11 Best Shade Tolerant Plants

Best Shade Tolerant Plants
Photo by Matt

Allow the shadiest corners of your garden to shine with beauty by planting the best shade tolerant plants! More than often, we often dismiss the shady spots as potential planting areas.

However, there are many shade-loving plants that you can include in your garden ideas to create impressive displays in these shade areas.

Identify your lighting conditions by keeping an eye on various garden sections throughout the day to make sure you choose the appropriate plants for your garden.

Part shade indicates an area gets approximately 4-6 hours of direct sun, but mostly before noon; full shade means an area never gets direct sunlight or only gets some morning sun.

This is important to know because the morning sun is preferable to the afternoon sun for many shade lovers because it’s less intense.

Here are our 11 favourite shade plants for every type of garden; let’s go!

1. False Goat’s Beard

These tough perennials produce mounds of glossy, fern-like foliage that unfolds in the spring in a bronze tone before turning a dark green colour.

Mid to late summer brings about the arrival of large flower panicles, which rise above the foliage before gently drooping.

The panicles are adorned with numerous tiny blooms in pink, purple, or white, depending on the plant variety.

These plants are simple to grow and require little maintenance. They perform well in shady gardens since they do well in either partial or total shade.

They prefer constantly moist soil that drains effectively and has a high proportion of organic matter. These plants must not be allowed to dry out, and mulching would help retain moisture.

They thrive in containers or borders and do well in moist, humid environments like those beside ponds or streams.

2. Siberian Bugloss

This is among the best shade tolerant plants. This deciduous perennial creates dense clumps of intriguing foliage ranging from creamy pale green to neon lime green.

The heart-shaped leaves have thick veining and add some vibrant colour to shady and dark areas of landscapes.

In addition to its lovely foliage, this plant produces bursts of exquisite flowers in the spring. Rhizomes that creep underground help the plant spread slowly.

Siberian bugloss is a versatile plant that can be grown as a single specimen in pots or borders or as a ground cover over time.

If you don’t want additional Siberian bugloss, make sure to deadhead the spent flowers because they will go to seed and easily reseed to produce new plants.

Grow this plant in organically dense, well-draining soil. Keep the plants in a shaded spot and ensure the soils are not allowed to dry up. These plants prefer cool weather and cannot survive in hot or dry circumstances.

3. Camellia

These evergreen shrubs are among the best shade tolerant plants. They range in size from eight to fifteen feet in mature height, depending on the variety.

Contrary to popular opinion, they have moderate growth habits and are really easy to raise.

These plants feature slender, glossy, dark green leaves that stay beautiful all year round. Late winter is when flowers begin to blossom, and they continue until spring. Blooms can be single, semi-double, or fully double and resemble peonies.

They come in various colours, and some can have flowers up to five inches across. While some camellias like full light, many thrive in partial or complete shade.

Avoid letting these plants dry out and grow them in well-draining soil. They should be shielded from chilly breezes and kept out of harsh sunlight.

4. Coral Bells

Coral bells are also among the best shade tolerant plants on this list. These perennial plants are cultivated for their beautiful foliage, which ranges in colour from lime green to bright orange or purple.

The shapes of leaves vary, but they are all broad with rounded edges, some of which are ruffled or curled.

Since they are semi-evergreen, these plants keep their vibrant colours throughout the growing season.

Coral bells also sprout tall panicles of tiny white flowers in the late spring or early summer. Although some of these plants can grow in direct sunlight, most prefer shade.

If you want to add some beautiful coral bells to your shady locations, look for a type that enjoys the shade.

These plants prefer rich, well-draining soil that is kept moist for younger plants but allowed to dry out when they reach maturity.

They can be used in rock gardens, beds and borders, containers, and even as ground cover due to their versatility.

5. Plantain Lily

You can also include this perennial plant among the best shade tolerant plants. Most varieties of leaves have glossy or satin-smooth foliage, and they are typically big and oval in shape.

The colour of the leaves can range from gold to blue to different shades of green, and many types are variegated with cream flashes.

These plants are cultivated for their attractive foliage, but they bloom in the summer. The tall racemes that extend from the leaf clusters bear purple or blue blooms.

Though some types do better in the shade than others, these plants are a fantastic option for bringing colour to dark-shaded areas.

These plants are not picky about soil type and will thrive in various soil types, though they need well-draining and regularly moist soil.

6. Japanese Spurge

This perennial plant spreads through underground runners to create a thick carpet above the soil line. It’s also among the best shade tolerant plants and has a creepy nature.

Thanks to its strong and intricate root structure, it is perfect for use as ground cover and is used to prevent soil erosion on slopes.

This shrubby, low-growing plant can reach a full size of up to one foot; however, it usually develops to be a few inches less.

It is excellent for quickly filling in bare gaps between plants since it will later spread widthwise to a size that is roughly double its height.

This plant has shiny, deep green foliage. In the spring, it produces small spikes of creamy white flowers, although these are often disregarded.

