Dark corners and shady beds? We will show you which annual and perennial plants will thrive in your garden even without much light.
Many gardeners combine flowers and beautiful plants with sunshine. There are a lot of plants that voluntarily lead a shadowy existence – and not because they are shy or unsightly. In fact, they are a whole range of shade-loving plants that not only green dark corners in the garden, but also look wonderful. Here we share with you 16 great plants that are perfect for shady places. We have divided the shade lovers into annual and perennial plants.
Shade plants: The 8 best annual species for your garden
Colorful flowers and colorful leaves in shady places? These eight shade-loving annual plants are wonderfully suited to make beds without much light into real eye-catchers.
1. Nettle (Solenostemon scutellarioides)
Multicolored, more colorful, nettle – the colorful nettle (Solenostemon scutellarioides) lives up to its name: its colorful leaves shine in many different colors from light yellow to red to dark purple. Wild color combinations can also be found in the nettle and make it a real eye-catcher. At the same time, it is absolutely easy to care for and does not need much attention but still enriches the domestic beds with its colorful leaves.
In sunny places, however, the soft, beautiful leaves burn easily, which is why the nettle should at least grow in partial shade. They also thrive wonderfully in shady places, but there is one small downer: the darker their location, the less brightly colored their leaves.
Multicolored nettles stand out above all for their colorful leaves
The garden pansy (Viola Wittrock) is not at all stuffy, but rather beautiful, especially in spring. Especially its large flowers, which present themselves in colors ranging from snow-white to yellow to bright purple, still make the plant one of the most popular flowering plants. But its easy-care nature also makes the pansy so popular – so the plant easily forgives if you take more “stepmotherly” care of it and it doesn’t get too much attention.
You can find out here what is nevertheless important in the care of pansies. Only the right location is crucial for the little flower: the pansy feels most comfortable in light shade. If, on the other hand, you expose it to the blazing sun, it quickly loses its strength and withers.
The lobelia (Lobelia erinus), also known as the male lobelia, has become a popular balcony flower in recent years. The reason: The lobelia grows excellently even in shady locations, even if it produces more flowers in sunny places. The lobelias look good hanging for hanging baskets, but also as an underplanting of high stems or even as an upright growing variety. Especially the multitude of small, blue-violet, rarely also white flowers, which bloom from May to September, makes the lobelia a real feast for the eyes.
4. Jasmine Flowered The Nightshade
Although its name is more reminiscent of the delicate jasmine, the Jasmine Flowered Nightshade (Solanum laxum), also known as Summer Jasmine, is actually a close relative of the potato and is also called Potato Shrub because of the similarity of its large white flowers to the latter.
The plant also resembles other nightshade plants in the choice of its location: Jasmine-flowered nightshade likes it warm and sheltered, but not necessarily sunny – the plant does wonderfully well even in light shade. Only the plant does not tolerate frost at all. It should therefore be wintered indoors or planted as an annual.
Otherwise, the Jasminblütige nightshade is very robust and easy to care for. Only a climbing aid and regular pruning should be given to the plant – otherwise, the climbing plant, which can develop ten-meter-long tendrils, grows quickly over the gardener’s head.
5. Browallia Americana
Browallia Americana is hardly known in Germany, which is why the flower has no German name. However, the plant has a lot to offer and great potential to become a popular summer bloomer: Its light purple flowers appear in July and bloom tirelessly until the first frost.
Thanks to its beautiful color it is very similar to the forget-me-not, which is why it is also called “Jamaican forget-me-not”. But also its ability to thrive in shady places makes Browallia Americana a great plant that turns dark corners into real eye-catchers.
6. Polka Dot Plant
No more boring, single-colored plants: Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) or flamingo plant, freckle face, measles plant, pink dot does not only confess color but is also characterized by pretty dots on its leaves. With its pretty white or red coloration and its interesting pattern, the dot leaf has managed to become a very popular houseplant. But it is also a welcome guest in the garden.
It is very easy to care for and robust, but it does not tolerate colder temperatures and is therefore particularly suitable as a potted plant that can be brought into the house as required. The dot leaf prefers half-shade or light shady locations – if it gets too much light, it can suffer burns. If it receives too little light, however, its foliage coloration becomes less intense.
7. Busy Lizzie (Impatiens walleriana)
If you expect a long, beautiful flower from your plant, you will make the right decision with the industrious Lieschen (Impatiens walleriana): This perennial plant blooms from May to October and even increases its flowering abundance during the summer.
But it is not only its enormous flowering joy but also the beauty of its flowers, which have an enormous luminosity, that makes the Busy Lizzie a real eye-catcher. In light shade, the intense coloration of the flowers even increases and provides a colorful light catch in dark corners. However, the plant cannot tolerate the blazing sun – direct sunlight can cause burns to the sensitive leaves.
She is the queen of the shade-loving plants: The fuchsia is not only beautiful but also one of the most popular balcony plants. But it is also a real eye-catcher in the garden and is an excellent eye-catcher for shady places, as it thrives especially well even without much light. Contrary to popular belief, the fuchsia is not only a pure shade plant.
Certain fuchsia varieties can also tolerate sunlight well as long as their environment and care are adapted to them. Also, its appearance is influenced by the variety of this species – so the fuchsia varies from the small Fuchsia procumbens, which feels most comfortable in rock gardens, to the Fuchsia excorticata, which grows to a magnificent tree with a height of almost ten meters.
