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The Best Shade Tolerant Plants

By T.M. Samuels ; Updated September 21, 2017

The best shade tolerant plants are those that thrive in partial to full shade while still blooming and showing their best foliage. Shade tolerant means that they need little if any direct sunlight to thrive. While hostas and ferns come to mind, there are other plants that will live well in shady situations.


Fatshedera x lizei, commonly referred to as fatshedera or aralia ivy, is from the ginseng family. It is an evergreen shrub and vine crossbreed that is fast growing and easy to grow. Ivy leaves are shiny and 8 inches to 10 inches wide. The plant can grow to 6 feet or more with hairy stems and small white flowers. It is a sterile plant due to being a true hybrid (ivy and fatshedera shrub). Grow a fatshdera x lizei in partial to full shade with regular watering. Propagate via semi-ripe tip cuttings during the summer.

Dancing Ladies Ginger

Globba winitii, commonly referred to as dancing ladies ginger or dancing girls ginger, is from the ginger family. It is a perennial that is good for shady spots and for container gardening. The plant will get 2 feet tall with lance-like leaves and tiny yellow flowers on purple or white bracts. Blooms come July to fall. Grow a globba winitii in well-drained soil in full sun with regular watering. Propagate via clump division or by rhizome cuttings.

Palm Sedge

Carex phyllocephala, commonly referred to as the palm sedge, is from the sedge family. It is an evergreen grass that is good for containers and shade. Clumps are 1 foot to 2 feet tall with dark green leaves that look like a small palm tree. Grow palm sedge in partial to full shade in well-watered soils. Propagate via seed or by division.

Blue Huckleberry

Gaylussacia frondosa, commonly referred to as blue huckleberry or dangleberry, is from the heath family. It is a drought tolerant shrub that attracts birds. It will get 1.5 feet to 3 feet tall with 1- to 3-inch leaves. Flowers are urn-shaped, less than an inch and pinkish green. Berries are blue. Grow a gaylussacia frondosa in acidic well-drained soil in high shade with regular watering. Propagate via stem cuttings in spring or root mass division. Seed is a difficult propagation method for this plant.

Giant Taro

Alocasia macrorrhiza, commonly referred to as giant taro or giant elephant ear, is from the arum family. It is a shade-loving perennial. Leaves are 3 feet to 6 feet long with a 6-foot-long trunk that stands upright. The plant can reach 12 feet to 15 feet tall with 6- to 10-foot width. This plant is all about foliage. Grow an alocasia macrorrhiza in partial to full shade in well-drained rich soil that is moist. Propagate via rhizome division, seed when ripe, and stem cuttings in spring and summer.


About the Author


T.M. Samuels has been a freelance writer since 1993. She has published works in "Arthritis Today," "Alabama Living" and "Mature Years," and is the author of a gardening book. Samuels studied pre-medicine at Berry College.