Shade is no excuse to not have a beautiful, colorful, and lush garden. Unknown to most people, including gardeners, the choices are endless for a shade garden. Below is a list of my most common preferences of shade loving plants and shrubs.
Azalea: What would spring in the South be without azaleas? You can find cultivars that grow from dwarf to giant, so if you’ve got shade and acid soil, you can create a showplace.
Hydrangea: To me, nothing says Southern landscape better than big, billowy, blue hydrangeas. Pink ones are nice too.
Camellia: Both camellia japonica and camellia sasanqua give color to the landscape in the cool months of the year.
False indigo: A low-growing ground cover with lacy leaves that bears pink clusters of flowers in spring. Can be aggressive.
Ferns: Even in the hottest weather , you can look at ferns and imagine it’s cooler. Pair them with white impatiens for even greater chill.
Acanthus: Also called bear’s breeches (don’t you love plant names?),this make a large plant with huge leaves and bears tall spikes of white or purplish flowers in spring.
Strawberry begonia: Another good ground cover, strawberry begonia has scalloped, beautifully veined leaves year round and becomes even more attractive in the spring when loose clusters of flowers shoot up to form a haze of white.
Firespike: If you’re looking for a shade-loving plant that hummingbirds and butterflies can’t resist, try firespike. The plant grows into a large, airy shape and bears spikes of bright red flowers in late summer.
Coleus: Heat tolarent, hardy, vibrant leaves, and comes in a wide variety of color. If you want a show, this one is a sure bet. Pinching this plant back encouranges a bushy growth habit.
Ligularia: Comes in dwarf and giant. My favorite is the giant. Large, rounded, shiny green leaves show individually on 3 to 4 foot stalks. Daisy-like yellow flowers bloom on tall, branched stems. Thick leaves reach up to 18 inches across and provide an interesting display when massed under trees, in a shady border or in a patio container
Heuchera ( coral bells ): They come in a whole rainbow of colors, with some varieties grown specifically for their masses of flowers. They are wonderful in shade and add pops of color to any garden setting. And they are extremely low maintenance as well.
Hostas: One of the most commonly grown shade garden plants, hostas have captured the hearts of gardeners everywhere. Also called plantain lilies, these plants have a diverse offering of foliage shapes, colors, and sizes. There is truly a hosta for everyone, whether it be a miniature hosta for a trough garden or a mammoth monster of a plant to fill up a big space under a shade tree.
Again, this is a small list in comparision of what is available for the shade. Most common bedding plants for the shade are begonias, impatiens, and coleus. Your local nursuries should have all these available by mid-March. Your best bet is to get them early and plant them before May. Once the heat gets here, it is harder to get them established and stresses the plants.