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Drought Tolerant Shade Plants

By April Sanders ; Updated September 21, 2017

Most gardens and landscapes have at least one or two shady areas, such as the space under a tree or a secluded corner of the garden that is under the shadow of the house. The good news is that there are numerous plants that will grow--and thrive--in the shade. The better news is that some of these plants are even drought tolerant.


The hardy and beautiful hosta is smart choice for a dry shade garden. While they need water to become established, they are strong performers at maturity and need only a little bit of mulch in the spring to keep them happy. Try planting the Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' for its blue-toned leaves, or a variegated variety like H. ventricosa 'Aureo-marginata.'


Hellebores are flowering perennials that thrive in the shade and even in drought conditions. These early-spring blooming flowers have small, bell-shaped blossoms. In the summer when the flowers have faded, the attractive evergreen foliage remains visually interesting. Hellebores for dry shade include the lenten rose and the Corsican hellebore.

Wild Strawberry

The wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) prefers moist soil interspersed with periods of dry soil and can handle long periods of drought well. This strawberry is low growing and spreads fast. It blooms with white flowers in the spring and produces small, edible strawberries in the summer, after which it will go dormant.


Pinks (Dianthus), or carnations, are an extremely popular, old-fashioned plant. There are more varieties than can be counted, and more are introduced every year. While pink is still the most popular color (hence the name), these perennial flowers come in a wide range of colors. These are extremely hardy plants that thrive in shady conditions and can withstand even long periods of drought. Pinks bloom in the spring, and then again later in the summer if the wilted flowers are cut back.