What to Plant Now: Shade Plants

Shade might seem like a liability when you want to grow flowers, but a garden that doesn't get a lot of sun can still be full of blossoms and color. Any of the following shade-loving varieties can be combined for a lush border; they can also planted individually to fill in a blank spot or in clusters to create a big splash.

Photo by nkbimages courtesy iStock.

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) Perennial


– Tolerates very deep shade

– Provides great spring color towards the end of bulb season (after the narcissus and tulips fade)

– Creates height and volume (ideal for middle to back of border)

– Goes dormant once temperatures rise




Image by tacojim, courtesy iStcok

Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) Perennial


– Very reliable and semi-evergreen

– Presents a beautiful copper color on new growth

– Introduces delicate texture in a garden without being fragile





Dwarf False Spirea "Pumila" (Astilbe var. pumila) Perennial


– Offers easy-to-grow early-summer color

– Has purple flowers that make a nice alternative to the traditional red/pink/white varieties

– Works as a taller groundcover



Image courtesy US Perennials.

Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) Perennial


– Tolerates deep shade

– Great late-summer bloomer

– Provides drama from height as opposed to color (easily grows 4' to 6' tall)






Image by seven75, courtesy iStock.

Skip Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus "Schipkaensis") Evergreen shrub


– Requires little maintenance

– Grow quickly

– Has smooth, dark green foliage

– Makes a great screen, but needs protection from wind





Image courtesy Morning Sky Greenery.

New Jersey Tea Bush (Ceanothus americanus) Flowering, deciduous shrub


– Prefers part shade

– Works well in smaller spaces or towards the front-middle of a border

– Has fragrant flowers in late spring and early summer

– Attracts pollinators





Image by Peter Haynes, courtesy iStock.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) Flowering, deciduous tree


– A woodland native that can take considerable shade or sun

– Produces fuschia flowers in early spring, then grows large, heart-shaped leaves

– Provides vibrant gold fall color

– Works well in small spaces (usually tops out between 15"–20")