Some of the most challenging areas to grow plants are in shaded positions that receive little to no direct sunlight. Every garden has a shaded area. Our readers have reached out to us to create a list of colorful and vibrant plants to grow in shade. So hear is our favorites list.
Many novice gardeners believe the only plants that can survive in shaded positions are colorless and dull. But, with a bit of digging around (pun intended) we have actually found a variety of perennial and annual plants that are not only colorful, but love and thrive in the shade.
Characteristics of Plants that Thrive in Shade
Most shade loving plants have common characteristics in order for them to survive with little direct sunlight. These characteristics include:
- Generally disease resistent – this is vitally important for the shade loving plants because of the moist conditions they live in. With moisture ever present, the likelihood of diseases and fungus increases. So the plants require a strong immunity to such diseases.
- Don’t mind soggy feet – since little sun reaches these areas, the soil is likely to be moist for long periods of time (especially in Winter). So the plants must be able to tolerate a wet environment. Which also means they tend not to suffer from root rot.
- Low maintenance – generally speaking the plants that love shade also don’t require too much attention or care. Which we consider to be a bonus. Who could ask for more than a plant that fills a vacant position in the garden and does it’s own thing without too much fuss!
Colorful Plants that Love the Shade
Our first colorful shade loving plant is the lovely Begonia. Not only do they produce a beautiful flower (pictured above), they have spectacular foliage to accompany the stunning floral display.
Begonia flowers come in a variety of colors, ranging from rose pink, white, orange, red and yellow. And yes – they will thrive in the shade. However, they are also versatile and can tolerate part shade and part sunlit positions. This makes them ideal for planting in containers or pots on your patio.
They do require good ventilation and can be planted underneath trees and medium sized shrubs.
Hydrangeas are another one of our top shade loving plants and definitely deserve to make the final cut.
These beauties showcase many mini flowers that make up a larger flower head. What is mystical about these shade loving plants is that their blooms can change color depending on the acidity of the soil they are growing in. So if you want to change the flower color from a wonderful purple to a lighter pink, all you would need to do is add some Hydrangea fertilizer with the right acidity levels.
The size of Hydrangeas range from small 2 foot shrubs to much larger forms that closer resemble trees. So make sure you select the correct species of Hydrangea when you visit the nursery.
Caladium plants have spectacular foliage (as you can see in the above picture). Their beautiful heart shaped leaves sport vibrant red veins shooting from the center of the leaves.
Caladiums are great for gardens that need an injection of color into the monotony of green (in most gardens). They generally grow low to the ground, where there isn’t often much color to be seen. And like Begonias, they are perfectly happy to be planted underneath a tree to act as a live mulch layer for root protection.
WARNING – Although they are beautiful, all parts of the Caladium plants are known to be poisonous. This means it is important to be take care when performing maintenance on the Caladium plants. Also keep them in areas that are less likely to be frequented by children.
Okay, so not exactly a colorful plant, but definitely one that has to be mentioned on any shade loving plants list. We love ferns for their beautiful long and intricate leaves.
What they lack in color, they definitely make up for in their design and texture that they bring to any garden. If you have the space and the time, we would recommend trying to grow a fern forest. The main idea behind a fern forest is the layer effect. You want to try incorporate fern trees at different levels (to achieve a forest effect).
If you succeed in growing a fern forest, it could possibly become your favorite part of the garden. You could achieve a feeling of been away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in your very own garden.
Ferns come in many different types and styles. Be sure to research the type you are after before making a purchase, as each fern will require different care and treatment.
Gardenia plants are the perfect shade loving plants for many reasons. The delicate flowers they produce will definitely brighten up any shaded positions. And their lush green foliage brings a richness to what would be otherwise dull areas of the garden.
They are hardy and don’t require too much maintenance, other than a general trim to keep them neat and tidy.
Be sure to allow them sufficient space to grow, as Gardenias tend to be medium sized shrubs.
They come in a variety of colors to suit most garden themes.
Sometimes referred to as the False Goat’s Beard, the Astilbe flowers are a lovely sight in any shaded position of the garden.
They love moist conditions (as most shaded positions are) and look great when grown en mass.
With their colorful spikes, the Astilbe is a great asset to any garden (shaded or not). They are particularly effective in cottage garden settings where they can shoot above the rest of the ground loving plants.
They are low maintenance, attract butterflies with their colorful spears, and also deer and rabbit resistant. Another great reason to include them in your garden.
Growing plants in shade can be a challenge to the most seasoned of gardeners. However with the right tools and knowledge you can turn a dull and lifeless position into a thriving shaded garden.
Be sure to share our article the BEST COLORFUL PLANTS TO GROW IN SHADE with your friends and family who need some help in the garden.