Plants That Love Shade & Acidic Soil
When buying plants for a shady area with acid soil, check the labels for notes, such as “partial shade,” “filtered shade,” “shade loving,” “prefers pH of 6.0 or below,” or “acid loving.” The plants listed here will give you a good start on a shade-loving, acid-loving garden. Consult your local county extension office for suggestions of other plants suitable for your area.
Azaleas and Rhododendrons
Azaleas and rhododendrons can grow in any type of shade, although flowering may be less in full shade. Both grow and bloom better in acid soil. There are deciduous and evergreen varieties of both species, as well as types that bloom in the spring or the fall. Azaleas and rhododendrons grow from 2 to 10 feet tall and wide, depending on the variety.
Camellias and Gardenias
Camellias and gardenias are evergreen shrubs that grow from 3 to 10 feet tall, and 3 to 6 feet wide, depending on the variety. Both are acid-loving plants and will tolerate full shade, but prefer partial to light shade. Camellias bloom in late fall to early winter with flowers in shades of red, pink and white. Gardenias have fragrant, creamy white blooms in the summer.
Hydrangeas prefer partial to light shade. They are deciduous shrubs that grow 3 to 6 feet tall and wide. Mophead hydrangeas have large round clusters of flowers, while Lacecap Hydrangeas have flat clusters of flowers. Hydrangea flowers grown in acid soil are blue. Lower pH results in darker blue flowers, while pH that is neutral or alkaline causes the flowers to turn purple or pink.
Perennial flowers bring bright color to the shaded garden area. The leaves seem to glow in full to partial shady conditions in USDA zones 4 through 8, with yellow blossoms appearing from late spring to early summer. Many ferns grow in cool moist shade, giving landscapes a lush temperate rainforest feel. “ This 20-inch-tall and 24-inch-wide fern grows in dense shade as an evergreen in USDA zones 9 through 11. “ Ursula’s Red” Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. Drew’s Blue Siberian carpet cypress (Microbiota decussata “Condrew”) is a cold-hardy evergreen conifer with bluish-green needles, turning maroon in the winter. This tall shrub covers itself with green needles that are heat and drought tolerant.
- Ohio State University Extension
- The Morton Arboretum: Plants for Shady Sites
- Monrovia: Winterglow Bergenia
- Fine Gardening: Lamium Galeobdolon “Hermann’s Pride” (Deadnettle, Yellow Archangel)
- Monrovia: “Austral Gem” Bird’s Nest Fern
- Fine Gardening: Athyrium Niponicum Var. Pictum “Ursula’s Red” (“Ursula’s Red” Japanese Painted Fern)
- Monrovia: Drew’s Blue Siberian Carpet Cypress
- Monrovia: Japanese Plum Yew
- Monrovia: “Mr. Goldstrike” Aucuba
- Monrovia: “Purple Stem” Sweet Box