take diligence to grow this plant effectively and to its full potential.

Creeping Jenny

creeping jenny

Creeping Jenny is a perennial that will continue to come back year after year. Depending upon which zone you live in, it actually may stay green year round.

Either way, this is a ground cover so unless you pot it, it might very well take over your shady area. For some this might be a desired result.

But just keep that in mind when planting this if you aren’t sure you want it to cover your entire shaded area.

Fancy-leafed Caladium


So if you decide to go with this plant, remember, you can learn how to grow them from bulbs on your own or you can purchase them each year from a nursery.

Either way, they add a splash of colour to your shaded spot.

Flowering Maple

flowering maple

The Flowering Maple would be considered an annual for most of us. It prefers to have filtered sunlight; have 70-degree temperatures during the day; and 60-65 degree temperatures at night.

So, unless you are lucky enough to live in a warmer, tropical temperature then you’ll probably have to buy it new each year or keep it in a pot so you can bring it in over the winter.

Either way, the flowers on this plant are absolutely gorgeous.

Garden Hydrangea

garden hydrangea

Garden Hydrangeas are perennials. But let me just start off by saying that I love this option for a shaded garden.

Hydrangeas come in so many different colours now that they are just stunning and have a way of bringing a subtle amount of colour to a darker space.

Geranium Cranesbill


Geranium Cranesbill is a perennial. That is great news as you should only have to plant it once.

But the other great thing about this flower is that it doesn’t bloom and then have a lull. That is a personal pet peeve of mine because they only look pretty for a certain amount of time and the rest of the time the plant is just standing around.

Well, this plant isn’t that way. It blooms all season and adds constant beauty to your shaded garden.



Heucherella is a really unique plant. It was created when they crossed Coral Bells and Foam Flowers. It looks like a vine that puts off different coloured flowers.

So, if you are looking for a shaded ground cover then this might be what you’ve wanted. This plant is literally like getting two for the price of one.



I love Hostas. I grow them all over the place around my house. The reason is because they will grow just about anywhere and require basically now work.

So if you have an area that looks like it needs a little attention, place a hosta there. They are perennials and will come back larger and larger each new year.




Most impatiens is grown as annuals, but they also have a perennial option as well. The kicker with these plants is that most people grow the annual kind of impatiens so they can be enjoyed during the summer. The perennial option only thrives during the winter in the United States.

So, if you like beautiful mounding flowers then you’ll probably enjoy having Impatience around.

Meadow Rue

meadow rue

Meadow Rue is a perennial that loves to grow in swamp-like areas or along shaded, wooded areas. It is a pretty flower that comes in pastel colours.

Another added bonus of Meadow Rue is that it is not prone to disease or pest. The only thing is to make sure that you keep it watered but not soaked as it is known to develop rust.

Mirror Plant


Mirror Plants are perennials that are famously recognized from cottage-style gardens. They bloom in white, blue, pink, and purple.

So if you need a beautiful touch of colour to a shaded spot in your cottage-style garden then these would certainly be a nice addition.

Persian Shield


Persian Shield can be a perennial if you live in zones 8 through 11. If not, don’t worry. You can grow it outdoors during the warmer months and move it indoors over the winter months.

However, this beautiful plant can certainly add a subtle splash of colour regardless of where you live. It just might have to have some special accommodation made to keep its beauty around all year long.

Yesterday-Today-And Tomorrow


This is actually a shrub I had never heard of until recently. It, like many plants, can be a perennial in the right zones.

However, it will have to be potted and moved indoors if you live where frost could impact the plant. The blooms are beautiful on this plant and give off a sweet aroma to boot.