Japanese spurge grows well in partial or complete shade and is ideal for planting behind larger shrubs or trees. It may grow in any situation, including dry and clay soil.

Although the plant is drought-tolerant, it thrives in constantly moist soils; therefore, your goal should be to prevent the soil from drying up after it has reached maturity.

7. Lungwort

This perennial plant is also among the best shade tolerant plants on this list. They are semi-evergreen in colder regions and evergreen in areas with warmth.

Depending on their variety, you can see them with their trumpet-shaped flowers in bright pink, blue, or purple colours.

Flowers often begin to bloom early in the spring, and to keep the plant appearing tidy, flowering stems should be pruned after the blooms have faded.

The plant is still lovely after it has bloomed because of its substantial tufts of dark green foliage.

It spreads slowly because of its creeping roots. It will typically expand to a width of around two feet, which is double the size of its height.

Although lungwort is frequently used as a ground cover, it also looks great in borders and containers.

Furthermore, it flourishes in partial or complete shade and a soil that is regularly moist and well-draining. It does not tolerate extreme heat well and does best in the shade, where it can stay cool.

8. Maidenhair Fern

If you’re still looking for the best shade tolerant plants, maidenhair fern is a great option. It is grown for its beautiful foliage, which is composed of fronds with a swordlike form.

These fronds contain a wiry central spine from which triangular pinnules in vivid green are organized in a row. The fronds spread out at horizontal angles to create a loose rosette shape.

This plant offers landscapes a lush, exotic feel, and like most ferns, it does best in the shade. It works especially well in naturally moist habitats like those near a stream or pond. It is perfect for adding some interest to dark and dull areas of the garden.

This fern should be grown in well-draining soil because it requires moist soil but won’t tolerate soggy or wet conditions.

It should be kept out of direct sunshine, especially in the afternoons, as it may suffer from burned leaves during the summer.

9. Carpet Bugle

Carpet bugle is also among the best shade tolerant plants. These evergreen perennials have a robust growth habit that quickly forms a carpet of rosettes while clinging to the ground.

New foliage grows in rich bronze in the spring before changing to a dark green colour. The leaves have a leathery texture and are thick and closely packed together.

Also, spikes of blue blooms with a lovely lavender colour appear in the spring. The flowers bloom so abundantly that they virtually make their own carpet.

Although the carpet bugle’s flowers are quite lovely, most gardeners grow this plant primarily for its lovely foliage and for its usage as ground cover.

It is especially useful for filling spaces between other plants under the shade of trees or bushes because of its rapid growth habit and brilliant foliage.

In addition, it is helpful to stop erosion on slopes and banks and works well in containers. Although it can grow in almost any soil, including clay, this plant does not do well in dry soil.

It will also adapt to various lighting situations as long as the soil is consistently moist, but it likes shade and grows best in dim, moist surroundings.

Carpet bugle requires relatively little maintenance and can even be quickly mowed after flowering to get rid of the flower stems.

10. Wood Anemone

This is a beautiful plant among the best shade tolerant plants. It is a dwarf variety that rarely grows taller than ten inches but spreads to a width of more than two feet. It spreads underground by using rhizomes and has a creeping nature.

In the right conditions, this plant will grow easily and form colonies in patches that resemble dense carpeting.

Although wood anemone is mostly planted for their flowers, it also has delicate-looking medium-green leaves.

Early to mid-spring sees the arrival of the flowers, which are carried on upright stalks that are slightly taller than the mat of foliage.

Flowers are single blooms that are mostly white but can occasionally include purple or other coloured flushes, depending on the variety.

Flowers respond strongly to the sun, droop, and close up on dull days. They will stand at attention on sunny days with their faces wide open, following the path of the sun.

This plant produces an abundance of adorable star-shaped flowers when it blooms abundantly. It requires constantly wet soil during the growing seasons and does best in full or partial shade.

The plant will go into dormancy when the summertime temperatures rise, though it can tolerate some dryness in this condition. It prefers soil that is rich, acidic, and well-draining.

To keep the soil moist, mulching is advised. When touching this plant, exercise caution because its sap might irritate the skin.

11. Hardy Begonia

Last on this list of the best shade tolerant plants is the hardy begonia. This evergreen perennial creates leafy mounds that resemble maple leaves.

These plants are grown primarily for their gorgeous foliage, which comprises dark green leaves with accents of pale green and white.

They also have attractive flowers bloom in the late summer on upright stems that rise above the surrounding foliage.

These low-maintenance plants thrive in shaded garden spaces and can endure the entire year in warm climates.

They require consistently moist soil that shouldn’t be allowed to dry up and, ideally, should be mulched to keep moisture.

Also, they spread out similarly in size and swiftly grow to heights of up to three feet. Maintain adequate circulation around the plants to protect against disease.


There you have it – 11 best shade tolerant plants. With the proper location and care, these plants can provide season-long enjoyment even for inexperienced gardeners. Thanks for reading!

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