28 Best Shade-loving Plants for Indoor & Outdoor Gardening


white polygonatum hybrid, also known at solomons seal clusters of small greenish white flowers and oval leaves
© Helen Lawson//Getty Images


This lesser-known perennial is absolutely charming! Long arched stems are covered in cute, little dancing bells in April or May. It reaches about two feet tall.

Varieties to try: Wedding Bells, Lemon Seoul



browalliasAlberto Barros / 500px//Getty Images


Gaining in popularity as an alternative to impatiens, this beautiful annual comes in shades of periwinkle blue, white, and violet on mounding foliage. It’s an attractive choice for shady baskets, window boxes, and containers, reaching about a foot wide and tall.

Varieties to try: Endless Illumination, Endless Flirtation



hosta "moon river"
Getty Images


Hostas come in various sizes from a petite 4 inches to as big as 6 feet across! But be aware these perennials are a favorite of deer and rabbits. If deer are frequent visitors to your garden, consider planting a less-tasty plant!

Varieties to try: Shadowland Empress Wu, Mouse Ears


Advertisement – Continue Reading Below


lungwortJacky Parker Photography//Getty Images


So it’s not the prettiest name, but it does boast lovely purple or pink flowers in mid-spring with silvery-speckled leaves. Also called pulmonaria, this perennial stays about 12 to 14 inches tall and wide and is deer resistant (yay!).

Varieties to try: Twinkle Toes, Spot On



sweet potato vine
Lisa Romerein//Getty Images


If you’re looking for a vining annual that works equally well in sun and shade, sweet potato vine is the answer. This pretty plant comes in shades of purple, burgundy, and chartreuse and looks fabulous when spilling over the sides of containers and window boxes.

Varieties to try: Sweet Caroline Light Green, Tricolor



begoniaJacky Parker Photography//Getty Images


Begonias do well in a variety of conditions, including full shade. Depending on the variety, they can range from 6 inches to 3 feet tall and from 6 to 18 inches wide. Some types are grown primarily for their striking variegated foliage. Most are considered annuals.

Varieties to try: Cane, Wax, Angel-Wing


Advertisement – Continue Reading Below


leopard plant or ligularia
DEA / RANDOM//Getty Images


Ligularia, sometimes called the leopard plant, has large showy leaves and bright flowers in shades of yellow. This perennial is especially happy in boggy or wet conditions. They can grow anywhere from 3 to 8 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide.

Varieties to try: Banana, The Rocket, King Kong



violasJacky Parker Photography//Getty Images


These happy-faced flowers tolerate full sun in spring and fall, but come summer, they’ll need part shade. They often die back in hot weather and revive when things cool down. They’re annuals but some types self-seed and may appear again next spring.

Varieties to try: Johnny Jump-Up, King Henry



flowers of toad lily tricyrtis
DigiPub//Getty Images


Also known as bishop’s hat because of the unique flower shape, epimedium thrives in part to full shade and blooms from mid to late spring. This perennial can grow between 8 and 12 inches tall and 12 to 36 inches wide. They’re a great ground cover for shady spots.

Varieties to try: Candy Hearts, Orange Queen


Advertisement – Continue Reading Below


brunneraINE PUADI / 500px//Getty Images


Often used as a groundcover, this perennial is known for its tiny blue flowers that bloom in the spring. They also have charming heart-shaped foliage with white variegation, making them delightful plants whether they’re in bloom or not.

Varieties to try: Jack’s Frost, Silver Heart, Alexander’s Great



findhorn ecovillage
Yuriko Nakao//Getty Images


Known as bleeding hearts (and you can see why!), these charming perennials are a must-have in any shade garden. Depending on the variety, they can grow between 6 inches to 3 feet tall and 1 and 3 feet wide.

Varieties to try: Valentine, King of Hearts, Aurora



herbaceous perennial with deep purple flowers in mid summer also known as spiderwortPhotos by R A Kearton//Getty Images


This pretty plant with a fun name blooms in mid-summer and prefers moist yet well-drained soil. Expect it to grow between 6 inches to 3 feet tall, depending on the variety.

