The Best Shade Plants

The Best Shade Plants

For the Perennial Woodland Garden

By Published September 21, 2014 Updated June 21, 2022

Welcome to Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens. We are a private research and display botanic garden located near Raleigh, North Carolina (USDA Hardiness Zone 7b). Our retail mail order division allows us to make the best perennials from our trials available to gardeners around the world, some of which were developed here, some from our plant explorations, and others from breeders around the world. Between 1988 and 2010, Plant Delights Nursery introduced over 500 new perennial plants to US horticulture. In 2002, we were honored to be recognized by the American Horticulture Society for our lifetime of work in commercial horticulture. This image gallery is but a sampling of the great perennial plants available for gardeners around the world. We do not carry all plants pictured at any one time, but since our mission is to educate and inspire, we hope these images and the linked articles below will expand your garden horizons and interest. You will find an array of other interesting information and fascinating perennials throughout our website...thank you for taking time to visit.

If you are a frustrated gardener with a lot of shade, what seems like a challenge is actually an opportunity to grow some pretty interesting shade plants! When you plant shop online you will find a wide choice of plants to buy for your sun-challenged garden beds.

Hostas are the first group of perennials shade gardeners turn to and with good reason. The choice of leaf texture, size and shape is enormous and leaf color varies from a dusty blue to bright gold. If you are looking for variegated foliage, hostas will wow you with seemingly endless combinations of greens, cream, blue, gold and white. Hostas are easy to divide and easy to grow plus some varieties have fragrant flowers, too.

Ferns are great companions to hostas, and for an unusually textural example, you might consider the lacy cat's claw fern, onychium. Originally from Australia and New Zealand, the 6" Doodia australis, or rasp fern, covers dappled woodland areas with attractive, thick, dark green fronds. Great groundcover shade plants are pachysandra, tiarella and vinca. Most often grown as a house plant, aspidistra (cast iron plant) is a great vertical accent for southern shade gardens. Colocasias are not only for sunny areas...the 18", nicely patterned colocasia fallax prefers a shadier spot and spreads nicely with adequate moisture. For that hard to fill dry site, epimedium is the perfect shade plant.

The edgeworthia chrysantha will perfume your garden in late winter with unusual pendent flowers, but when the leaves follow, it provides a graceful 8 ft focal point to a shady spot.

Keep in mind that not all shade plants need the same growing conditions and when shopping for plants online, choose plants that are a good fit with your garden's soil pH, moisture and light. Some plants prefer mostly shade but many "shade" plants actually need some sun to thrive, with most preferring morning sun with dappled afternoon shade.

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