Full Shade Outdoor Plants

Finding plants that thrive in full shade can be challenging. Shade plants have subtle coloring and less abundant blooms than full-sun varieties. Their texture and form are important considerations in garden design. The key to successfully growing shade plants is to pay close attention to which plants are adaptable to your specific garden conditions.


Hosta is an ideal plant for shade gardens, and grows well under trees and in borders. It is popular for its unusually colorful leaves and low-maintenance care requirements. Foliage height ranges from 6 inches to 3 feet. The flower spikes, which can be white or lavender, rise taller than the foliage. Hostas require regular watering and mulch to retain soil moisture.


Rhododendrons work well in regions that are prone to cool, moist summers. The plant will grow anywhere from 1 to 20 feet in height, so select a variety that's suited to your garden's conditions. The plant's large blooms in bright hues of yellow, red and pink attract hummingbirds. They are relatively low-maintenance plants that require adequate moisture and pruning to stay healthy.

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart plants thrives in full shade with cool, moist conditions. They are a spring-blooming perennial whose height ranges from 6 inches to 2 feet, with yellow, pink, red or white blooms. Bleeding heart are also deer resistant. Use mulch to maintain moisture levels, and prune the stems to 1 or 2 inches above the ground after the first frost.


Also known as false goat's beard, astilbe consists of mounds of glossy foliage topped with large plumes of flowers in pink, lavender, red or white. Astilbe is easy to care for and tolerates wet soil, making it ideal along waterways and in woodland gardens. Since they multiply at a fast rate, astilbe plants need to be divided every three to four years.


Every season, gardeners flock to purchase this popular annual. They are easy to grow and flower all season in the shade. Impatiens are available in many combinations of red, pink and white, and grows 6 to 24 inches tall. They require regular watering and fertilization. Impatiens are also versatile in containers or window boxes.

Keywords: plants for full shade, shade garden plants, shade tolerant plants

About this Author

Vikki McMahon attended the College of New Jersey before experiencing a variety of career choices, including the pharmaceutical research field, the real estate industry, and the Insurance industry. She has been a freelance writer for 3 years and shares her enthusiasm for parenting and home and garden topics, with published articles appearing on stressfreeliving.com and thebabybin.com.