Plants That Need Little Sun

Even if you have a yard full of trees, your garden can be more than a hosta-and-ivy bed. Shade gardens can be as full of texture and color as their sunny counterparts; there are hundreds of plants that thrive in the shade. Most garden centers note which plants require full sun (eight or more hours a day), part sun (six or more hours), part shade, dappled shade and full shade.

Shrubs and Other Large Plants

Like any garden, shade gardens start with focal plants, large plants that add color through blooms and texture through foliage. A number of ornamental trees and shrubs thrive in little sun, including dogwood, Japanese maple, hydrangea, azalea and camellia. Ferns, hostas and bleeding heart plants are all large perennials that can be used in shade gardens.


A number of annuals, bulbs and perennial flowers also prefer little sun. Annuals include classic bloomers such as begonia, impatiens, fuschia and salvia, as well as foliage favorite coleus and vinca. Bulbs include hyacinths, crocus and daffodil. Perennial shade plants include astilbe, columbine, coral bells, daylily, Virginia bluebells, forget-me-nots and cardinal flower.


Groundcovers help retain soil on slopes, tumble over rocks for interest and soften edges in designed beds. Move beyond ivy and consider other options, such as lungwort, periwinkle (also known as vinca minor,) ajuga, lily-of-the-valley, pachysandra, wild violets and ginger.

Keywords: shade gardening, shade foliage, plants for shade

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.