Top 10 Plants for Shaded Gardens

Top 10 Plants for Shaded Gardens

Shade Gardens have their own unique charm and can be lush, beautiful and full of interest. You can create wonderful woodland effect if your planting under tree’s, or if you have a small, enclosed or north facing garden. You can choose plants that will provide plenty of colour and texture with their lush foliage and flowers.

The key to planting in shady spaces is to choose the right plants for the right space – plants that prefer sun will sulk if they’re positioned in a shady spot and never fulfill their potential, but there are many shade loving varieties that will happily romp away. Here are our 10 of the best.


Hellebores are very easy to grow once you have a few in your garden, they begin to self-seed and naturalise, forming attractive groups. Flowering every year in Winter and Spring, they add plenty of early interest to kick off the season. Combine them with woodland bulbs like Anemones, Snowdrops or Bluebells for a really colourful spring display.




This resilient and hardy evergreen plant provides year round ground cover with its glossy, green foliage. In late spring, you can also enjoy its beautiful mauve flowers which are produced continuously for months along its spreading stems. If you have a large area to fill, for for a greater periwinkle (Vinca Major). For small gardens, try the more dainty lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor)





Hostas are great for growing in containers as well as borders, so they’re a great choice for shady courtyards. They do have a reputation for getting eaten by slugs but you can put a ribbon of copper tape around your pot which will stop the slugs reaching them. These wonderful foliage plants come in an array of green, blue and variegated shades. thriving in moist, shady conditions.




Saxifraga (also known as Saxifrage) is typically a rockery plant and looks great nestled between large stones or in gravel gardens. They tolerate shade as well as full sun, so they can be repeated in sunnier areas of the garden borders too. These low growing plants are ideal for the front of the border, forming neat rosettes of foliage which are topped with delicate pink or white flowers on slender stems during the summer. The foliage is evergreen so it provides year round cover and interest.




Ferns are shade -garden classic and look particularly good planted under trees or within shrubberies, providing a woodland effect. Ferns add height, structure and texture to a shade planting scheme and combine well when interwoven with ground cover plants aswell as other woodland garden plants, like Helleborus and Digitalis.




This wonderful plant has long, spreading stems and does a great job of quickly covering ground in shade, working particularly well under trees. The silver-patterned foliage adds light to a shady space all year round which is complemented by blue or yellow flowers in summer.



Japanese Anemone

Fantastic plants for adding height and movement to a shady borders with thisa beautiful shade loving perennial. The flowers sit on tall, swaying stems and return for a repeat performance, in summer every year. The flowers turn into attractive fluffy seed heads which provide additional interest in autumn and the foliage forms a neat mound that fills a space quickly. Good varieties include Honorine Joubert (White) and Queen Charlotte (light Pink).




Known as Elephants ears these plants are a prize winner in the shade loving garden. Broad, glossy, upright lieaves they make a fantastic ground cover plant. Plant them in large groups or swathes at the front of the border for best effect. In late srping, they produce dense bright pink flowers which light up the garden and attract bees.




Peonies have bold and beautiful blooms that look fantastic in the garden. the added bonus is they make great cut flowers for the house with a good vase life too. They tolerate shade and prefer a humus rich moist soil. They’re ideal for planting in shady beds and borders among perennials and small shrubs. Its a good idea to stake peonies before they bloom to avoid the stems becoming weighed down and flopping.




FoxgloveFoxgloves are great plants for shady gardens and do very well in a woodland setting. They come in a vast range of colors and the most popular shades are white, pink and apricot. Some are plain flowers and others have a mottled effect on the actual flowers. Good varieties include the Dalmation series, Mertonensis and Suttons apricot. They are also known as Digitalis. Used extensively in the Cottage garden planting scheme alongside other popular back of the border plants to include Delphiniums.








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