Shady Garden spots can often be overlooked as many plants and flowers benefit from being placed in areas that get more sun. This doesn’t have to be the case, as there are many different flowers and plants that thrive in shadier areas
Hosta is a herbaceous perennial that is very well suited to areas that don’t get much sunlight. Their wide, deep green leaves can look attractive in areas covered by trees or shadows from walls and fences.
You should aim to plant Hosta around the springtime or in the autumn. Seeds should be planted shallow at a depth of 3 inches, and as they are growing, you can use mulch to cover the soil and add nutrients.
Often referred to as “Elephant Ear” due to the shape and size of the red and green leaves, Caladium is a member of the Araceae family. The plant is native to South America and can often be found alongside rivers and in rainforests.
Ideally, Caladium should be planted fairly shallow in the soil at a depth of 4 to 6 inches. You should leave the same amount of space between each bulb as well. You can start with indoor seeds that you can water for up to 4 weeks planting, then replant outdoors in the spring.
Native to Japan but also a firm favourite among gardeners the world over, the Hydrangea has many different varieties that produce a beautiful, full flower that blooms between late spring and early autumn.
Most gardeners recommend that you place the root ball of this plant directly in to a pre-dug hole that is at least twice as wide as the roots themselves. You will then need to half fill the space with soil and water it until it the excess liquid has drained, then top up the hole with more soil. Aim for spacing of at least 3 feet between each plant and water regularly.
Wild Bleeding Heart
Also known as Dicentra exima, the Wild Bleeding Heart is characterised by its unusually shaped flowers and leaves that are quite similar to ferns in their colour and structure. The delicate pink flowers can look fantastic in shady garden areas.
Moist, fertile soil is the best for growing wild bleeding heart, and their natural environments are usually woody areas. Regular watering and adding compost to will keep them nice and healthy, and as they aren’t particularly invasive, they won’t affect other plants in the vicinity.
The turtlehead gets its name from the shape of the small, oval-shaped flowers that bloom on top of the deep green leaves that sprout from the stem. Also known as Chelone, after an ancient Greek mythological character, this easy to manage plant grows without the need for special attention.
You can start Chelone or turtle head from both cuttings or seeds in an indoor tray then transfer them to the garden. Other than regular watering and perhaps occasional pruning for aesthetic purposes, they don’t require any special care.
Known by its other name of Japanese Forest Grass, this thick, dense and very lush looking plant creates an impression not too dissimilar to a thatched roof. It doesn’t flower, but it can still provide a carpet of rich green vegetation in shadow or woody garden areas.
This plant is extremely easy to care for and will only require you to keep it as moist as you can, perhaps adding mulch if you need to improve the quality of the soil. Known as an “ornamental” plant, it can be planted and left unattended without any serious issues.
Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium)
Lamium looks quite similar to the common stinging nettle but with the addition of attractive purple flowers that bloom around the summer time. They can give a rustic and wild feel to woody or shady garden areas and will provide a splash of colour amongst the green.
Lamium should be started indoors, preferably in a small plastic bag filled with compost. You will then need to place them in the freezer for several weeks before re-potting and transferring to the garden after the weather improves in the spring.
Liriope grows up to 18 inches tall and sports a tall, thin flower that many people find very attractive. It is a hardy and resilient plant that can withstand all kinds of soil conditions so unless your garden is particularly sandy or full of clay; you shouldn’t have any problems.
Starting Liriope in a greenhouse or indoors is a good idea and once transferred to the garden it will need to be watered to ensure the soil is kept moist. You can also add mulch to improve the quality of the soil. Regular watering is essential during the first year as this will prevent it from dying off.
Epimedium features small white and yellow flowers that grow scattered among the wide, flat leaves. The red and green colouring of the leaves themselves can be quite attractive, so even if you don’t get flowers that year, it will still brighten up shady areas quite well.
Regular watering is essential for this plant; however, you will need to gradually taper off the amount you give it as the year progresses. Around the end of winter, many gardeners take away the excess leaves to allow Epimedium to flower.
A vibrant and striking flower that boasts an incredibly vivid colour and an unusual shape that catches the eye. These spiky looking plants are ideal for improving shady garden spots and will grow up to waist height if properly looked after.
Cutting back dead flowers and ensuring the soil is rich and fertile is the main thing to consider when growing Astilbes. They thrive in areas that get a little sunlight, so underneath trees or structures that allow a little light to penetrate are often prime locations to place them.
Tiarella grows up to 60 centimetres in height and produce leaves that look almost heart shaped. The shade of green can vary throughout the year and may turn red eventually. The flowers are usually small and white like daisies and grow in clusters like a spear head.
