10 Best Shade Garden Plants

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Do you love gardening as much as I do?  I read somewhere recently that there is some kind of chemical in dirt that releases endorphins in the brain.    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.  If you have a shady garden, this post is for you.

1.  Hostas will probably be at the top of every shade garden plant list because they work.  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 other year or so to keep them under control.  Other than that,  they are very low maintenance.

Hosta Garden



2.  Heuchera is something I just recently discovered.  We were visiting my husband’s cousin last weekend, and walking through her amazing gardens, which you may remember from this post.  I don’t have any experience with this one myself yet.


Buffalo-Niagara Gardening


3.  Impatiens LOVE the shade.  Very low maintenance and a great way to add some pops of color to the shady spots.  I plant these every year.


 via Indulgy


4.  Coleus is another of my favorites for shade foliage.  This also requires no upkeep and comes in a variety of colors.

Coleus Flower Plant



5.  We have a dwarf Japanese Maple in the center of our front yard garden and it’s the star of the show!  They’re a little pricey but worth it.

japenese maplemarlie’s garden

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 so I’m still learning with these.  Different varieties require different upkeep.  Since I don’t know which varieties I have, I just water them and that’s it.  They seem to do fine with that.  My blue/purple hydrangeas keep their color without me taking any measures such as adding pennies to the soil, which you may have heard of.


 Debra Silver


7.  Astilbe is another 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!


 Home and Gardens Store


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.  I have Stargazer Lilies which I even dug up from the garden of my last house to take with me.  I have Daylilies around a shady tree and they also do well.  And I have some pure white lilies in the shade, also thriving.  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.


 American Meadows


9.  Begonias are another sure bet in the shade.  No maintenance, great for added color.




10.  Ferns 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.


 via Gardening Made Easy

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 pictures of them soon!


10 Best Shade Garden Plants

5 thoughts on “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 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.

  3. 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.

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