Shade Garden Design IdeasLighten up a shady garden with a well-thought-out design and carefully selected plants
For some gardeners shade is a luxury, for others it is challenge. If you fall into the latter group, don’t give up. A thriving garden in the shade is possible! Whether you want to spruce up a shady backyard patio, add color to a shaded border or bring life to a woodland path, a well-thought-out design and carefully selected plants are essential. Both foliage and flower lovers will be impressed by the wide variety of shade-loving plants available that will flourish in filtered light, deep shade, or even a wetland environment. Check out the resources below to start the journey of transforming your landscape’s shady spots into a stunning low-light garden.
Shade Gardening Articles: Get an inside look at well-designed shade gardens in Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Toronto and more.
PLANTS FOR SHADE GARDENSDiscover some of our favorite shade-loving plants to add interest to your own garden no matter how much light it receives.
Hardy in zones 3-9, astibles are the go-to plant for adding color to shady spots. Choose between showy flowers in red, pink or white and enjoy the fern-like foliage in the off season. Mature plants can reach a height of five feet. (Picture originally appeared here.)
Better known as bleeding heart, this perennial has beautiful foliage with graceful stems of heart-shaped flowers in spring. Prized for the ability to flourish in damp woodland settings alongside ferns and other shade-lovers, bleeding heart is hardy in zones 3-9, can grow up to three feet wide and tall, and is available in pink, white or yellow. (Picture originally appeared here.)
These leafy plants pair well with ferns and impatiens and are a popular choice for containers. Their splashy foliage colors will add a bright spot to any shade garden. See 9 types of caladiums.
A great plant for partial to light shade, Drimiopsis maculata is hardy to Zone 9 and is a nice size for containers. Learn more.
Spring Meadow Nursery
Hydrangea macrophylla Let's Dance™ 'Moonlight'
Hydrangeas are classic big, pretty flowers, and the reblooming Let’s Dance series from Spring Meadow Nursery takes it to the next level, with saturated colors and lush plants. ‘Moonlight’ is a mophead form in rich pink that ages to chartreuse; in acidic soils the flowers are blue. Hardy to Zone 5. gardencrossings.com, springmeadownursery.com, stargazerperennialscatalog.com
Terra Nova Nurseries
Foamy Bells 'Sweet Tea'
Coppery-orange leaves, 4 inches across, are marked with cinnamon-colored stars. X Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’, a hybrid between Tiarella and Heuchera villosa, forms a neat mound 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. Performs best in light shade. Looks fabulous no matter how hot the summer. Perennial. Zones 4 to 8.
Solenostemon 'Chocolate Mint'
Solenostemon 'Chocolate Mint' is a rich new coleus with mahogany velvet leaves edged in chartreuse. For just a hint of black, try racy ‘Fishnet Stocking’ coleus, with an inky tracery of black-purple veins over lime green. burpee.com, chocolateflowerfarm.com, parkseed.com, veseys.com
Coleus 'Pink Chaos'
Hot-pink leaves with ruffled, variegated borders edged with a thin line of light green make Solenostemon ‘Pink Chaos’ look like an explosion of neon paisley. Grows 6 to 18 inches tall. Can be perennial in Zones 10 to 11, but elsewhere is an annual. Available from Garden Crossings, Proven Winners, and Sunny Borders Nurseries.
New Guinea Impatiens
One of 22 varieties in the Celebrette Series, ‘Coral Light’ has a kickin’ combination of large coral flowers hovering over dark-edged foliage midstriped with a blaze of more coral. Needs some shade, but laughs at heat and humidity. Grows 8 to 10 inches tall and 10 to 12 inches wide. Annual. simplybeautifulgardens.com
My lawn languishes under several large shade trees. Is there anything I can do short of cranking up the chain saw?
The shady, narrow walkway beside our city house is a straight 30-foot shot, flanked by beds only a foot wide. Are there any ways to make this dead space come alive?