Plants That Need Shade

So many plants thrive in full sunlight that finding shade-loving plants can often feel like a chore. Though many plants will flounder with shade or partial shade, there are plenty of other plant species that need shade, producing healthy foliage and flowers in dark areas of the garden.

Nun Orchid

Nun orchid (Phaius tankervilliae) is a spring-blooming flowering plant that boasts tall, waxy stalks topped with brownish red blooms. Native to tropical Asia and Australia, nun orchid is one of the easier orchid species to care for. The plant prefers light shade or a mix of shade and sunlight. Nun Orchid does best in humus-rich, moist soil. Though the plant will tolerate drought, it won't produce exceptional blooms unless watered regularly.


A member of the lily family, the hosta (Hosta spp.) is one of the most well-known shade plants. Grown primarily for its luscious, thick foliage, hostas thrive in partial or full shade. There are many cultivars of hosta available, with leaves ranging from solid deep green to stripes of creamy yellow and bright green. Native to China, Korea and Japan, hosta plants do best in soil that is fertile, neutral and consistently moist.

Bleeding Heart

Native to tropical West Africa, bleeding heart (Clerodendrum thomsoniae) is a loose evergreen shrub that produces unusual heart-shaped flowers that are a deep pink and creamy white. Reaching a height of about 3 feet, the plant is a popular ornamental that can also be grown in a container. Bleeding hearts like a little bit of morning sunlight, but they need good shade for the rest of the day. The plant will flourish in humid areas with moist, well-drained soil.

Keywords: shade plants, plant types, need shade

About this Author

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based out of Astoria, Ore. She has been writing professionally for five years, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for an alternative weekly paper in Santa Cruz. She has a B.A. in fine arts from the University of California in Santa Cruz and a minor in English literature.