All varieties, however, combine the delicate bell-shaped flowers that give the flower its special charm. The often two-tone flowers shine in a variety of colors and often sit in their hundreds on the branches of the decorative plant.
Shade Plants: The Best 8 Perennial Species For Your Garden
Do you want to permanently embellish your shady garden with colorful plants? We show you eight perennial, shade-loving plants that you should not miss.
1. Purple Bells
Tiny bell flowers in white, pink, or red – the beauty of the purple bell (heuchera) can hardly be denied. But the plant’s lobed foliage alone makes for its high ornamental value. After all, it shines in bright colors ranging from green to red to violet and often also has an elegant pattern.
The location of the plant is directly related to the color of its leaves: While yellow- and green-leaved varieties prefer shade or partial shade, red-leaved varieties should always be placed in a sunny location so that their leaves get the most intense coloration possible.
But yellow- and green-leaved varieties should not be left completely in the dark either, as they often stop flowering in too little light. The purple bell tolerates a bright but shady place very well as a rule.
The Hosta not only captivates with its hanging bellflowers, but is also a real eye-catcher, especially because of its unusual leaves: The heart-shaped columnar leaves not only show their color and appear in cream white, steel blue, or various shades of green but are usually also decoratively patterned.
These characteristics made the funky a popular indoor plant for a long time. But also in the garden, it can be cultivated wonderfully and is almost indispensable for shady forests or Japanese gardens. The Hosta is also excellently suited as a hardy pot plant because it is extremely resistant and robust as long as it is not exposed to the blazing sun.
3. Lungwort Plant
A beautiful plant carpet, which convinces not only with pretty flowers but also with decorative leaves? This can only be the Lungwort Plant (Pulmonaria). This plant, which is rather small with a maximum height of 30 centimeters, is the perfect ground cover for greening shady beds. Pulmonaria feels particularly at home under deciduous trees or shrubs, as it has enough light for rich flowering in early spring, but is protected from strong sunlight in summer.
But even in permanent shade the Lungwort usually copes well. From March to April, the red, purple, blue, and (rarely) white flowers appear, which are among the first messengers of spring. Some varieties even change their flower color within the flowering period, which makes them a very special eye-catcher. But even after flowering the lungwort is not to be scoffed at: Many varieties have white-spotted or silver-gray leaves, which are also extremely decorative.
Hellebore, Christmas rose, water lily, or snow lily: The genus hellebore (Helleborus) has many names and is widespread from Europe to Asia with 15 to 25 species and countless varieties and breeds. Especially among gardeners, this genus is still very popular.
Not least their early flowering makes the Helleborus species popular garden flowers. The first one is the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger), which reliably blooms around Christmas time. Between February and April, the Lenzrosen (Helleborus Orientalis hybrids) and the smelly Nieswurz (Helleborus foetidus) bloom, which gives off a slightly unpleasant smell.
Almost all hellebore species are characterized by dark green foliage and beautiful flowers, which make them real eye-catcher, especially in the snow. Since they also prefer shady places, they are perfect for spring in the shade garden.
5. Astilbe Flowers
Bright, feathery flower panicles from June to September: hardly any other perennial blooms as impressively as the astilbe (Astilbe), also known as the splendorpire, even in the deepest shade. Depending on the variety, the upright standing plants reach a height of 10 to 100 centimeters and flower in a color spectrum ranging from white to carmine red and violet. But not only the inflorescences beautify the shade garden immensely: If you leave the flowers on the plant, beautiful fruit develops, which also decorates the garden in winter.
6. Foam Flowers
They live up to their name: almost like the whitecaps of the sea, the beds with foamy flowers (Tiarella) look like the sea when they are in full bloom. The countless small flowers in white or pale pink sit in loose clusters on the plant from May to August and create this extraordinary picture. The foamy flower spreads particularly quickly, but only reaches a maximum height of up to 30 centimeters.
At the same time, the foam flower thrives wonderfully in the shade and is extremely easy to care for. For these reasons, it is particularly popular as a decorative ground cover under shrubs and trees. But also in contrast to other flowering shrubs, the foam flower makes an extremely good impression and can be used to beautify shady beds.
7. Forest Lily
Beautiful white flowers and up to ten centimeters large bracts – the large-flowered forest lily (Trillium grandiflorum) is an absolute eye-catcher. But other forest lilies (Trillium), colloquially also called three-leafed, are in no way inferior to their big sister: both the impressive flowers and the three hypsophylls, which protrude almost horizontally from the stem of the plant, can be found in all species and make them a welcome decoration for the garden.
Especially in shady places, preferably as an underplanting for deciduous trees, the Forest Lily feels extremely well and delights us with its majestic sight. But despite its radiant beauty, the forest lily is anything but sophisticated. On the contrary: once grown, it needs very little care and is very hardy. Only in dry summers does the plant need regular watering, as it does not like dryness.
8. Asian Bleeding-Heart
Easy-care, romantic, extravagant – the Asian Bleeding (or Flaming) Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) with its extraordinary flower shape is a real beauty in the realm of plants. As the name suggests, the flower with its shape and its pink and white color reminds one of a heart, which gives it a very romantic touch. This dreamy charm is further enhanced by the arching, overhanging shoots, from each of which hangs almost a dozen flowers.
What makes the Asian Bleeding Heart particularly attractive, however, is that this beautiful plant is both robust and beginner-friendly at the same time: in a shady, sheltered spot, the perennial only needs to be fertilized about every two years and watered on very hot days – no more care is needed.