Varieties to try: Amethyst Kiss, Sweet Kate


Advertisement – Continue Reading Below


ragley hall, warwickshire the winter garden with helleborus harvington reds
Clive Nichols//Getty Images


These gorgeous perennials look delicate but are tough as nails! They’re also called Lenten roses because they bloom in late winter to early spring around the time of Lent. They’re available in a profusion of colors ranging from pure white to the deepest pinks and almost black. Depending on the variety, you can expect them to grow between 1 to 3 feet tall and wide.

Varieties to try: Painted Doubles, Wedding Party Maid of Honor



heucherella 'alabama sunrise'ullstein bild//Getty Images


Heuchera, also known as coral bells, are one of the most versatile perennials for any garden. Most types grow in light ranging from full sun to full shade, so read the tag to be sure about what you’re buying. It has small flower spikes in midsummer, but it’s grown mainly for its striking foliage that spans every color of the rainbow from chartreuse to purple-black. The plant’s size ranges from 1 to 2 feet tall and 6 to 30 inches wide.

Varieties to try: Appletini, Wild Berry



impatiens in a park in oslo, norway
Wolfgang Kaehler//Getty Images


These annuals are one of the only plants that will put on a floral display in full shade. Downside: Some types are susceptible to powdery mildew, a devastating disease that kills the plants and overwinters in the soil for years! If you’ve had problems in the past, look for new hybrids such as the Beacon Series that are more disease-resistant. They can grow between 6 and 30 inches tall and around 1 to 3 feet wide.

Varieties to try: Cherry Splash, Infinity Cherry Red, Paradise


Advertisement – Continue Reading Below


oakleaf hydrangeaMark Turner//Getty Images


This gorgeous shrub produces oodles of impressive flowers from early summer to fall. It prefers morning sun and afternoon shade. Bonus: It’s the only type of hydrangea that offers gorgeous autumn color with its foliage. Plant this shrub in a large garden, because it can grow between 4 to 8 feet tall and wide.

Varieties to try: Gatsby Pink, Gatsby Star



Getty Images


Astilbe needs shade so its pretty flower plumes won’t burn. Plant these perennials in drifts, or clumps, for best effect with other spring-flowering shade-lovers such as ferns and hellebores. It comes in many shades including pale pink, creamy white, and hot pink.

Varieties to try: Younique Carmine, Rise and Shine



various shades and shapes of green from the hills and forests of connemara, galway, ireland i have been exploring the essence of the irish green for a long time and i am still amazed by the intensity and contrast of the colour green that i have discovered here and nowhere else, in no other country i am completely in love with the deep rich tones of this green and the amazing shapes it comes with this is a nature study of colours and shapes from the deep hidden places of connemara, galway, irelandAnnie Japaud//Getty Images


There’s a reason ferns are often found in moist, shady forests: Their favorite environment is where there’s light to moderate shade. These perennials come in an array of lovely, lacy forms and spread to form a beautiful ground cover in time. Make sure you choose a variety that can survive winters in your climate. They can reach up to a few feet tall, depending on the variety.

Varieties to try: Autumn, Japanese Painted


Advertisement – Continue Reading Below


caladiums are flowering plants in the family araceae they are also commonly named elephant ear, heart of jesus, and angel wings there are over 1000 named cultivar
Zen Rial//Getty Images


The huge, heart-shaped leaves are what make this plant so stunning! Some newer types take the sun, so read the plant label to be sure about what you have. They’re perennial in warm climates (zone 10 or warmer) but bring indoors in winter in cold climates to enjoy as a houseplant. The plant size ranges from 6 inches to 3 feet tall and up to 24 inches wide.

Varieties to try: Heart to Heart Blushing Bride, White Christmas



bletilla striata, commonly called chinese ground orchid or hyacinth orchid, is a terrestrial orchid which produces small, cattleya like, pinkish purple flowers in 3 7 flowered racemes atop naked scapes blooms mid to late spring each pseudobulb produces 3 5 sword shaped, pale green leavesPhotos from Japan, Asia and othe of the world//Getty Images


Bletilla, also called Chinese ground orchid, is a stunning low-maintenance addition to any garden. Protect plants from the harsh afternoon sun if you want them to look their best. Plant the bulbs the previous fall for spring blooms. Expect them to grow between 1 and 3 feet tall and 6 to 12 inches wide.

Variety to try: Striata, Pink