A lot of gardeners hate the word “shade”. It keeps them awake at night wondering how to get anything to bloom or grow. For so long we have been conditioned to believe that pretty things only grow in the bright sunshine. It just isn’t true! Some of the most beautiful and enduring gardens in the world thrive in partial to deep shady conditions, and yours can too. The secret is easy… simply choose the right plants for shade! Here are TGG’s picks for 7 gorgeous shade loving plants that any gardener can grow!




Golden Japanese Forest Grass

This shade loving plant is a grass that is amazing as a ground cover or a focal point in the shady garden. Be aware, if planted in the sun, some varieties can be a bit invasive. Look for the name “Aureola” or “Golden”. Loves moist soil and is deer resistant, looks ah-mazing planted with blue-green hostas. Grows to about 18 inches by 18 inches. Photo by ‘Monrovia‘.

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Sweet Woodruff

An old fashioned favorite, it is a tough, drought resistant, fast spreading ground cover. If you have a shady, difficult spot to cover, and you want it to look carpeted with fresh green topped with delicate white flowers in May and June… well, this is the shade loving plant for you. And let’s face it, aren’t we used to having plants in the shade that just don’t thrive and spread? Fill in those areas quickly with Sweet Woodruff! Oh, and they smell great! Photo by ‘White Flower Farm‘.

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Lenten Rose, Hellebore

We love Lenten Rose for a couple of reasons… First off, it’s pretty much evergreen down to zone 5. Second, the blooms are incredibly exquisite in shape, form and color. Third, they bloom in late winter and early spring! They are a low grower, around 12 inches tall, and are rabbit resistant. They come in pinks, reds, whites, greens, black and even a yellow! GORGEOUS! Photo by ‘Bluestone Perennials‘.

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Wild Ginger

Gorgeous foliage shade loving plant that varies from variety to variety from glossy, almost round leaves, to textured longer leaves marked with white or silver. They love rich, moist soil and are evergreen in most climates. And they do bloom, but the flowers are inconspicuous, these plants are known for their foliage. Spreading slowly, they are long lived. Fun fact : This plant was collected by Lewis and Clark as a native plant of the West worth noticing! Photo by ‘White Flower Farm‘.

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Endless Summer Hydrangea

Ok, now you need something bigger? A shrub, perhaps? We all know about Hydrangeas, but this is a breakthrough above and beyond the ordinary. Endless Summer Hydrangeas can now be grown even in the northern states, and get this… they bloom ALL SUMMER! And just look at that bloom! Partial to dappled shade is best for these shade loving plants, afternoon shade in the South. Love. This. Plant. Three to five feet high and as wide, this shade loving shrub doesn’t sacrifice bloom size either, with 8-10 inch blooms! Either color works for me! Photo by ‘Wayside Gardens‘.

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Coral Bells

Another variety grown mostly for their foliage, Coral Bells do have stalks of pink or white flowers that appear in summer over low growing foliage. Their leaves can be red, silver, purple, green or bronze. Give afternoon shade in warm climates, especially for the more vividly colored leaves. Keep moist for the best plant health. Grows 12-24 inches tall and wide. Photo by ‘White Flower Farm‘.

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Autumn Fern

Ferns can seem pretty boring in the shade garden world, but this variety of Autumn Fern (Brilliance) is freakin’ cool. It is an evergreen fern with fronds 2 feet long, and changes color with the temperatures of the season! Coppery in spring, deep green in summer and fiery orange in fall, this plant thrives in even deep shade. It can be planted under trees, and once established after the first year, can get by on neglect.  This may be the perfect shade loving plant! Photo by ‘Wayside Gardens‘.

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So, do you have a favorite shade plant? Photo by ‘HGTV‘.

7 Gorgeous Shade Loving Plants

Did you enjoy reading about our favorite shade loving plants? Then try our posts on Perennials for Shade that Bloom All Summer and Hanging Baskets : Secrets the Pros Use!



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  1. Petra November 25, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    Will autumn fern take frost? I live in Tasmania and get a lot of frosts…. but I love the idea of this for shady spots…. thanks!

    1. Kathy Bates January 24, 2021 at 4:16 pm

      Autumn fern is evergreen in frost-free areas and is semi-evergreen to deciduous in other areas depending on the severity of winter temperatures. Cheers!

  2. Amy March 2, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Hosta’s are wonderful plants and easy to grow . These are some beautiful plants. Thanks for the pictures and ideas!

  3. Katrina Freed July 8, 2016 at 1:41 am

    We have deer and they love all the hosta we planted before we had deer. So ten years later we are replacing all the hosta with some of the plants mentioned here. We live in Delaware and the soil is clay and rock so it is a challenge. Some of our favorites are ferns, Brunera, and ligularia Brit Marie Crawford, and top of the list Lenten roses aka hellebore.

  4. Paula June 8, 2016 at 7:41 am

    I actually have everything mentioned here except the Japanese Forest Grass(which I’ve wanted for a few years but no good spot yet). I have had two Endless Summer Hydrangeas for several years and they just don’t do much. More like Endless Bummer. Haven’t given up on them yet but my other hydrangeas (Nikko Blue & Annnabelle) make me muxh happier.

    1. James Miller February 26, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Take a spade, cut the roots off 8″ away from the plant in 3 different spots.
      It will feel threatened and try to reproduce.
      Water with a couple banana peels and eggshells soaked in water for a day in a 7 liter water container.

  5. paulajwray March 24, 2016 at 8:28 am

    I enjoy your website. It would be helpful if you could list the zones for which the plants you feature are appropriate. Thanks for considering this suggestion.

    1. Kathy Woodard April 11, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion, actually most of the time, we do just that! We definitely should update this post with zones…

    2. Don Schiller June 15, 2016 at 5:10 am

      I agree. Looking at pictures doesn’t do me much good if I can’t tell if it will grow in my northern area.


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