Many flowers and plants need the continuous gleam of sunlight to bloom, but several others are perfect for gardens with a lot of shade. If you want to grow plants in a shady area, find out what the 15 best shade loving plants are.

Gardeners are always on the lookout for beautiful shade-loving perennials. Some of these plants grow very tall while others remain at average heights and are close to the ground with special features. Without the sun, they’ll spark the dark corners in your garden adding a lovely splash of color.

Before deciding to grow plants in shady areas it’s important that you observe the shade conditions. The quality of shade in your garden can help you decide which plants are best. There are three main types of shade:

Full shade is where there is little or no direct sunlight. This is often seen under overhanging conifers or a canopy of thick trees.

Dappled shade is found where branches block most but not all streams of sunlight lasting for up to three hours per day.

Partial shade is an area that receives between 3 to 6 hours of sunlight on a cloudless day.

After observing the shade in your garden it’s time to find the plants you’d like. Here are 15 of the best shade-loving plants you can add to your garden for a little visual excitement.


closeup of astilbe

Astilbe is a clump-forming plant with plume-like flowers. They grow with a variety of flashy foliage colors such as dark green, wine red, bronze, pale green, and blue-green.

They are often planted where there is full or partial shade but the key to flourishing Astilbe is water. Use loamy or well-drained soil and they’ll need moisture so mulch around the plant to keep it moist. It’s best to water them when necessary if the rain doesn’t fall once a week.

Bellflower (Campanula)

Bellflowers are cheery perennial flowers that will happily bob to the wind and thrive best in full sun and partial shade.

With clusters of pretty lavender, blue or white bell-shaped flowers, and green leaves, these bloom from summer to autumn.

Low level growing Campanulas are also excellent for ground cover. There’s no need to spend excessive time watering this plant as it also flourishes in periods of drought. A variety of bellflowers include:

  • Bluebells
  • Dwarf bellflowers
  • American bellflowers
  • Scotch bellflowers

Coral Bells

Coral Bells also called Heuchera are perennial plants that bloom beautifully in spring to the early parts of summer. They’re best grown in well-draining soil.

The wispy stalks and petite flowers have many color shades. Foliage for this plant grows in a variety of colors including purple, coral red, plum, and taupe.

Coral bells are preferably grown in areas with partial shade as excessive sunlight can burn the foliage. Do not overwater the plant as excessively damp soil may cause disease that affects its growth.

Dogtooth Violet

The Dogtooth Violet or Trout Lily is a perennial wildflower that produces frail-looking petals that hang downward.

The yellow, white, or violet blooms widen with daylight and close in the evenings. Birds and bees are highly attracted to the nectar in the flowers too.

This shade-loving flower thrives under the dappled shade of woodland and needs protection from harsh sunlight. Layering mulch at the roots will keep it cool and help to maintain moisture.

Euphorbia (Spurge)

The Euphorbia plant is a long-lived and incredibly showy partial shade-loving plant. This clump-forming perennial is excellent for borders, containers, and cottage gardens.

The flattened yellow petals glow in spring and are impressively resilient to many pests, diseases, and drought.

Though it sure does love the sun Euphorbia will survive in partial shade with dry or well-drained soils including rocks or sand. They will grow up to 18 inches and self-seed. The plant is considered toxic and should not be ingested.

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

foxglove plant

Foxgloves are tall and slender growing biennials meaning they spend their first year growing foliage and the second year producing flowers before they die.

No need to be alarmed! Foxgloves self-seed each season, so you’ll have plenty more flowers year after year. This woodland plant grows wonderfully in loamy soil and partial or dappled shade which protects them from wilt.

They bloom in early summer with floral spikes beautified by thickly packed flowers in white, pink, purple, red, and yellow. I find it to be one of the easiest and most reliable shade-loving plants to grow.


Hellebores are one of the earliest sets of plants to bloom in winter to early spring with flowers that resemble wide roses. They’re also called Winter Rose and Lenton Rose.

