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Landscape Plants Grown from the Shade

Shady areas offer you cool quiet spaces making tranquil settings. Use shade-loving plants that give the place interesting textures and colors. Bright yellows and browns add drama into the colour, while hues of blue and purple evoke feelings of calmness. Plant a blend of shade-tolerant plants for a natural look.


Ferns add a lush woodsy appearance to shady areas. Japanese holly ferns (Cyrtomium fortunei) remain evergreen in mild winter spots, producing leathery 2-foot-long upright fronds forming clumps up to 3 feet wide. This woodland garden plant grows best in moist ground in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. Perennial southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-verneris) develop best in USDA zones 7 through 11, with green fluffy fronds reaching 6 to 12 inches tall, forming clumps 1 to 3 feet wide.

Perennial Flowers

Perennial blooms brighten up the colour with bold seasonal colors. Crested irises (Iris cristata) produce blue-lilac spring blooms with white patches and yellow crests. The 5- to 6-inch-tall dagger-shaped leaves form a cool green carpet in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 10. Red spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) develop in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 through 10, with bright red blossoms which rely on the shade’s coolness to stretch flowering in the fall. The grass-like leaves reach up to 36 inches high, forming clumps less than 6 inches wide.

Showy Foliage Plants

Leaves with uncommon and bold color markings generate a tropical look. Some of those plants produce the very best colors in colour, since direct sunlight fades them. “Diamond Tiara” plantain lilies (Hosta “Diamond Tiara”) produce light green heart-shaped leaves with white edges in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. This perennial types clumps of leaves 8 to 12 inches tall, spreading 16 inches wide, with purple blossoms appearing in the midst of summer. “Tasmanian Angel” bear’s breeches (Acanthus mollis “Tasmanian Angel”) grows in USDA zones 7 through 10. Large irregular green leaves with creamy-white edges form clumps reaching 3 to 6 feet tall and wide. This low-maintenance perennial produces 3-foot-tall pink and cream flowers.


Shrubs fill in large gaps in the landscape and also some lend interesting colors to shady areas. Gold-dust plants (Aucuba japonica “Variegata”) develop best in USDA zones 6 through 10, demonstrating glossy evergreen leaves with bright yellow speckles reaching 6 to 10 feet tall and wide. This tree tolerates competition from tree roots. “Golden Guinea” Japanese rose bushes (Kerria japonica “Golden Guinea”) produce densely-growing divisions covered with deciduous green leaves and masses of golden-yellow spring blooms. “Golden Guinea” reaches 8 feet tall, spreading 5 to 6 ft wide in USDA zones 4 through 8. Smart green stems provide winter interest after the leaves fall.

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