We’ve all learned that plants need proper growing conditions to thrive: healthy soil, a little water, and light.
Water and soil you can influence, but for a garden facing away from the sun, what can you do about light?
Nothing to worry about, there’s an easy fix. All you have to do is select plants that prefer shade over sun. And there are plenty to choose from! Here is a selection of perennials and shrubs to help you out.
Heath plants: Lords of the Dark lands
Heath plants are, without a doubt, all-out champions when it comes to populating a shaded bed. The family boasts a wide range of colors for flowers and leaves. Shapes and fragrances are also varied and appealing, too. A single drawback requires attention: they only truly thrive in acidic soil.
Among the most common heath plants, you’ll find: azalea, rhododendron, bog-rosemary, Japanese maple, skimmia, the omnipresent hydrangea, the winter-blooming camellia, and of course heather itself, the namesake for this broad family. There are many more plants in this family, much more than this short list contains.
An evergreen perennial, bergenia blooms in winter and at the very beginning of Spring. An easy plant to care for, it makes for an excellent ground cover at the foot of a tree or shrub, for instance.
Actually a tiny, low-lying covering perennial, saxifrage is a very refined addition to a shade-covered flower bed thanks to its numerous small air-born flowers.
The species that are most often recommended for shade areas are: Saxifraga urbium, Saxifraga stolonifera (which bears very unique flowers) and Saxifraga umbrosa.
Similarly to heath plants, hosta is also known to naturally grow very well in shade. Leafage is what makes these shade princesses stand out. Gardeners have even created entire flower beds with only hostas of varying colors and sizes, and it still looked amazing!
They also have a weak point, and not an easy one to counter at that: slugs go haywire over them and will eat them up!
Growing in perennial bunches, omphalodes won’t need any care at all.
It’ll bring light to dark areas of your garden thanks to its bright green leaves and small blue flowers that resemble those of forget-me-nots.
- These stay low and won’t grow very high
Also settles right in darker, shade-covered spots of the yard, heuchera presents a wide palette of colorful leaves. It’ll only be a question of what to choose to set your growing bed up.
A few varieties that are particularly remarkable: Heuchera sanguinea, Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace purple’ and Heuchera ‘Caramel’.
Hellebore strikes a home run when it comes to shade: it loves shady corners and also blooms from December to April depending on the species. There is no better choice to embellish your garden in winter.
Fortune’s spindle ‘Emerald’n’Gold’
This smallish shrub creeps and crawls around, keeping its leaves all winter long. It blooms in Summer with either white or pink flowers. After fertilization, they turn into cute bright red berry fruits.
Leaves of Gaultheria also have a nice peculiarity: when you wrinkle them, a powerful fragrance fills the air.
Hard to write an article about shade plants without mentioning ferns. Even though they never bear flowers, they’re still very much worthy of interest. Shape of their leaves, lush green color, and coming in all sizes, they’re perfect to fill in shaded gardens.
A few that stand out from the rest are Phyllitis scolopendrium which has smooth, uncut leaves, Adiantum pedatum with delicately chiseled fronds, the original Cyrtomium fortunei and the classic but ever-hardy Dryopteris.
Light and dark by Hans Braxmeier under Pixabay license
Fence with Heather by Rudy and Peter Skitterians under Pixabay license
Bergenia blooms by Monika Schröder under Pixabay license
Delicate saxifrage flowers by Petra Fischer under Pixabay license
Shade hosta by Elena under Pixabay license
Carpet of omphalodes by Maja Dumat under © CC BY 2.0
Red heuchera leaves by Monika Schnabel under Pixabay license
Hellebore, flower of the shade by Sister M.Jutta under Pixabay license
Spindle leafage by Ibby Wederzijds under © CC BY 2.0
Cotoneaster in the shade by Sarah Tevendale under Pixabay license
Berries and flowers on Gaultheria by Jason Hollinger under © CC BY 2.0
Sprouting fern fronds by Stanisław Tobolewski under Pixabay license