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Low-Maintenance Plants for Shady Areas

So you have a very shady yard, and not the slightest bit of a green thumb? Never fear! There are plenty of plants that crave cool shade. Selecting the right plant for a part of your yard that has a lot of shade will help to ensure a successful garden.


These must be planted every spring. People often complement their perennial plants by sprinkling a few annuals here and there for added color.

  • Impatiens: This hardy, easy to grow flower provides a splash of color to perk up shady spaces. You can find impatiens in a very wide variety of colors, including white, lavender, yellow, orange and bright pink. They bloom in spring and summer. They can grow to be anywhere from 10 to 30 inches tall; they grow taller if they receive peeks of sunlight.
  • Begonias: Begonias grow to be about six to 12 inches tall. They bloom from spring all the way through fall. Bloom colors range from white to deep orange. They have dark green glossy leaves.


Perennials only need to be planted once. They come back every spring.

  • Astilbe: This shade-loving plant grows very tall, from 18 to 24 inches. Its blossoms are deep red spikes composed of smaller blooms. It blooms in early to mid summer. Astilbe loves moist conditions; if part of your shaded area is soggy, it will thrive there. It also spreads readily as a groundcover.
  • Bellflower: These medium-height flowers have delicate, spindly stalks. Multiple small bell-shaped blooms are perched near the top of the stalk, and they sport a deep, soothing purple hue. This hardy plant thrives in mid-summer heat.
  • Daylilies: Daylilies are so hardy, they would probably grow in concrete! They even grow in the sun, and in part-sun, part-shade areas. They come in orange and yellow. They grow to be about 12 to 24 inches high. They are slightly fragrant, so the recessed blooms may attract hummingbirds. Daylilies bloom from early to mid summer.
  • Foamflower: This plant blooms mid-spring through early summer. It grows to be about 6 to 12 inches tall. Foamflowers sport wide leaves with a couple of short shoots, atop which are tiny whitish green blossoms. Foamflowers thrive in woodsy conditions, and readily proliferate to create ample groundcover.
  • Great blue lobelia. This perennial variety of lobelia grows to be about 30 inches high. It blooms in August. The spike-shaped blooms are composed of smaller deep blue florets. Great blue lobelia thrives in moist conditions.
  • Hyacinths: This is a bulb plant; the bulb must be planted in fall. It’s one of the first flowers to appear in spring. It’s intoxicatingly fragrant, which is quite welcome after a long winter! It grows to be about eight inches high. A stalk grows from the center of thick, tapered leaves; the stalk sports multiple small blooms, creating an oblong head. Hyacinths come in a variety of colors, from white to pink to deep purple.
  • Lily of the valley: Like hyacinths, lilies of the valley are wildly fragrant! They grow to be about six inches high. A stalk grows from broad, tapered leaves. Tiny creamy white bell-shaped flowers dangle from the stalk. This plant spreads very easily.
  • Virginia bluebells: This plant blooms in spring; its stalks grow to be about 24 inches tall. Purplish blue bell-like flowers perch near the top of the stalk.
  • Forget-me-not: This small plant grows to be about eight inches tall and features tiny, precious flowers in periwinkle, pink or white. It blooms in the spring. It thrives in moist conditions.
  • Hostas: These foliage plants lend a more stately, groomed appearance to the garden. They are low to the ground, creating a circle of thick, ribbed leaves. Certain varieties feature leaves streaked or edged in white. Hostas grow a single tall shoot from their center, which sports compact, pale lavender buds; they bloom in summer. The shoot can grow to be two feet tall, and the base of the plant can grow to be two feet wide.
  • Ferns: Like hostas, ferns come in a wide variety of foliage.

Your local small garden store--not a large chain--will know which types of shade plants thrive in your area, and may be able to add to this list. You should visit them or look up plants online to decide which ones you like.

Growing a plant in the shade can be trick in and of itself--but not when it comes to these shade-loving varieties! These shade lovers will add beauty to the trickiest of landscapes.

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