Got Shade? 16 Ideas for Made in the Shade Gardens

Check out these great ideas for plants and the design of a low-light garden.

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Hostas Love the Shade

Shade-loving hostas pair nicely with other shade staples.

Watch the Trees

There are many plants that enjoy moist shade. It might require that some tree branches be thinned out so that shade is less dense. Soil may also need to be improved if shade plants are expected to thrive.

What to Plant in Wet Shade

Hostas and ferns thrive in the deep shade and moist soil that come with tree canopies. Also try leopard plant (Ligularia) pictured above, goat's beard (Aruncus) and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).

‘Bronze Peacock’ Rodgersia

‘Bronze Peacock’ Rodgersia pinnata likes a part shade location with wet soil, such as a water garden. Other plants that thrive at the edge of a shady pond include giant rhubarb (Gunnera manicata), sedge (Carex) and rush (Juncus effusus), which can tolerate standing water. Rodgersia is celebrated for its large, sculptural leaves.

Make Shade with Shrubs

Create shade for certain plants by using larger shrubs at the back of beds. This will create interest in garden borders.

Shade-Loving Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle does very well in shade. It produces extremely fragrant flowers followed by small red berries.

Hens and Chicks

Plants like hosta and ferns may initially come to mind when discussing shade plants, but in a dry desert climate, versatile succulents reign supreme. Sempervivum tectorum, also known as hens and chicks, are ornamental succulents that will tolerate shade and sun.

Grow Hydrangeas

As if you needed another reason to love these flowering shrubs, hydrangeas need a little shade to show off their best color, especially in hot Southern regions. The further north you live, the more sunlight they can take.

Hydrangea Path

Hydrangea 'Tardiva' and 'Annabelle' create a pretty garden path under the shade of white pine trees.

A Canopy Container Garden

A custom-built table around the base of a tree creates a unique spot for potted plants and hardy ferns at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn. We wouldn't mind kicking back in those rocking chairs, either!

Create Shade with a Pergola

This living pergola shades the garden for reading or for enjoying the natural beauty of the setting.

Colorful Coral Bells

Shade gardens don't have to skimp on color. Heucheras come in a wide variety of colors—from chartreuse to red to purple to pink—and can be paired with other vibrant foliage plants like foamflower (Tiarella) or hosta varieties.

Newly Planted Shade Garden

Hostas, bugleweed and fern rub shoulders and thrive along a new stone path. A mix of good soil and smart placement make this young shade garden look like it's been there forever.

Throwing Some Shade

By combining hardy ferns, ligularia, variegated Solomon's seal and others, there's no denying that this would be a sweet spot to relax on a hot summer day.

Grow Lettuce

Lettuces need cool temperatures and low-light to thrive, making them a great edible addition to a shade garden. Try growing cut-and-come-again salad mixes in pots at the edges of your garden for a visual treat and easy harvesting access.

Tropical Retreat

This Jamie Durie makeover quickly turned a shady yard into an asset by including lush tropical plants separated by concrete pavers, a floating lounge and daybed. 

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