Common Shade Plants

Common Shade Plants image by Michael in San Diego, California/

Shade plants are ideal for gardens and landscapes surrounded with canopy trees and limited sunlight. These plants can grow and bloom with just fertile soil, warm temperatures and a little care. There are a large assortment of shade plants that fit every climate and condition. Some common shade plants are quite easy to grow and are excellent fillers for every location.

Lady Fern

Lady fern is commonly found in homes but is native to deciduous forests of North America and Eurasia. The lady fern is a deciduous perennial that averages heights between 24 and 36 inches. Unlike many flowers and plants, the lady fern prefers shaded areas and thrives under trees, open thickets and moist woods. Ferns grow best in loose, sandy loams that are complemented with high humidity and wind protection. They grow in circle formation and reproduce, developing the outward circumference of the formation. Lady ferns require very little maintenance and are not susceptible to disease or virus.


The caladium is a perennial plant that can grow between 12 and 30 inches tall. Its tropical foliage grows in multi-colored combinations that include green with red, pink and white variations. The plants require protection from sunlight and can only tolerate a few hours of direct sunlight per day. They are very susceptible to sunburn and require warm, moist soil to maintain growth. Soil temperatures below an averaged 70 degrees Farenheit could promote slow growth and tuber rot. Maintain your caladiums with regular fertilization and watering.


The delphinium has many variations with annual and perennial classifications. Though all delphiniums grow well in full sunlight to partial shade, some variations prefer partial shade. These multi-colored flowers grow, quite rapidly, in a spiking, stately pattern. Delphiniums do best in climates with cool, moist summers and require regular irrigation during dry periods. These plants are susceptible to fungal diseases and mildew issues. Treat illnesses immediately to prevent spread. *Delphiniums are extremely poisonous and ingestion could be fatal. Take precautions if you have children and pets.

Plantain Lily

The plantain lily is a perennial shade plant natively found on the forest floor. These plants provide lush, green foliage and produce lily-shaped flowers in the late summer. Plantain lilies highly prefer full to filtered shade but can tolerate the morning sunlight. It is drought-resistant and can tolerate almost all types of soil. Plantain lilies require little maintenance but do need regular watering and sustained moisture. These plants are generally disease-free but attract slugs and snails.


Azaleas produce in deciduous and evergreen varieties and grow in a multitude of colors and sizes. Like delphinium, the azalea varieties can tolerate a spectrum of direct and indirect sunlight. However, azaleas produce larger, longer-lasting blooms when resting in filtered shade. Azaleas also prefer slightly acidic, moist soil that is not fertilized. These plants are susceptible to petal blight that can be controlled with a fungicidal spray in the spring.

Keywords: common shade plants, delphiniums, lady ferns

About this Author

Writing professionally since 2004, Charmayne Smith focuses on corporate materials such as training manuals, business plans, grant applications and technical manuals. Smith's articles have appeared in the "Houston Chronicle" and on various websites, drawing on her extensive experience in corporate management and property/casualty insurance.

Photo by: Michael in San Diego, California/