Like many plants of its type, tiarella benefits from stratification in the fridge, then should be planted in seed trays and watered regularly until it sprouts. It can then be transferred to the garden and planted in either partial shade or even full shade.
Campanula sports a beautiful purple flower head that opens wide to reveal a yellow centre where the pollen can be collected by bees and other insects in the summertime. These plants look great in borders and beds but will also thrive in shady spots, providing some sunlight still gets through.
The main thing to remember with this plant is to prune the dead flowers as soon as they appear and also keep the soil drained properly as they won’t grow in waterlogged conditions. They don’t usually attract pests or disease so as long as you keep them watered, there shouldn’t be any problems.
The humble fern is an often overlooked plant in the home garden, but it can provide a much need flash of lush greenery to areas that don’t get much natural sunlight. Hardy and long-lasting, these are a great choice for people who don’t have much time to spend in the garden every day.
Ferns need moisture and do very well in humid conditions, which means they can survive wet summers and unusually warm but soggy winters. They will need to be placed in good quality soil, preferably enriched by compost. They can turn brown in poor quality conditions, so this is quite important.
Bee Balm is a beautiful flower that features rounded flowers that can vary in colour from red to white or even purple and violet. Sometimes used to make tea and occasionally known by their other name “horsemint” this is a delicate and attractive flower, ideal for shady areas.
Place bee balm plants at least 1 foot apart in wet soil, though be careful to ensure it drains properly. You will need to trim the stems around two inches above the ground and fertilise the soil to make sure it has enough nutrients to nourish the plant.
Bellflowers get their name from their shape as they resemble a church bell when starting to bloom. The flowers can be a range of different colours and hang facing down from the thin, curved green stems. They generally flower around June to August when the weather is warmest.
These hardy little flowers do not actually require any special care. Providing they are planted after the final frost of spring and given adequate water; they can withstand quite extreme weather conditions, which makes them very good for gardeners in colder or unsettled climates.
The blue powder spray of forget-me-not flowers look absolutely delightful in shady green spots and will add a deep, vibrant colour to neglected or unattended areas of the garden. These are technically wildflowers, but many gardeners choose to use them as well.
Self-seeding and very resilient, the forget-me-not doesn’t need special treatment to thrive and will do very well underneath trees or next structures like sheds or greenhouses.
The foxglove is a tall flower that features bell-shaped flowers in a range of different colours. It grows in the wild and can be poisonous, so those with small children or animals may need to be careful when placing them. Their resilience and colour mean they are perfect to be grown in shady areas that don’t get much sun.
Foxgloves can be grown from seeds and work best when planted in moist, well-draining soil that receives at least a little bit of sunlight. They can drop seeds and will become quite dense, so pruning and thinning them out is essential.
The Hellebore is a large, round flower that grows in the early spring through to the end of summer., though they start to flower earlier than this. Their pink petals and yellowish green centre offer a great contrast to shady green areas underneath trees or overhanging bushes.
Ideally best kept in quite sheltered conditions, away from cold winds or extreme temperatures, the hellebore works well in damp soil in secluded areas of the garden. You will need to prune the leaves around January or February but be careful not to damage the flowers.
Jacobs ladder is a leafy plant that will produce sparsely populated but beautiful flowers of violet, purple and yellow. It is sometimes known as Greek valerian and originates from Europe.
Generally, these plants don’t need much care at all, though the leaves can sometimes get a little out of control so you will need to cut them back as and when they begin to grow. You should also ensure the soil is drained properly and that you water them in dry conditions.
Named after their unusual shape and texture that resembles lambs ears, this green and hardy plant actually thrives in soil that isn’t particularly rich in nutrients. This makes it a good choice for gardeners who don’t have time to treat their soil with compost.
Start lambs’ ears in pots at first and water them regularly until they have established themselves properly. Then you can transfer them to a shady area underneath a tree or somewhere where the soil isn’t rich.
The Lily-of-the-valley has very small, round shaped white flowers that look a little like snow drops. An attractive and delicate plant, they can survive in the shade very well and don’t usually need much special care.
Soaking the seeds in slightly warm water can be a good way to get them started before planting. Then place them in an area that doesn’t get much sun and benefits from the natural shade.
The monkshood features blue or white flowers that grow on top of the green stems, which are usually quite resilient. Similar to foxgloves in appearance, they add colour to shady spaces well.
Nutrient-rich soil is the best to grow monkshood, and though they can be started from seed, many gardeners prefer cuttings as they can take at least a year to properly germinate and flower.
The primrose is a favourite due to its beautiful pink and yellow flower that appears in tight bunches atop the wide, flat, veined leaves that make up the rest of the plant.
Ideally suited to well-drained soil that has been treated with mulch or other organic fertiliser, this plant should be placed between 6 and 12 inches apart and also set at a similar depth to avoid problems with cold temperatures.
