While all plants use sunlight as their energy source, many plants thrive in part shade to full shade. Part shade is lightly filtered sun, or 3-5 hours of morning sun, sometimes found on the east side of buildings and under the light shade of trees. Full shade is 1-3 hours of sun anytime during the day, usually on the north side of homes, between buildings, or under trees. Here are a few shade lovin’ plants to add to your landscape design.
Perennial Hostas offer bold foliage in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. They are happiest in bright, dappled shade, average soil and adequate moisture. Hosta blooms in lavender and white during summer. ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ has small, rounded leaves in a tight mound with lavender flowers on short scapes. Display beautifully in part shade to full shade in a low border edge as a groundcover or make a spectacle in a container.
Known for their durability and unbelievable range of foliage forms and colors, Heuchera also have dainty, bell-shaped flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies find irresistible. Well-drained soil is essential to success when growing perennial Heuchera. ‘Paris’ has striking white-veiled green leaves and large, deep rose-pink flowers. Blooms repeat until frost while foliage provides great fall color when ‘Paris’ is planted in part shade.
Attractive mounds of deeply-etched foliage provide the perfect backdrop for plume-like flower heads. Astilbes thrive in part shade, moist soil, and are stunning when massed or lining a perennial border. Deer and rabbit resistant ‘Red Sentinel’ has fragrant, scarlet plumes above dark foliage. The dry seed heads hold the reddish color.
Perennial ferns conjure up visions of cool, calm, and peaceful places. They add a relaxed feeling in any part shade to full shade garden with their graceful lines, forms and textures. Most ferns like moist, well-drained soil. ‘Pictum’ is one of the best loved ferns for its subtly blended gray-green and wine-red foliage. In good conditions, it will send up fronds all summer and into fall.
A deciduous shrub that grows well in part shade is Fothergilla. It can grow 4’-6’H by 4’-6’W in average soil. They have white bottle brush flower spikes in spring and long-lasting color. The blue-green leaves of ‘Blue Shadow’ typically turn to orange-red-yellow for fall color. Fothergilla can be planted in a hedge or border.
Mix and match a variety of plants in the shade, or plant one type in mass. There are many plant choices to invite one to walk to the garden. Add a bench to relax in the shade or a bright gazing ball to add a pop of color to a shady corner. Visit the Growing Place Learning Gardens at both locations for inspirational shade garden designs.