What Plants Like Shade?


Flower gardens in yards that are heavily shaded and foundation plantings along the north side of a building require shade-loving plants. There is a wide variety of plants that thrive in shady or partially shady settings. When combining several different types of plants, choose plants that will complement each other both in color and growth habit.

Bleeding Heart

  • Bleeding hearts (Dicentra species) are herbaceous perennials that do well in shady or partly shady areas. The Dicentra spectabilis grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet. The blooms are pink and white, produced in a row on long wiry stems in the spring. The Alba cultivar grows to a height of 2 to 2½ feet. It blooms in the spring and produces white heart-shaped flowers. Bleeding hearts' medium-green foliage is deeply cut and delicate looking, but the plants go dormant in the summer heat. These are excellent companion plants to hostas which will grow to fill in the bare spots left by the dormant bleeding hearts.


  • Hostas are herbaceous perennials that thrive in shady locations and there are a great many from which to choose. The Gypsy Rose cultivar grows to a height of 12 to 20 inches. They bloom in June and July with an occasional re-bloom in the fall, producing lavender bell-shaped flowers atop 3-foot stems. The foliage provides a colorful display even when the plant is not blooming with its variegated leaves. The centers of the leaves are creamy gold to pale green outlined in dark green. The Dorset Blue cultivar is a shorter variety that reaches a mature height of 6 to 8 inches. It blooms in July and August, producing white blooms with 12-inch stems. The foliage of Dorset Blue is a solid blue-green color.

Japanese Rose

  • The Japanese rose (Kerria japonica) is a deciduous shrub that will thrive in partial or full shade. This shrub grows to a height of 3 to 6 feet and width of 6 to 9 feet. The Simplex cultivar produces an abundance of bright yellow 1-3/4-inch diameter flowers in the spring and occasionally again during the summer. The Albescens cultivar produces creamy yellow 2-inch diameter flowers and grows 4 to 5 feet in height.

Lady Fern

  • Lady Ferns (Athyrium filix-femina) are deciduous plants that drop their leaves in the winter and grow anew in the spring. These are excellent companion plants for bleeding hearts as the fern foliage will be in full swing when the bleeding heart goes dormant. There are many types of ferns which generally thrive in shady locations. The Northern lady fern grows to about 3 feet tall with pale green foliage, while the Lady in Red cultivar grows to 18 to 30 inches tall and has burgundy-red stripes on its pale lacy green leaves. The Frizelliae, or tatting fern, grows to 12 inches tall. These ferns do not produce flowers but the foliage provides an interesting backdrop for other flowering plants.

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  • Photo Credit lily of the valley image by Olena Turovtseva from Fotolia.com tränendes Herz, bleeding heart image by Cornelia Pithart from Fotolia.com Hosta image by Michele Maakestad from Fotolia.com Yellow Flower image by Panupong Eiamtaecha from Fotolia.com fern on the spring foresr image by Galyna Andrushko from Fotolia.com
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