Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Choose Shade Plants in Indiana

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017
Bleeding hearts grow well in the shade in Indiana.
Bleeding Hearts image by ssquared from Fotolia.com

Indiana consists of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 and 6, with most of the state in zone 5 but a portion of southern Indiana in zone 6. If you have a shady area in your garden or yard, you will have to find plants that tolerate shade and will grow well in your climate. Provided that you take good care of the plants you finally buy, you will have an Indiana garden that thrives.

Select perennials hardy to your zone or colder if you want them to be permanent fixtures in your garden. For example, if you live in zone 5 in Indiana, choose plants rated to zone 5 or colder, such as zone 4. They will survive the winter months and return the next spring. Perennial plants hardy to all of Indiana and shade tolerant are rose mallows, woolly blue violets and bleeding hearts, to name a few.

Choose annuals, which have 1-year life cycles. This means that they are planted in the spring, die in the fall and will have to be replaced the next spring. Annuals that grow in Indiana and are tolerant of shade are dragon wing begonias, sweet potato vines and lavender lace, to name a few. You can also choose perennial flowers not rated cold hardy in your zone and grow them as if they were annuals--plant them in the spring, discard them in the fall after they die and replace them in the spring.

Read the light requirements for the plants and compare them with the number of hours of sunlight your shady area actually receives. Full shade means the plants need up to two hours of sunlight per day. Partial shade means they need two to four hours of sunlight per day, and partial sun means they need four to six hours of sunlight per day.

Buy your shade plants. Shade plants are displayed separately at nurseries from plants that require full sun. A rooflike structure made of mesh or screen usually provides the shade at a nursery. Plants sold in an Indiana nursery should be suitable for your Indiana climate, especially if it is close to your home. Double-check with the tags that accompany the plants and with a nursery worker, if necessary.


About the Author


Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.