10 Best Shade Garden Plants

Do you love gardening as much as I do? I read somewhere recently that there is some kind of chemical in the dirt that releases endorphins in the brain.

Finding shade garden plants has been a challenge for me. I’ve been in my current home for over 10 years now, and by lots of trial and error, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t in my shady garden areas.

Here is a photo of my very shady front porch area. You will see most of the plants we’ve listed below I’ve used in this shady spot. It’s such a refreshing spot to sit on a hot summer day.

The best shade garden plants

If you have a shady garden, this post is for you!

Hostas Love Shade Gardens

hostas and clmibing vines

1. Hostas will probably be at the top of every shade garden plant list because they thrive in the shade. They do come in a variety of sizes and colors for added interest. Keep in mind they get big fast and need to be divided every few years to keep them under control.

Heuchera Adds Color

heuchera foliage for shady areas

Buffalo-Niagara Gardening

2. Heuchera is something I just recently discovered. We were visiting my husband’s cousin a while back, and while walking through her amazing gardens, (which you may remember from this post) I noticed these growing. I’ve since planted these in my own garden and they are very low maintenance and easy to grow!

Impatiens Bloom in The Shade

impatiens that grow well in the shade

 via Indulgy

3. Impatiens LOVE the shade. They are one of the few flowers that will thrive in the shade and are another low-maintenance plant. They are a great way to add some pops of color to the shady spots. I plant these every year.

Coleus – Colorful Shade Foliage

Coleus Flower Plant, excellent shade garden plants that come in a variety of colors, also great container plants


4. Coleus is another of my favorites shade garden plants for their foliage. They don’t require any upkeep and comes in a variety of colors. They also do well in container gardens.

Japenese Maple Trees

dwarf japenese maple tree

5.  We have a dwarf Japanese Maple in the center of our front yard garden and it’s the star of the show! The dwarf variety is a great choice for smaller garden areas. They’re a little pricey but worth it.

Hydrangeas Grow Well In Shade

limelight hydramgeas for shade gardens

6. Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers (tied with Gerbera Daisies). I planted a row of hydrangeas on the side of my house a year or two ago and they are thriving in this mostly shady spot. Different varieties require different upkeep so it’s important to know which type you’re planting.

Though I’ve heard of adding pennies or nails to the soil to get blue hydrangeas to be more colorful, mine hasn’t needed any extra measures such as that. My blue/purple hydrangeas keep their color without any effort on my part.

Astilbe Colorful Shade Flower

astilbe-rheinland colorful flower garden

 Home and Gardens Store

7. Astilbe is one shade flower I haven’t tried yet. My daughter and I saw these at a gardening center last week and I’ve been kicking myself that I didn’t grab a few. I love the feathery blooms on these!


mixed-daylilies-2 that bloom in the shade

 American Meadows

8. Lilies. Now, all the gardening websites say lilies need 6 hours of sunlight a day. I have several varieties of lilies in my shady gardens and they are all thriving.

One variety is the Stargazer Lilies which I dug up from the garden of my last house to take with me when I moved. In the previous house, it was also in the shade and thrived.

I have Daylilies around a shady tree as well as in my front yard garden and they all do well. In addition, I have some pure white lilies in the shade which are also thriving. Most Lilies are low maintenance and come back every year. Only the Daylilies require a little maintenance. When the stems dry up, just pluck them out and new stems will form. They will rebloom most of the summer.

Begonias Are A No Brainer

begonias for shade gardens

wheelbarrow planter

9. Begonias are a sure bet in the shade. No maintenance required and great for added color. They also make a great filler plant, as they will grow larger and fill in over the summer.


hostas are great shade garden plants that come in a variety of colors

 via Gardening Made Easy

10. Ferns (shown mixed with hostas) are great shade plants but definitely multiply and divide so they need to be kept under control. I have some in my backyard that got so big my husband calls them the prehistoric ferns! 🙂

Two more plants that are doing very well in my front yard shade garden are boxwoods and a climbing hydrangea plant. You can see the climbing hydrangea growing up the trellis on the side of my porch. It’s a slow grower that isn’t too invasive.

I’d love to hear about any shade garden plants you love that aren’t listed above, please leave a comment with your favorites! My gardens are still a work in progress, but I’ll share some more pictures of them soon!

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10 Best Shade Garden Plants


  1. I had a large shade garden before we moved to the south and I filled it with hostas, impatiens, hydrangea, coleus, and daylilies. It was such a gorgeous combination and I still long for some nice shady area so I can reproduce that garden again. Great picks – some of my favorites.

    1. Thanks, Cathy. That garden sounds perfect! I’m beginning to love my shade gardens more than my sun filled garden.

    2. I too love my shade garden, unfortunately, so do the deer!!! I had the most beautiful hostas, all different varieties! I now have several areas of green stalks sticking up!!! I have found nothing that will deter them from eating all my beautiful leaves! Our backyard is fenced in with 4′
      split rail, but they come over it like it is not even there!!!!!

      1. My aunt used to use dried blood from the slaughter houses. Animals do not like the scent of blood, and stay away.

  2. Great tips Roxanne! I am so bad at gardening but I love the look of a well groomed garden. Thanks for sharing these tips. Ill be sure to save it to Pinterest for when I muster up the courage to garden. 🙂

  3. I have sweet woodruff and pachysandra growing as a ground cover around my hostas and astilbes. The sweet woodruff has taken off like crazy and the sweet white flowers are so pretty in spring.

  4. Heuchera and Tiarella are one of my favorites for shade gardens because of the pop of color. Darker colors tend to tolerate a bit more sun. Hummingbirds love them. They don’t like wet feet and make great fall accents.

  5. I am 2 years into my flower garden and I love the Lillie’s. I have mostly sun and very little shade but I will try these in the shaded areas I do have. Thanks.

  6. Animal B Gone or critter ridder works to deter deer. Tried and succes grow hostas – the deer got all of mine the first year i was here. Been here 10 years now. Have touched them since. Follow the instRuctions on the bottle.

  7. Great list!
    The only one I don’t plant are ferns. Where I live they seem to just take over everything.
    I Love hostas, though, and the others you mentioned!
    I can’t wait to start planting again.

  8. Thank you so much for your inspiration and great tips!

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