Shade represents any area of the garden that receives any light other than direct sun during the day. The degree of shade dictates the plants chosen for that area of the garden. Shade-loving plants won't survive if gardeners place them in locations featuring too much sun. Each plant requires specific light requirements that must be met for the plant to flower and produce healthy foliage. Gardeners need to choose plants appropriate for the shade location based on the type of shade.
Dappled shade features spots of sunlight peeking between the branches of a tree. This shade pattern moves frequently as the sun moves across the sky. Dappled shade areas of the garden allow the best of both worlds for gardeners with the widest selections of possible plants. Include big leaf hosta with dramatic foliage in this area of the garden as well as lilies with fragrant, delicate flowers. Annuals that tolerate dappled shade include impatiens, begonia and pansies.
Medium shade features four to six hours of shade each day. Plants placed in this type of garden should be adjusted to the lowered light level but tolerant of some angled sunlight. Medium shade occurs under thick tree canopies and under structures. Bleeding heart thrives in this environment, producing heart-shaped dangling flowers in pink and white. Hosta will also work well in the medium shade garden as the foliage receives considerable protection from the burning sun. Include the stately foxglove and columbine with its interesting pointy flowers in the medium shade garden. Groundcovers also work well in medium shade. Vinca minor features shiny dark green leaves and a light purple flower or choose blue fescue ornamental grass to add texture to the medium shade garden.
Dense shade refers to an area of the landscape that receives no direct sun. This area might be located beside a structure or under the dense canopy of trees. Plants receive no direct sunlight and as a result, must be tolerant of harsh conditions. Hosta tolerates deep shade, as does begonia as long as soil conditions have adequate organic matter and moisture. Other annuals for dense shade include coleus and caladium featuring variegated large foliage. Ground covers include English ivy and liriope ornamental grass that will mound in the shade garden. Lady fern and Japanese fern perform beautifully in the shade garden, adding dainty foliage in bright green to accent other plants. Remember that dense shade plants compete with trees providing the shade. Work extra organic material into the shade garden bed to promote healthy growth in your new plants.