These hardy but beautiful plants can withstand cold temperatures and harsh winters, which makes them ideal for gardens in areas that don’t get a lot of sun. Their attractive purple flowers look fantastic in the shade.
Generally better suited acidic soil and benefiting from regular watering, this hardy plant can be cut in when in full bloom without being damaged.
The vibrant violet is a firm favourite among gardeners because of its striking colour. The distinctive flower shapes catch the eye and also have a delightful fragrance.
You can plant violets any time between spring and autumn, and though they can handle most types of soil, they usually do better in well draining, rich ground that is full of organic nutrients.
Blue Holly “China Girl”
Blue Holly or China Girl gets its name from its spiky appearance and its deep blue colour. This prickly but pretty character looks wonderful in the shadier spots of the garden and won’t need too much maintenance either.
Best placed in slightly acidic soil that drains properly, these are some of the lowest maintenance plants around, so you won’t need to worry about pruning or specific care routines to keep them looking good.
Coleus has a warm, reddish-brown hue that compliments naturally shady areas really well. It is sometimes known as duck foot because of the shape of the leaves.
This plant can grow quite quickly so cutting it back may be necessary, though it can be left to flourish if you prefer a slightly wild look to the shadier areas of your garden.
A favourite for bees and other insects, Alyssum blooms into a delightfully attractive bed of flowers that can be purple, white or shades of violet. It generally blooms every year without much maintenance.
Alyssum needs to be well watered, especially in the hotter months of the year. They also benefit from being pruned, so take off around a third of their height with some pruning shears and treat the soil with a nutrient-rich fertiliser to give them the best chance of survival
A popular flower that blooms in summer and provides a flash of colour in wooded or shady areas of the garden. They generally flower for a long time and providing you nurture them correctly; they will survive until winter, when they will need to be carefully taken out of the ground and taken indoors or into a greenhouse.
Begonias can be grown in shady areas without a problem but generally need to be started indoors in a seed tray at first, preferably around March. Tubers should be placed on top of sandy compost that is around 3 inches in depth with hollow side facing upwards. After the leaves sprout, repot them individually then place them in the garden after the final frost.
Common Shooting Star
These unusual plants only flower from May until June but can produce a lovely effect in shady garden spots. They have attractive purple flowers and a tangle of stems and leaves that many keen gardeners use to create texture and mass in areas that look a little sparse.
This plant does not flower in the first year and produces seeds that need to be stratified and then pollinated by bees. You can do this by refrigerating the pods for up to 90 days after collecting them. These can then be replanted if you choose to.
Known by their other names of Heuchera or alumroot, the coral bell is a very resilient plant that grows in shady garden spots very well without any need for special treatment. Usually featuring attractive pink flowers and green leaves that grow in thick clumps, this is an attractive and often overlooked plant.
Best planted in spring or even grown indoors then transferred, this versatile and hardy plant can grow alongside other perennials with no problems.
Sporting thick, deep green leaves and small white flowers the Dropwort has been grown by gardeners for centuries and was even used as a medicine in the middle ages when people would brew the flower in tea. A member of the rose family and quite easy to grow, this is a good option for shady areas that are difficult to maintain because of overhanging branches or other structures.
Dropworts are quite a hardy plant and don’t usually require much maintenance, so as long you keep them well watered and free from weeds, there shouldn’t be any problems.
The charmingly entitled cherry pie plant or heliotrope produces gorgeous flowers that will bloom all summer long until the beginning of autumn. Generally white, purple or blue and smelling faintly of fruit, hence the name, this plant is best suited to either hanging baskets or shady areas.
Heliotropes do well when planted indoors and grown under special hydroponic lights for around three months. Most gardeners do this before the final spring frost and then transfer them to fertile, well-maintained soil. Keep them at least 1 foot apart and ensure to cut off any dead flowers to keep them thriving.
Impatiens, also known as the “Bizzy Lizzie” by some gardeners, is known for its delicate seed pods and flowers that can burst at the slightest touch when they are fully ripe. Usually pinkish and red in colour, they have a distinctive flower & can grow up to 30 inches tall.
Like many plants of its kind, impatiens are best planted after the very last frost in spring, ideally in quite rich soil that has good drainage and is full of plenty of nutrients. Many people also grow this type of flower indoors as a houseplant before transferring to their garden in the warmer months.
As you can see, there are plenty of beautiful and diverse plants to choose from when it comes to brightening up shady areas of the garden, so there’s need to let spots like that go uncared for. Using a combination of leafy, bushy plants and eye-catching flowers can transform unremarkable and neglected parts of your garden into attractive and vibrant sections of the colour of life.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.