What Kind of Plants Need Shade?

Finding plants that can grow in shady areas is sometimes a challenge for gardeners. While many plants need direct sun to thrive, there are actually some varieties of plants, such as ferns and English ivies, which need shade to grow because too much sunlight can burn their leaves. However shade doesn't mean a plant bed is pitch-black dark, receiving no sunlight at all. Instead, shade refers to a growing area that receives indirect or filtered sunlight.


Ferns are one of the most common shade loving plants. They're perennial plants, known for their deep rich leaf color and sword shape. The leaves of ferns range in color from emerald to light green and textures vary from flowering and soft to spiky and tall. These shade loving plants have a tropical appearance, looking stunning around a spa or pond. They can be divided in the fall and then transplanted to new locations.

English Ivies

English ivies are ideal shade plants producing green leaves year-round. These plants can serve as sturdy ground covers in some of the shadiest areas. They spread out horizontally as well as climb because of their aerial rootlets. English ivy plants bear greenish flower, although they're mostly grown for their evergreen foliage.


Hostas are easy-to-grow shade loving perennials that make excellent ground covers. They're hardy plants that grow compactly and produce white or bell-shaped lavender flowers in summer, which make them good choices for shade gardening. The color of their leaves range from pale yellow to dark green and bluish-green, with some leaves having yellow or white edges. Their leaf sizes range from small and wavy to somewhat large.


Begonias come in several varieties and can also serve as houseplants. When grown outdoors they're annuals, having only one season of growth. These plants produce bright flowers from summer until the first frost. They're popular plants for shade gardening due to their variety of flowers which range in color from white and yellow to red, yellow and orange.

Coral Bells

Coral Bells are low-growing plants known for their versatility. Their leaves have unique colors, ranging from shades or lime green, rose-purple, purple-metallic, mahogany red, brick-red, silver, copper to chocolate-black. The textures of coral bells vary from jagged to marble. With so much diversity, coral bells can add color to any shaded area. Deeper leaf colors are obtained by regular fertilizing.

Lady's Mantle

The Lady's Mantle receives its name because this plant's leaves' lobes resembled the scalloped edges of the cloak of the Virgin Mary. This silver-gray plant, with its sprays of chartreuse flowers, is often used as a ground cover. Its flowers are shaped as dainty stars. Lady's Mantle grows best in afternoon shade and in fertile, moist soil.

Christmas Rose

The Christmas Rose, an easy-to-grow plant, blooms in the darkest months when everything else is frozen. Amazingly, this plant produces flowers from late fall until early spring. Christmas roses are evergreen perennials with shiny dark green leathery leaves. The flowers of the plant produce white blooms, although sometimes they're shaded with pink. Although the Christmas rose is a beautiful winter plant, the roots are poisonous.

Keywords: shade loving plants, plants needing shade, plants requirng shade, shade plants

About this Author

Venice Kichura has written on a variety of topics for various websites since 2005. She's written articles published in print publications and stories for books such as "God Allows U-Turns." She's a graduate of the University of Texas and has worked in both Florida and Connecticut schools.