Shade Garden Favorites – Choosing Plants That Grow In Shade

By Becca Badgett | August 25, 2020
Image by Becca Badgett
by Becca Badgett
August 25, 2020

Wherever your landscape is located, you have the issue of dealing with shade. Unless you’re in the desert or on top of a treeless mountain, there are shady areas in your yard. Often, those shady areas benefit from attractive plantings, maybe even an entire garden bed. Good news for those that need to add to their shady spot, there are many plants that grow in shade, much more than just the typical hostas.

My Shade Garden Favorites

One plant that I like using instead of hosta in mostly shaded spots is variegated solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’). Reaching 24 to 36 inches (61-91 cm.) in height, bell-shaped blooms appear in spring before the variegated foliage. The long-lasting flowers remain for a few weeks after the leaves grow. Foliage lasts all summer on this classic shade specimen.

Grow it in dappled shade or a couple hours of morning sun. Once it’s been in the ground a few years, the annual multiplication often gives it the appearance of an arching shrub. There are several other types of solomon’s seal such as the false solomon’s seal plant, a non-variegated type, along with dwarf and variegated hybrids. Divide the rhizomes in spring or fall, if desired, for more plantings.

Combine these with other part shade lovers like:

Add a hydrangea shrub to draw the eye upward, depending on the bed design. These specimens will accommodate a full to part shade area and thrive. Depending on your hardiness zone, some may grow as annuals.

Back to hostas”¬¶they’re planted under trees and in other shady spots for a good reason. Hostas thrive in these conditions and return every year. There are many different patterns and shades of green. Some, especially those with yellow in the leaves, happily take morning sun.

Shade Garden Herbs and Veggies

If much of your garden has limited sun, just a couple of hours or spots that get only dappled sun, you may fear that you cannot grow an herb garden. With just limited sun though, you can grow a number of herbs. Some of my favorites include:

An attractive hybrid called Golden Variegated comfrey will also grow in a full to part shade location.

While most veggies require a good deal of sun, some will tolerate a few hours of shade. Their output may be somewhat diminished, but if you have no other area, give it a try. Some veggies that like afternoon shade during hotter weather, which is something I deal with often, include:

If you’re limited to mostly shade in your landscape, plant it with shade tolerant specimens. You might come to appreciate the variety of plants that grow in shade. You may even come to enjoy the shade more than you thought.

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