Made in the Shade

I live on land that hasn’t been timbered in decades and some the trees we have are over 80’ tall.  So I’ve got lots of spots in my yard that are in shade or part shade. Gardening in the shade can be tricky. I’m always looking for plants that do well under those conditions. I am especially fond of perennials because they come back every year. Many also spread or grow large enough to be dug up and divided, giving me more value for my money.

Read on to find out about the shade loving plants that are working well for me. I've included their hardiness zones so you can see if they will be perennial for you, too.



 #1 Bleeding Heart

bleeding heart perennials

Hardiness Zone: Zone 4-8

Light Requirements: Half-Sun to Full Shade

Bloom Time: Late Spring to Early Summer

Mature Plant Size: 24-36” tall 24-30” wide

I love to see these arrive in the spring and set their unique flowers. This is one of the few plants that I have planted only for their flowers but they're worth it.

 #2 Vinca

vinca periwinkle


Hardiness Zone: Zone 4-9

Light Requirements: Full Sun-Part Shade

Bloom Time: Late Spring to Early Summer

Mature Plant Size: 4-6” tall/ up to 18” wide

Another of my spring favorites, I plant these not only for their beautiful flowers but for their dark green foliage that works as a great ground cover. These plants are one of the few that I can get to grow in dry shade under our old-growth trees.

#3 Hosta

hosta perennials


Hardiness Zone: Zone 3-9

Light Requirements: Half Sun-Full Shade

Bloom Time: Varies

Mature Plant Size: Varies

Hostas are incredibly versatile. The colors of the foliage and sizes of the plants are endless. I love them in shady borders and as a backdrop to annuals. They are extremely easy to divide so when I buy them I look for very full plants that I can divide immediately.

#4 Coral Bells


coral bells heuchara

Hardiness Zone: Zone 4-9

Light Requirements: Sun-Shade

Bloom Time: Mid-spring to early summer

Mature Plant Size: Average Size10-12” tall 18-24” wide

I love this plant mainly for its foliage. There are tons of varieties and colors. Some varieties do well in sun, others fare better in shade. Be sure to check varieties and tags before you buy. The sprays of tiny flowers in spring are a bonus. You are really buying this plant for the foliage.

#5 Lily of the Valley


lily of the valley perennials 

Hardiness Zone: Zone 2-8

Light Requirements: Half Sun-Full Shade

Bloom Time: Early to Late Spring

Mature Plant Size: 6-8” tall 12-18” wide

Lilly of the valley is a plant that spreads and spreads. I moved a few that had been planted in a small bed by near the house by the previous owner to an area under some very large trees. Every spring there are more and lilies filling in the area without my needing to do anything. The white flowers are beautiful to see in spring and the dark green foliage lasts all season long.

Hopefully this gives you some inspirations to add some of these beauties to the shady areas of your garden.

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