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12 Best Shade Loving Plants for Your Garden

Use light colored plants such as Brunnera & Hosta to brighten up dark areas in the shade garden

For a low maintenance shade garden, select plants that are more widely adaptable to various degrees of light and soil conditions and are easy to grow and maintain.  Here’s a list of our top 12 favorites:


Add a zesty flower color you won’t find in other shade plants.  Visions is not only more drought tolerant than other varieties (It still needs plenty of water) it is the most fragrant of all Astilbes.


You’ll get beauty in flowers and 3 seasons of interest with shimming silver foliage of Jack Frost Brunnera – our hands down favorite and recent 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year Winner.  Brunnera competes fairly well with tree roots and is highly deer proof.

An array of Heuchera help line a pathway where light transitions from sun to shade. Some sun during the day help to bring out the luster in their foliage


Heucheras are one of the most diverse and colorful shade perennials.  Plant as a groundcover, intersperse between other plants.  (One of my favorite combination is Heuchera Southern Comfort with a blue hosta – oh, la, la!)


The Arnold Schwarzenegger of all shade plants. Easy to grow in tough situations where other shade plants fail.

Hostas & Ferns create a cool and calming effect in my shade garden

Hostas grow well under a wide range of trees & shrubs and tolerate a variety of soils. They will grow bigger with amended soil & good drainage. There is nothing like a combination of sizes, colors and shapes for a WOW effect.


An iron clad deer-proof plant that tolerates dry shade once established. Stunning late winter blooms. A super groundcover offering  a year round carpet of evergreen foliage.  You’ll won’t want to miss the all new Winter Thriller Hellebores.


Their elegant and fine texture of ferns pair well with Heucheras, Brunnera & Hostas. They need consistent moisture to do well and is a must have for any shade garden.


This much-loved flowering shrub is a favorite for many gardeners. Hydrangeas add a much needed height to the shade garden while providing year round beauty.

Ornamental Grasses

Carex & Hakonechloa our the favorites providing season long interesting. Both deer proof and tolerant of moisture.


The fuzzy silver spotted leaves of Pulmonaria are not appealing to deer while

Pulmonaria Raspberry Splash fuzzy silver spotted leaves deer don't like but stay handsome spring-fall

brightening up dark spots. Not for the dry garden.

Tiarella (Foamflower)

This little known gem is gaining in popularity.  Foamflower has exaggerated leaves that remain colorful spring-winter. Its slow running habit makes an ideal groundcover.

Shade gardening can be just as beautiful as a sunny perennial garden and often with much care and you’ll get to appreciate the best thing about shade – a perfect place to unwind after a long hectic day.

Need more inspiration?  Check out our Shade Perennial Garden Collections

3 Responses to “12 Best Shade Loving Plants for Your Garden”

  • rose:

    what shade plants will be good at the feet of rhodendrons? I want the bed to pretty and interesting all year thanks rose

  • Sandy:

    Bleeding hearts are good shade lovers

  • Sara:

    Thanks for the ideas, I hadn’t thought of half of these, they’re so pretty and they go so well together. Marvellous, I am inspired.

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