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Ten Great Plants for Shade

Shade loving plants seem to have it all figured out.  They’ve made their home out of the scorching summer sun. Who can blame them?  When temperatures start to rise I like to spend my time in the shady spots in my garden too.

Although the shade garden may not be as brilliant as one in full sun, it is rare that I hear a gardener complain about their shady lot in life.  Bed space in an area of low light can be filled to the brim with textures, shapes and yes, even color.

There are so many choices for shade to partial shade areas that I found it hard to narrow it down to just ten.  In addition to trying out these selections I encourage you to further explore the possibilities.  Once you discover all the beautiful annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees suitable for shade gardens you’ll never want to go out into the sun again.

Proven Winners Summer Wave Blue ToreniaSummer Wave® Blue Torenia (Wishbone Flower) – This plant pumps out true blue flowers throughout the summer.  It’s a low grower, maturing at 2 to 6 inches tall and has a ground cover like habit when planted in beds.  Position Summer Wave® Blue at the edge of containers, hanging baskets and window boxes for a cascade of color. It’s a proven performer, even through periods of intense heat and humidity.
Annual; part shade to shade; deer resistant; heat tolerant
This plant is a Proven Winner®. Visit www.provenwinners.com to find a retailer near you.

Proven Winners Rockapulco Appleblossom ImpatiensRockapulco® Appleblossom Impatiens – Who says you can’t grow roses in the shade?  This impatiens produces pale pink, fully double blooms that look just like roses.  This is one of my favorites for container gardens.  It works well as the round and full component in my 3-shape rule of using a combination of tall and spiky, round and full, and cascading plants.  In addition to the Appleblossom, Rockapulco® is also available in white, purple, pink and red. 
Annual; partial shade to shade; 10 to 20 inches tall
This plant is a Proven Winner®. Visit www.provenwinners.com to find a retailer near you.

Proven Winners Heuchera Dolce Mocha MintDolce® Coral Bells (Heuchera hybrid) – One of my most delightful plant discoveries of late are the Dolce® heucheras.  Talk about color!  Names like Crème Brulee, Key Lime Pie and Mocha Mint set the tone for these extraordinary plants.  The bright chartreuse foliage of Key Lime Pie makes it a favorite of mine and I just love using Peach Melba in fall containers.  The fiery salmon leaves fit right in to the autumn tapestry.  These heucheras bloom nicely as well.  Hefty spires of tiny bell-shaped flowers are produced in spring and again in late summer.
Perennial; full sun to partial shade to shade; zones 5 – 11; deer resistant; drought tolerant
This plant is a Proven Winner®. Visit www.provenwinners.com to find a retailer near you.

Proven Winners Infinity Salmon New Guinea ImpatiensInfinity® Salmon New Guinea Impatiens
– Bright, cheerful color on large flowers can be difficult to find for the shade, but this New Guinea Impatiens definitely answers to the call.  The deep salmon flowers with a white sparkling eye look great massed in flower beds or container designs with hostas, ivy and grasses.  For the best results be sure to give New Guinea Impatiens plenty of moisture, but allow the soil to dry out between waterings. 
Annual; partial shade to full shade
This plant is a Proven Winner®. Visit www.provenwinners.com to find a retailer near you.

Proven Winners Diamond Frost EuphorbiaDiamond Frost® Euphorbia – This plant is outstanding anywhere in the garden.  It’s designated as a full sun to partial shade plant, but I’ve discovered that it does really well in full shade as well. It is so delicate and ethereal looking that I was surprised to discover what a toughie it can be. Both heat and drought tolerant Diamond Frost® blooms constantly throughout the summer and into fall. The flowers appeared to hover over the ground in a cloud of dainty white flowers. Mature garden height is 12 to 18 inches.
Tender perennial; full sun to partial shade; zone 10; deer resistant, drought tolerant; heat tolerant
This plant is a Proven Winner®. Visit www.provenwinners.com to find a retailer near you.

Proven Winners Little Henry IteaLittle Henry® Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) – This little shrub is a superstar in my garden because of its sweet smelling summer blooms and amazing fall color. It’s exceptionally adaptable to a variety of growing conditions and virtually carefree.  If you have an area in your garden with low light and wet, poorly draining soil, this is the shrub for you.  It will also thrive in full sun and can survive short periods of drought once it gets established.  As the name implies this shrub stays compact, maturing at about 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide.  It’s an excellent choice to slip into containers for seasonal color and then plant in the garden later.
Deciduous shrub, zones 5 – 9, deer resistant, 3 feet tall x 3 feet wide
This plant is a Proven Winner®. Visit www.provenwinners.com to find a retailer near you.

Pineapple LilyPineapple Lily (Eucomis autumnalis) – I discovered this plant during a visit to Holland and I’ve been planting it in my shade garden and container designs ever since.  It’s an exotic beauty that produces rosettes of strap-like leaves and  20" bloom stalks bearing flowers that resemble pineapples. It’s a tender perennial that doesn’t winter over in my mid-South garden so I have to plant it every summer.  It will thrive in full sun or partial shade, although the blooms may need to be staked in areas of low light.
Tender perennial; full sun to partial shade; zones 8 – 11

Hosta Krossa Regal and Souther Wood FernsHosta – Hostas may seem a little obvious, but sometimes you just can’t beat the tried and true.  Besides there are so many interesting types.  You can grow the jumbo hostas like Sum and Substance or tea cup varieties such as Tiara.  Colors range from true green, chartreuse, variegated, gray and blue.  I think a mass planting of hefty hostas and delicate ferns can be truly stunning.  And hosta leaves and blooms are a wonderful addition to cut flower arrangements. 
Perennial; partial shade to shade; zones 3 – 9

Japanese Anemone Honorine Jobert‘Honorine Jobert’ Japanese Anemone (Anemone x hybrida) – Japanese anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ produces single petaled flowers tinged delicately with pink on the underside of the petals.  Bright yellow stamens emerge from the center.  The glossy green, deeply lobed foliage is lovely in the garden as well. This plant will grow 2 to 3 feet tall and prefers rich, moist, but well-drained soil. If the plant has wet "feet" in winter, it can be fatal.  For the best results plant in partial shade to filtered light.
Perennial; partial shade to shade; zones 5 – 10

Royal FernRoyal Fern (Osmunda regalis) – Royal ferns provide dramatic height and delicate foliage to your garden.  They are an ideal choice for areas with poor drainage. Its regal stature, growing to 6 feet tall in ideal conditions, makes it a dramatic backdrop for other woodland plants such as variegated hosta and columbine. The delicate foliage brings to mind black locust leaves in that the leaflets are small and oblong.  The bright green of the leaves and cinnamon colored summer “blooms” make this plant a real standout. 
Perennial, zones 4 – 9, partial shade to shade