Shade-Loving Plants for the Garden

Last Updated on 13/04/2021 by Shannen Godwin

Do you have a shaded area in your garden where it seems like nothing will grow there? Full shade areas can look dreary but don’t worry, there are plants to suit every garden, and all you need is a little creativity. From ground cover to perennial flowers and grasses, check out our favourite shade-loving plants to add to any shaded spot in the garden.

Is my garden full shade or partial shade?

To grow healthy plants in shady areas, it is important to match the degree of shade that a plant needs or will tolerate with available light.

Partial Shade: A garden with half sun and half shade. There is some direct sun but for less than half the hours of daylight.

Full Shade: Under trees, shrubs, and  buildings. Less than 2 hours of direct sun a day.


Looking for a beautiful perennial to brighten up a shaded spot? Acanthus mollis Whitewater produces tall spikes of white flowers against their backdrop of dark green variegated foliage; a perfect addition to borders or large patio containers.

This fascinating clump-forming perennial produces mint scented flowers in a deep purple shade. Monarda Blaustrumpf makes the perfect addition for flower beds and borders and thrive in semi or full shade where other perennials may struggle.

Geranium Versicolor is ideal for borders or patio pots to add striking and unusual blooms to your garden with their vivid pink veined white flowers. These beautiful shade-loving plants are great for brightening up a dark space.

Ground Cover

Not all Euphorbias do well in shade but Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ is an exception. This rapid growing ground cover plant produces amazing dark purple foliage with lime-green flowers in Spring. Ideal for borders, patio pots or containers.

This reliable evergreen shrub is perfect for bringing some colour to shady areas. Vinca major Variegata produces pretty violet-blue flowers from late spring in to summer; a perfect plant for growing anywhere in the garden, even underneath trees.

These charming evergreen clumps of scalloped leaves come in every colour under the sun. Here we’ve picked out Heuchera Lime Marmalade, Heuchera Creme Brulee and Heuchera Berry Smoothie as our top recommendations for their vibrant hues. Heuchera are amazing for ground cover, borders or in front of shrubs.


Asplenium scolopendrium is an evergreen fern with luscious upright green foliage. This hardy evergreen needs little attention in the garden, provides colour all year round and can even be grown in woodland/under trees or shady borders.

With a mass of golden yellow leaves and striking red stems, this exotic Athyrium Vidalii is guaranteed to provide a dash of unique colouring to even the shadiest parts of the garden. Beautiful shade-loving plants for adding texture to the garden all year round.

An RHS award-winning evergreen. This beautiful foliage plant will bring a touch of exotic colour to your garden with their vivid copper-bronze tinted fronds. Perfect for shaded borders or containers.


Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’s’ extraordinarily eye-catching green leaves with bright orange tips change into a dark orange colour with brown flowers in the summer time. This stunning evergreen perennial grass is perfect for containers or a shady border.

With stunning needle-like leaves, Festuca Golden Toupee produces grey-green leaves that turn a bright yellow in the spring. Great for adding stunning vibrant hues to shaded spots. This versatile grass is ideal for containers, in gravel, in the border or alongside other grasses.


Brighten up any shady spot with Anemones. These joyful, daisy-like blooms flower in beautiful shades of blue, pink and white. Perfect for a rockery or spring-flowering containers.

With pointed green leaves and slender, soft yellow bells that drop from its branched stems, Uvularia grandiflora makes a great addition to pots, containers and this variety even makes excellent cut flowers. This hardy perennial excels in partial or full shade.

A smooth cocktail of colours, purple buds opening to apricot, with rose shadings. Geum Mai Tai have fuzzy, dark green pinnate leaves and erect purple stems holding the semi double flowers. These hardy perennial plants will flower all summer from June right through to September and are suitable for partial shaded borders in the garden.


American Ivy brings a douse of colour to the garden with their reddish-bronze foliage. A vigorous shade-loving climber that can add beauty to any wall, trellis or building.

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8 thoughts on “Shade-Loving Plants for the Garden”

  1. Hi ,i need some help please on what to grow bloom wise in my garden as it appears to be ericasious – we moved here 2 years ago . There are well established amazing Camillias , Azaleas and a few other acid loving shrubs but i really would like an abundance of bright colour .

    1. Hi Deborah, summer flowering heather provide a wealth of colour in ericaceous soil, as well as begonias, Ceanothus and hydrangeas which will help your garden bloom to life with stunning acid-loving flowers. Thanks for your question!

    1. Hi there, there are a few options. Pear trees will crop when planted in partial shade but they do need some sun. Our pear variety ‘Beth’ should do fine in a west-facing spot where they’ll get a few hours of sun in the afternoon. Also plums such as ‘Czar’ are your best shaded option and can be grown in spots that get morning sun and afternoon shade. Thanks for your question!

  2. Are there any plants which would be ok in large containers in north-facing shade? We also get salt winds so they would need to be quite hardy, plus some colour would be appreciated as it is at the front of the house.

    1. Hi Sue, the Tricyrtis Mixed (Japanese Toad Lily) is a great hardy option for containers. Another great option is Monarda (Bee Balm) for a burst of colour. Thanks for your question!

  3. I have a patch of garden facing south west , with no buildings blocking the garden- could you suggest fruit and flowering plants for this spot please

    1. Hi there, there are many options for fruits in shade sun. Our Apple Laxtons Superb, Apple Greensleeves and Plum Victoria would work great by the sounds of your location. 🙂 Thanks for your question!

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