Outdoor Shade Plants

Landscaping shaded areas of your yard or finding plants to decorate your covered porch is often challenging and a little frustrating. Most plants enjoy full or at least partial sunlight and will not flourish in the darker spots of your garden. However, you will find a nice selection of ground-cover plants, flowers and shrubs that have adapted to life in shady spots and prefer to have little or no sun at all during the day.

Ground Cover

English Ivy is one of the most popular ground covers for shadowy areas. Ivy covers large areas with a thick carpet of greenery and will flourish in the deepest of shade. Periwinkle also makes good ground cover for shady locations. It will span areas quickly and the bright, sky blue flowers add a splash of color to the drab corners of your garden. The Virginia creeper, a vine that works well as ground cover for shady spots, can be intrusive and must be well maintained to keep it from sneaking into other parts of your garden.


Impatiens prefer shaded spots in the landscape. They do well in cool, low-lit areas of gardens and flower beds. Ranging from white to vibrant reds, pinks and purples, impatiens add beauty and brightness to the shaded areas of your landscaping. Pansies make ideal plants for filling containers that are placed on covered porches, patios and decks. These velvety flowers bloom over a long span of time and spruce up any garden with their dazzling array of colors. Begonia, alyssum, lily-of-the-valley and larkspur all do well in shaded or partially shaded areas of your yard.


Rhododendron bushes grow best when placed in shaded areas that are mixed with filtered sunlight. They will not flourish in fully shaded areas, but they don't require large amounts of sunlight to thrive. Drainage conditions are important when growing rhododendrons. Their roots are easily damaged, so excellent drainage is necessary for the bush to survive. The hydrangea produces long-lasting clusters of colorful flowers. They can tolerate a range of full sun to shade and prefer moist but well-drained soil. Mountain laurel and the boxwood shrub both work well in shaded areas.


Enhance your garden by adding a touch of exotic greenery with shade-loving ferns such as holly ferns, painted ferns, lady ferns and autumn ferns. These plants prefer shady, moist and cool areas of a garden. They have a light, airy texture that adds a nice contrast to your other flowers and plants.

Keywords: shade plants, shade gardens, shade landscaping, ground cover plants, plants that love shade

About this Author

Amy Deemer has been writing since 1992. Her articles on family life and pets have appeared in the family section of "The Herald Standard" newspaper. Deemer has an Associate of Arts degree in liberal studies from Westmoreland Community college.