The best plants for shady gardens

There’s a common misconception that a shady garden means a dreary garden, but just because your garden doesn’t get full sun all day long doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. Yes, the hosta is everyone’s go-to, but there are many other plants for shady areas that will add color, richness and vibrancy to your backyard landscape.

To find the best types of plants and flowers for your garden, first decide exactly how shady it is.

Here are some general guidelines:

Full sun: Six or more hours of sunlight
Partial sun: Five to six hours of sunlight
Partial shade: Three to four hours of sunlight
Full shade: Less than three hours of sunlight

You’ll also need to consider your zone.

Here’s a list of hardy plants that shade gardeners turn to again and again.

Astilbe (Astilbe arendsii): These tall, feathery plumes can be bronze, dark or pale green, or deep red. Choose different colors for an interesting array all season long.

Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis): Also prized for their early blooms, the Lenten rose comes in purple, red, green, blue, yellow and pink, adding color and life as they bloom and rich foliage throughout the growing season.

Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis): The delicate and distinctive shape of these flowers, a heart with a little drop beneath it, gives it its name. Usually pink, white or red, the bleeding heart is part of the poppy family.

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica): Known for its trumpet-shaped blue flowers, the bluebell blooms in early spring. It loves moist, shady areas and native plant gardens. But be aware, it goes dormant after blooming, so you’ll need to overplant with annuals.

Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis): An evergreen perennial also known as “spurge,” this deep green plant is a great ground cover. It has white blooms in the spring, but is primarily known for its rich foliage.

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis): This hardy ground cover is a go-to favorite, especially for people who live in colder climates. Its green leaves, white bracts and scarlet berries give an air of winter and the holidays to your summer garden.

Visit us at Homestead Gardens for more ideas about beautifying your shady space.

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