What Plants or Shrubs Are Good in Shady Areas?

Under a heavy tree canopy and beside tall fences and buildings there can be shady areas that still need a little gardening plot to liven up the landscape. These areas need shade tolerant plants. Plants and shrubs good for shade will be ones that live and thrive without direct sunlight, those needing to avoid the burn of midday heat.


Ardisia crenata, known commonly as the coralberry or the coral ardisia, is from the myrsine family. It is an evergreen bird-attracting shrub, good for container gardening, indoor use and shady spots. It will get 2 to 6 feet tall with dark green glossy leaves. Flowers are white or pink, not easily seen. Berries are showy and turn from coral to red. Plant a coralberry in rich soil with deep shade and moist to average conditions. Propagate via seed.


Dirca palustris, known commonly as the leatherwood or ropebark, is from the mezereum family. It is a wetland shrub that has nice fall foliage. Leatherwood can get 8 feet tall with soft stems and fibrous bark. Leaves are deciduous and 2 to 3 inches long, turning yellow in the fall. Flowers are pale yellow and fruits are greenish yellow berries. Plant a leatherwood in partial to full shade in rich moist soil. Propagate via seed in fall or layering, as cuttings can be difficult.

Cardinal Flower

Lobelia cardinalis, known commonly as the cardinal flower, is from the bellflower family. It is a wetland perennial that attracts hummingbirds. It will get 1 to 3 feet tall with red flowers and purplish leaves. Flowers are tubular. Plant a cardinal flower in full sun to partial shade with moist soil. Propagate via seed or by offset separation. With good conditions, this can self-sow.

English Ivy

Hedera helix, known commonly as the English ivy, is from the ginseng family. It is an evergreen vine good for indoor use, container gardening and shady garden plots. Leaves are white or yellow variegated with green. Flowers are tiny and unnoticeable and black berries are poisonous on the vine. Plant an English ivy in partial sun to shade in rich moist soil. Propagate via grafting, layering or by cuttings.

Common Periwinkle

Vinca minor, known usually as the common periwinkle or creeping myrtle, is from the dogbane family. It is an evergreen, easy-to-grow perennial that is fast growing and good for shade and container gardening. Evergreen leaves are 2 inches long with funnel shaped violet blue flowers 1 inch wide. Blooms are in spring and summer, colors varied by cultivar. Plant a common periwinkle in any soil in shady spots but can tolerate sun. Moist soil is preferred. Propagate via division

Keywords: shady areas, shade tolerant, plants and shrubs good for shade

About this Author

Tina Samuels has been a full-time freelance writer for more than 10 years, concentrating on health and gardening topics, and a writer for 20 years. She has written for "Arthritis Today," "Alabama Living," and "Mature Years," as well as online content. She has one book, “A Georgia Native Plant Guide,” offered through Mercer University; others are in development.