The petals have an array of colors blooming in purple, pink, yellow, white, or red. They love full to partial shade although they’re fairly tolerable of sunlight in the cool weather.

Ensure you water the roots lightly, grow them in rich moist soil and watch as their beautiful colors perk up your garden.


Hosta is among many gardeners’ favorite shade-loving plants. They are incredibly long-lived, low maintenance, and feature broad leaves in different shapes, sizes, and textures.

The foliage can be a single color or diverse including white, yellow, and green. Few Hosta plants grow well under excessive sunlight.

To grow them in shade depends on the color. A rule you can follow is the lighter the color of the foliage the brighter the sun needed for white and yellow.

The darker foliage retains its color best in the partial shade. They’ll be fully grown within four to eight years and tolerate almost any soil with proper drainage.


Hydrangea is a well-known favorite for home gardens with over 75 species. A beautiful plant with big leaves and large clusters of flowers in purple, blue, and pink.

If these plants are in the partial or full shade of your garden, they will grow without direct exposure to the sun. However, too little sunlight decreases the flower out-turn. The scorching sun will cause the plant to wilt but giving them extra water will allow them to rehydrate.

Lily of the Valley

The Lily of the Valley is a woodland plant with medium-sized green leaves and sweetly scented bell-shaped white flowers that bloom in spring.

These spread very quickly and thrive in both the sun and a full shade garden. The soil must be watered to remain moist. No parts of the plant should be ingested as it is considered poisonous.

Primrose (Primula)

Primroses are delicate, shade-loving plants that can be short-lived perennials, biennials, or annuals. They have small flowers in a wide variety of colors with dark green leaves and a sturdy stem.

They’re relatively low-maintenance and need consistent watering but not to the point of sogginess. A partially shaded garden will have primulas looking lovely all through spring.

Siberian Bugloss

Interested in a low maintenance partial shade-loving plant? The Siberian Bugloss also called Brunnera Macrophylla is an herbaceous perennial with heart-shaped leaves.

Its bright-colored blue flowers blossoms in spring resembling the Forget Me Not flowers. The bold and lustrous foliage has a rough, hairy texture.

Dry soil is to be avoided but rich, moist, and well-drained soil will have this thriving up to the early parts of summer.

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

snowdrop flowers

Snowdrop is a lovely plant growing in early spring with lovely white flower bulbs. It beautifies every garden from late winter to early spring and has a little fragrance embedded in the drooping flowers with a green area at the apex of each petal.

The foliage appears before the flowers and fades as spring comes to an end. Under favorable conditions, it will spread quickly and grow to a height of 8 to 10 inches.

It is critter resistant, free of diseases, and low maintenance so there’s no need for weeding. With well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade, this plant will regerminate year after year. Ingesting this plant may cause a slight tummy ache and skin irritation.

Windflower (Anemone Blanda)

Anemone referred to as Windflower is quite an easy perennial to grow. The simple poppy-like flowers bear roots in fall, winter, or spring and bloom ivory, blue, white flowers, and more within the first season.

They sway with the lightest breeze and grow through self-seeding. Some species are short-lived while others may grow for decades. With rich moist soil and a partial to fully shaded area in your garden, they’ll grow up to 6 inches tall.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Winter Aconites are a member of the Buttercup family. The golden-yellow flowers bear in the months of January and February.

They grow well under a partial shade with well-drained soil and can be tricky to establish, but once do they’ll spread naturally. If you’re aiming for this flower to spread minimal disturbance of the soil is best.

If any of the 15 beautiful shade loving plants listed above are of interest to you, it’s important that you do further research on how to grow and care for them.

Other related gardening articles:

  1. 10 Organic Gardening Hack That Will Make Your Leaf Easier
  2. Growing Strawberries In A Raised Garden
  3. How To Grow Lettuce
  4. Herb Gardening For Beginners
  5. Benefits Of A Community Garden

Want to learn more about gardening? Feel free to check out my other blog posts for more information.

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