How to Bring Life to Shady Garden Areas

As your trees start to mature, shady areas begin to appear, creating spots where those sun-loving plants no longer thrive. While you may think you are limited to Annabelle hydrangeas and hostas, there are many other plants you may not be familiar with that can liven up those shady areas.

Some of our favorite shade plants include heuchera (coral bells), astilbe, bleeding heart, turtlehead, Jacob’s ladder, and lady’s mantle. Each of these plants provides color either all-season or at alternating periods. While your area may not be large enough to use all these plants, choose ones that will give you color all season, whether it’s foliage color or blooms. Typically, we plant in groupings of singles or multiples of three, so keep that in mind when selecting the number of plants needed for your project. Check out some of our favorites.

Golden Feathers Jacobs Ladder provides both bloom and foliage interest by producing bluish-purple blooms in late spring to early summer and then showcases variegated foliage the rest of the season. This plant prefers to be on the wetter side but not in saturated soil. This variety does not grow large, reaching about 10 inches tall and a foot wide.

Auslese Lady’s Mantle is a great mounding plant for borders. Yellow blooms appear in the summer on top of green foliage. This plant prefers slightly drier conditions, so allow it to dry out between waterings. Full shade may be too much for this plant, so it is better to allow this plant to receive a little sun.

Hot Lips Turtlehead is one of our favorite shade plants. Blooming in late summer with bright pink flowers, it really brightens up the shady landscape. Growing to about 2 feet tall, make sure to plant it where it will not cover other plants. Turtlehead prefers full shade and wetter conditions, making it perfect for a shade woodland-looking garden.

Keep in mind when selecting plants that not all are suitable for all locations. Planting under evergreen trees sometimes presents additional challenges. Plants such as columbine, anemone, ferns, and lily of the valley will grow under evergreens, as they prefer slightly acidic soil. However, for them to thrive, extra watering is needed as they will compete with the evergreen trees for much-needed moisture.

Your shady spots don’t have to be dull and lifeless! Plant them with a variety of plants with an abundance of color to provide interest all season long.