Top Ten Shade-Loving Plants

By Jessica Mcnamara

Apr 26, 2021

Leaves of garden plant in a shaded area

Daydreaming of your Summer garden? Even if your garden is mostly shady and not bursting with full sun, you can still fill it with colour. Many gardens have shady areas, where sun-loving plants won’t thrive. Gardening in the shade can be a pretty difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be! The good news for you is that there are plenty of plants that prefer a shady garden and it’s possible to have a beautiful landscape even in limited light.  

There are various types of shade and it’s important you understand which one your garden provides. Light shade means slight shade for all or most of the day; partial shade means plants are in sun for some of the day; dappled shade is blotchy shade created when the sun filters through overhead foliage. Pay attention to the soil also, the soil in your shady spot could be damp or dry which will also determine what plants you can and can’t grow.  

Choosing too many dark greens can make a shady area look gloomy. Bring your area to life by using vibrant colours such as yellow, purple, red and pink.  

Try these shade lovers to get you started on the road to a lush shady oasis: 

Astilbe garden plants in shade



Astilbe is popular amongst gardeners for its showy plumes of dramatic flowers, over fern-like foliage that appear in summer after many other woodland plants are finished blooming.  Astilbes produce flowers in shades of violet, pink, white and red, making them a real standout in any garden.  

Foliage is available in bronze, pale green, blue green, dark green or wine red. Choosing varieties of foliage colours, bloom times and heights, they add interesting colour & textures throughout the season.  

Perfect for a dry shade corner and prefers rich soil that stays constantly moist. Mass as a ground cover in a woodland garden or shaded borders where it’s dramatic blooms add height and vibrant colour. Perfectly matched with hostas, coral bells and ferns.  

Heuchera close up


Heucheras are attractive, mound-forming plants which make fine plants for shaded gardens. Produces colourful leaves in shades ranging from burgundy to lime green. They’re so vivid that they almost don’t look real! 

There seems to be no end to the variations in leaf colour. It’s the foliage that provides the visual excitement, though some varieties also have delicate flowers on tall, slender stems in spring to mid-summer. Some are tolerant of dry soils while other prefer damper habitats, it will tolerate the sun, but its best colour typically occurs in shade.  

Alchemilla close up


Perfect for any shaded garden, this is a very long-lived and trouble-free plant. The flowers are yellow-green and appear in early June. When water falls on this plant’s pleated leaves, it beads up into dazzling little jewels.  

Red and green coleus close up


Popular for their striking leaf colours that range from lime green to deep red with tiny flower spikes in summer. Coleus foliage comes in a never-ending array of patterns, forms and colours which makes them perfect for any garden. Coleuses prefer rich soil that drains well, regular watering and typically likes shade. 

This tropical plant is extremely versatile as a design element, use as a stand-alone accent or massed as garden bedding or border plants. Perfectly matched in containers with flowering annuals such as million bells, fuchsia or impatiens.  

Anemone pink and purple


Japanese anemones can start flowering as early as July and continue offering beautiful colour well into Autumn. Most stand at nearly a metre high, their flowers, which can vary from purest white through to deepest pink, provide elegance to any garden bed or border from early September into October.  

Single or semi-double varieties are available and when it comes to growing them, they prefer good garden soil with a shaded or part-shaded position. Once they have made themselves at home they will easily spread.  

 Blue hydrangea garden plants


Hydrangea is an old-fashioned favourite that blooms in summer and fall. Plant in a mixed garden border as a stand-alone accent or as a screening along a property border. Hydrangea comes in a wide variety of species and forms, so there is one perfect for every garden. 

Flowers are blue, purple, pink or red, meaning there is one for every garden design. Most prefer regular water and rich amended soil. Hydrangeas prefer bright shade rather than deep shade. 

Purple Aster flowering plants


Many different shapes, sizes, colours and names. The most quintessential herbaceous perennial for autumn colour.  

Clematis Montana light pink garden climber


Clematis Montana   

Best for growing in the shadiest areas of your garden. The clematis natural habitat is to grow under the canopy of trees and shrubs and for the twining stems to grow through the branches, allowing the flower to lay on the open canopy above. Because of this habit Clematis will cope with partial shade to full shade.  

Clematis Montana is a vigorous grower that will grow in light shade. It has stunning white flowers with four petals and flowers from late spring to early summer.  



Excellent hardy perennial for growing in shade beneath trees or in a moist garden border. They prefer moist soils but will tolerate drier conditions as long as the plants are mulched.  

Anthurium red



Native to Central and Southern America, Anthuriums have been a very popular tropical houseplant for years. Many are adding this plant to their outdoor spacesTheir colourful spathe can be found in bright red, pink, purple, orange and white depending on variety.  

Requires consistent watering and well-draining soil. Don’t overwater these as they are prone to root rot, crown rot and fungal diseases. Partial shade or filtered indirect light is needed, too much sunlight can lead to scorching them and too little light can cause them not to produce their attractive spathes. They also don’t tolerate windy outdoor areas.