12 Plants That Will Thrive in The Shaded Area of Your Garden

how to grow astilbe

The ultimate trick to a thriving garden is finding the right spot for each plant. This requires considering multiple factors like soil type, the garden’s exposure, drainage, and of course, sunlight availability. While some plants bask in the glory of full sunlight, others flourish in shaded or semi-shaded spots.

Here’s a list of 12 plants that can add a splash of colour and life to those shaded areas of your garden:

  1. Astilbe (False Goat’s Beard)
  2. Heuchera
  3. Hellebores
  4. Hakonechloa Macra (Japanese Forest Grass)
  5. Digitalis Purpurea (Foxglove)
  6. Alchemilla Mollis (Lady’s Mantle)
  7. Aquilegia (Granny’s Bonnet)
  8. Snowdrops
  9. Hosta
  10. Ferns
  11. Ivy (Hedera Helix)
  12. Hardy Cyclamen

Top Tip

Ensure proper drainage in your shaded areas; too much damp can lead to root rot in many shade-loving plants.

1. Astilbe (False Goat’s Beard)

how to grow astilbe

Astilbes are splendid plants that aren’t fussy about being in sunny spots or semi-shaded areas. They delight us with their feathery plumes of colour from late spring through to the end of summer. They prefer moist but well-drained soil and detest drying out. Low-maintenance, they only need trimming in spring.

2. Heuchera

With their stunning deep coloured low mounds of foliage, Heucheras are a delightful contrast to other plants in shaded corners. They’re low-maintenance but aren’t fans of extremes – keep the soil well-drained and prevent it from getting too dry.

3. Hellebores

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Dainty and charming, Hellebores bloom through winter and spring in the shadier corners of your garden. They’re easygoing but do require some tidying up in late winter. Remember, they aren’t fans of dry spells.

4. Hakonechloa Macra (Japanese Forest Grass)

HAKONECHLOA MACRA

This unique and elegant grass performs well in both sun and shade. Its bright green, rippling mounds add a touch of elegance, particularly under small garden trees or along pathways. They’re easy to grow, add a splash of autumn colour, and need a bit of spring care.

Interested in other ornamental grasses? Do check out our related blog post.

5. Digitalis Purpurea (Foxglove)

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A bee-magnet, the Foxglove produces lovely spikes of tubular flowers from March until July-end. It enjoys moist soil that’s not waterlogged, and in either sunny or shady spots. Beware, it self-seeds freely and will spread through your garden rapidly.

6. Alchemilla Mollis (Lady’s Mantle)

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A combination of bright lime green foliage and small yellow flowers makes the Lady’s Mantle a delightful sight. It’s content in both sunny spots and partial shade, given the soil is moist but well-drained. It’s a keen self-seeder and can quickly dominate your garden. Its vibrant colour pairs well with darker foliage like Heuchera or Hostas.

7. Aquilegia (Granny’s Bonnet)

Granny’s Bonnet is at home in any partially shaded area. These hardy perennials completely shed their leaves in winter but bounce back with new shoots in spring. Do keep an eye on their self-seeding habits or they might take over your garden.

8. Snowdrops

snowdrops Spring Bulbs

Snowdrops, one of the earliest bloomers in the UK, herald the arrival of spring. Planting these bulbs in shaded areas infuses a fresh breath of life into your garden when the new year begins. 

For more information on planting and caring for snowdrops, see our related blog post here

9. Hosta

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Hostas are superb foliage plants best suited for shaded areas. Their low-maintenance nature and vivid contrast against other plants make them a gardener’s favourite. Clean up any dead foliage come autumn.

10. Ferns

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Ferns are your go-to plants for interesting foliage in shaded areas. With an array of varieties, some evergreen and some deciduous, they add textural intrigue to your garden.

11. Ivy (Hedra Helix)

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Fast-growing Ivy is perfect for adding life to shady walls and trees. Its year-round green cover offers shelter and food to many insects and birds.

12. Hardy Cyclamen

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These frost-hardy mini cyclamens add a pop of joyous colour to your garden during winter. They’re happy in shaded areas that don’t dry out and should bloom year after year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which plants grow best in shade in the UK?

There are many plants that love shade in the UK, some of which we’ve mentioned in this post! Some of the top performers include Astilbe, Heuchera, Hellebores, Digitalis Purpurea (Foxglove), Alchemilla Mollis (Lady’s Mantle), and Hardy Cyclamen.

Q: What potted plants are best for full shade in the UK?

If you’re looking to green up a shady balcony or patio with pots, consider these options: Ferns, Ivy (Hedera Helix), Hostas, and Heucheras. They all do well in pots and can tolerate full shade. Just remember, potted plants tend to dry out faster, so they may require more frequent watering than those in the ground.

Q: Do geraniums grow in shade?

Geraniums, particularly hardy geraniums, can tolerate a fair bit of shade. They may not bloom as profusely as they would in full sun, but they’ll still produce lovely flowers. However, they do need some sunlight, so aim for a spot with filtered light or partial shade.

Q: Does lavender grow in shade?

Lavender typically loves the sun and prefers at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day. While they can survive in partial shade, they may not thrive or bloom as much. If you have a shaded garden, it’s better to opt for plants that naturally prefer these conditions, like those mentioned in this post.

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