What Types of Plants Grow in the Shade?

Many gardeners have dark, shady patches in their yards. Some people might find their garden areas in the shade for most of the day. Fortunately there are many types of flowers and plants suited to low light that allow you to brighten the darkest areas of your garden with a rainbow of flowers and foliage.


Hostas are one of the more common types of shade-loving flowering plants. They are hardy perennials that tolerate cold weather. With more than 2,500 varieties, hostas have large leaves that come in a variety of shapes and colors ranging from pink to gold to white. Many varieties have bright spikes of small flowers that can be white, light purple or pink. These plants require shade from the midday sun, but most fare better with some indirect light in the morning.


Impatiens is another popular flower that grows well in the shade. These low-growing annuals make attractive border plants, with dark green leaves and bright flowers. Their geometric-looking flowers come in colors that include pink, white, orange and purple. Impatiens plants do better in warmer climates and can tolerate being in the shade all day.


The dramatic leaf shape and tremendous variety of ferns make them interesting shade plants. Ferns not only add green to the garden all year around, but variegated varieties like "Pictum" and "Lady in Red" can add streaks of silver or burgundy. Most ferns do well in full shade or partial light, and varieties like "Ostrich" and "Pictum" are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 3. Most ferns have higher moisture requirements, which might be compromised if rainfall is blocked by trees or eaves.


Ivy is a versatile plant that tolerates both sun and shade. It can also be trained to climb a wall or trellis, adding depth to a shady garden. English ivy is a hardy variety that stays green all year around. Variegated ivy has green and white leaves and is suitable as a container plant, climber and ground cover.


According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, most vegetables require at least six hours of sun a day, but some types are somewhat shade tolerant, particularly if they're grown for leaves instead of roots or fruits. Salad greens and beet greens might grow more thinly, and will yield a better harvest if grown close together. Spinach, mustard greens and chard can also be grown successfully in partial shade.

Keywords: shade gardening, shade-loving plants, shade tolerant plants

About this Author

Sarah Metzker Erdemir is an expat writer and ESL teacher living in Istanbul since 2002. A fiction writer for more than 25 years, she began freelance writing and editing in 2000. Ms. Metzker Erdemir holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Romance languages and linguistics as well as a TESOL Master of Arts degree. She has written articles for eHow, Garden Guides, and ConnectEd.