One of the most difficult growing conditions for perennials is dry shade. Not only are the plants that grow in dry shade already stressed from not having much light, but they also have to compete with other large plants for soil moisture.

Read More about Dry Shade Plants

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More Information About Dry Shade Plants

One of the most difficult conditions in the garden for plants is dry shade. Not only are dry shade plants already stressed from not having much light, but they also have to compete with other large plants for soil moisture. It takes a special plant to be a dry shade plant. We have assembled a list of plants for dry shade below that tolerate dry shade well in our climate. For those in cooler climates, your list would be quite a bit longer, since the hot daytime temperatures aren't as severe.

Keep in mind that just because a perennial plant is tolerant of dry shade doesn't mean that it will grow forever without adequate moisture. A good rule of thumb is that plants with smaller, thicker foliage can survive the longest in dry shade conditions. Also, the more established the plants are, the better they can tolerate drought. In our trials, plants like cyclamen, danae, ruscus, arum and dracunculus top the list of dry shade plants. Right behind are ophiopogon, liriope, sarcococca, hedera, aspidistra, sabal palms, tetrapanax, clumping bamboos, and aucuba. Hellebores, rohdea, and pachysandra are also drought-tolerant, but less so than the first two lists.

Some of our favorite plants for dry shade include:

  • Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plants) - One of our all-time favorites. Deer-resistant and shade-tolerant, there is a reason we have over 200 different varieties.
  • Cyclamen (Hardy Cyclamen) - These small fall/winter growing perennials absolutely thrive in the shady, dry conditions found underneath large deciduous trees and conifers.
  • Danae (Poet's Laurel) - A slow-growing evergreen shrub with amazing shade tolerance.
  • Liriope (Monkey Grass) - This drought-tolerant grass-like perennial is actually a member of the lily family but we love using it as an ornamental grass.
  • Ophiopogon (Mondo Grass) - A wonderful ornamental grass with many dwarf and variegated forms to choose from.
  • Pyrrosia (Tongue Fern) - Deer-resistant and drought-tolerant, these un-fern-like ferns make great accents at the edge of a dry shade garden where they can get partial sun.
  • Ruscus (Butcher's Broom) - Another evergreen choice with great drought tolerance. They also produce bright red berries that add a splash of garden to your shade garden.
  • Sarcococca (Sweetbox) - An evergreen dry-shade perennial that produces small, fragrant blooms in the winter when other dry-shade perennials are dormant.

Also, see all of our shade tolerant plants or just the wet shade plants.

Check out our article entitled 'Gardening in the Shade' that describes many cool plants for dry shade.