Are shady spots in your garden uninteresting and monotonous? They don’t have to be! Actually, some of the most beautiful perennials bloom best in the shade. When you start looking into shade plants, you quickly discover what a surprising wealth of possibilities they provide.
A ‘shade garden’ or ‘shade in the garden’?
Do you have a shade garden or shade in your garden? What’s the difference? A real shade garden admits sunlight for no longer than two hours a day. But ‘shade in the garden’ is a different matter. Often, it’s not a question of deep shade but the presence of surrounding buildings or tall plantings that keep out some of the light. Usually, these gardens receive a number of hours of sun a day. If they get four hours of sunlight, this is referred to as ‘partial shade’. Fortunately, there are enough perennials that will happily thrive in shady locations and make them beautiful!
Top 10 shade plants
Many perennials feel right at home in cool moist shady locations. Here is a list of our top 10 shade plants:
- Monkscap (Aconitum)
- Lungwort (Pulmonaria)
- Barrenwort (Epimedium)
- Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
- Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)
- Christmas Rose (Helleborus orientalis)
- Ferns (Polystichum)
- Plantain (Hosta)
- Caucasian Forget-me-not (Brunnera)
- Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum)
But you also want your garden to look pretty in the winter. Planting ferns, ornamental grasses and evergreen groundcovers will eliminate bare spots and keep your garden looking attractive throughout the year. And the choice of these plants is huge: too many to mention here.
Perennials for dry shade
Shady locations that are also dry are difficult for many perennials to handle. With a little creativity, however, you can still find some bright eye-catching shade plants for these situations. Groundcovers in particular will thrive here; for one thing, this is because they help retain moisture in the soil.
- A good example is the Lily-of-the Valley (Convallaria majalis). Its little white bells with their absolutely wonderful fragrance will delight both the eyes and the nose.
- Another favourite groundcover is the Cranesbill (Geranium) that produces colourful flowers to brighten up shady spots in the summer. Particularly recommended are two evergreen species: Geranium macrorrhizum and Geranium nodosum.
- Despite its delicate little flowers, it would be hard to find a tougher plant than the Barrenwort (Epimedium). This evergreen plant will thrive in places where most plants would simply give up.
- The Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum) is another beautiful choice for dry shady locations.
- And don’t forget the Labrador Violet (Viola labradorica) either.
- Adding compost, which is rich in humus, will keep dry soil moist and help retain nutrients to keep plants healthy.
- Mulching dry soil with organic material such as compost, wood chips or tree bark is important for reducing evaporation.