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Shade in the garden is inevitable. Some gardens have small pockets of shade amongst borders, and others have larger sections where trees or buildings block the sun. So, these shaded areas are an opportunity to display some beautiful sun-shy plants that are often passed by at the garden centre.

Before choosing your plants, determine what degree of shade you are working with. Is it dappled or full shade?  Also, check whether the soil underneath is dry or damp because this will help you to get the right type of plant for your shady spot.

Once you know what the conditions are, you don’t want the shaded spot to become too dark and gloomy. Therefore, it may be ideal to avoid adding plants that have lots of dark green foliage. The best way to achieve a colourful border all year round is to use the method of succession planting.

Succession planting means that the various things that you plant will be in flower at different times of the year.

So, here are some of the best shade loving plants for your garden and the season in which they flower…

Spring

TIARELLA CORDIFOLIA (FOAM FLOWER)

Firstly, for very dense shade, this deciduous foliage produces creamy white flowers in late spring. However, they will appreciate protection from excessive winter wet.

  • Sun – Full shade or partial shade
  • Position – North, West, or East-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Poorly-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Clay, chalk, or loam
Rose-petal-salad-2

LAMPROCAPNOS SPECTABILIS (BLEEDING HEART)

Secondly, this is a great choice for a very damp soiled area such as near a pond. The bleeding heart enjoys sheltered partial shade and blooms a wonderful purple pink in spring and summer.

  • Sun – Partial shade
  • Position – North, East, or West-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained or poorly-drained
  • Soil – Chalk, loam, or clay
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In addition, here are some other great options for spring flowering shade plants:

Erythronium californicum ‘White Beauty’, Helleborus x Hybridus ‘Harvington Pink’, Viola sororia ‘Freckles’, Primula Veris (cowslip primrose), Camellia japonica and Clematis ‘Blue Eclipse’.

Summer

CAMELLIA (CAMELLIA) ‘SPRING FESTIVAL’

Next up is a large evergreen that grows up to 4m tall, with lance-shaped leaves and semi-double pink flowers that will look right at home in a cottage garden or city courtyard.

  • Sun – Full shade or partial shade
  • Position – North, West, or East-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained or well-drained
  • Soil – Clay, sand or loam
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HYDRANGEA ANOMALA SUBSP. PETIOLARIS (CLIMBING HYDRANGEA)

Another versatile water-loving plant that comes in a variety of forms. You can use climbing hydrangeas to fill shady fence gaps. This hydrangea will climb independently on walls or fences too. Furthermore, the blossoms of delicate white flowers in summer are much loved by pollinators.

  • Sun – Partial shade, full sun, or full shade
  • Position – South, East, North, or West-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Sand, clay, or loam
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Some of my other favourite summer flowering shade loving plants include:

Tuberous begonias (begonia), Viola riviniana (common dog violet), Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’ and Hosta plantaginea (August lily).

Autumn

CYCLAMEN HEDERIFOLIUM (IVY-LEAVED CYCLAMEN)

For a splash of dainty colour in early autumn, plant this perennial flower in a dry, partially shaded area; for example underneath a tree. In addition, the flowers can be fragrant, and they grow to 2.5cm in width.

  • Sun – Partial shade
  • Position – North, East, South, or West-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered
  • Moisture – Well-drained
  • Soil – Sand, loam, clay, or chalk
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CROCUS NUDIFLORUS (AUTUMN CROCUS)

Handling both dappled shade and sunlight, the deciduous autumn crocus blooms in September or October. Very hardy, these plants work brilliantly at the front of a border where they grow to 10cm tall.

  • Sun – Partial shade or full sun
  • Position – East, South, or West-facing
  • Exposure – Sheltered or exposed
  • Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Clay, chalk, sand, or loam
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Some other brilliant options for autumn flowering shade plants you might like are:

Geranium ‘Sweet Heidy’, Saxifraga ‘Pink Haze’, Impatiens (busy Lizzie) ‘Divine Violet’, Tricyrtis hirta (Japanese toad lily) and Mahonia x media ‘Lionel Fortescue’.

Winter

GALANTHUS NIVALIS (SNOWDROPS)

Next is a classic winter flowering perennial. The snowdrop can be relied on to bloom even in a gloomy and dark the winter. So, find a moist and dappled spot for this much-loved nodding plant.

  • Sun – Partial shade
  • Position – South, North, West, or East-facing
  • Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained or well-drained
  • Soil – Sand, chalk, clay, or loam
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BERGENIA CORDIFOLIA (HEART-LEAF BERGENIA)

The Bergenia can be seen brightening your borders from January to April. They produce dark purple-tinged leaves in late winter and splashes of pink flowers in early spring. Without a doubt, these will add some texture to your borders.

  • Sun – Partial shade or full sun
  • Position – South, North, West, or East facing
  • Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
  • Moisture – Moist but well-drained
  • Soil – Sand, clay, chalk, or loam
Rose-petal-salad-2

Here’s a few more fabulous winter flowering plants that can be grown in shade:

Pulmonaria saccharata (Bethlehem sage), Camellia sasanqua ‘Plantation Pink’, Camellia japonica ‘Berenice Boddy’, Viburnum tinus ‘Lisarose’ and Geranium maderense (giant herb robert).

So, those are just a few of my favourite plants for shady areas in your garden. But there are many more shade loving plants that you can try. Ask at your local garden centre for even more ideas.

Spring is here, see my post on spring pollinators:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

spring pollinators
Spring pollinators
Pinterest
Pinterest Board


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