Perennials for Shade

One of the most common problems with shade in the garden, is the lack of it!

In a new home, in a new subdivision, where can you grow lush leafy ferns, Astilbes and Hosta? There are so many plants that actually like shade! If you can create a garden in the shaded north side of your home, then you can enjoy a broad range of plants that thrive in shade.


All Shade is Not the Same

Part Sun - Part Shade

At our latitude in summer, even the north side of the house gets sun. Rising in the far north-east in the morning, it catches the north side and again from the northwest as it sets. Plants on the east and west side get at least six hours of sun in the summer, sufficient for all plants except the true sun worshippers.

Dry Shade and Moist Shade

Deep shade is often moist since it does not receive the sun’s heat, but it can be dry under large trees that take all available moisture. There are very many plants for moist shade; dry shade is more difficult but the problem can be overcome by watering and mulching. A good perennial for dry shade is Barrenwort (Epimedium).

Open Shade

On the north side of the house, but open to the sky. Plants listed for light shade will do well.

Medium Shade

The north side of the house, further obstructed by overhead branches. A shade-tolerant lawn grass will still grow and now we can plant Astilbe and Hosta.

Light Shade or Filtered Sunlight

Dappled shade; light or shadow move with the sun, like under a Locust or Birch. Lawn grass does well and so do most plants. Not shady enough for true shade lovers.

Deep Shade

Permanent year-round shade from buildings and large evergreens and shade trees. Usually found in the older residential areas. Grass will not grow well, but ferns will. (In the plant list below, those for deep shade are indicated with a “*”)

All shade is not the same. Deep shade is usually found in older gardens where trees are mature. In deep shade, the soil will usually be cool and moist, perfect conditions for Ferns and Hosta.


Perennials for Light Shade or Part Day Sun

(Those that can handle deep shade are marked with “*”)

  • Anchusa
  • Monarda (Bergamot)
  • Bergenia*
  • Balloon Flower
  • Carpathian Harebell and other Campanula
  • Meadowrue
  • Foxglove*
  • Trollius
  • Feverfew
  • Cimicifuga
  • Arabis
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Filipendula
  • Gold Star
  • Tall Phlox
  • Day Lily
  • Bethelehem Sage*
  • Siberian Iris
  • Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)*
  • Virginia Bluebells*
  • Astilbe*
  • Oriental Poppy
  • Marsh Marigold
  • Primrose
  • Gold Moss
  • Chives
  • Trillium
  • Planted Daisy
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Columbines
  • Gas Plant
  • Leopard’s Bane
  • Garlic Chives
  • Macleaya
  • Christmas Rose
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Hosta*
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Gooseneck and Yellow Loosestrife
  • Japanese Anemone
  • Peony
  • Brunnera
  • Solomon’s Seal*
  • Saxifrage*
  • Nepeta
  • Spiderwort*
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Viola
  • Aconitum
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Goatsbeard
  • Globe Thistle
  • Geum
  • Perennial Geraniums
  • Obedient Plant
  • Coral Bells
  • Veronica
  • Lupines
  • Purple Loosestrife


Perennials Ground Cover for Shade

  • Ajuga
  • Goutweed*
  • Crown Vetch
  • Cotoneaster
  • Duchesnea*
  • Epimedium*
  • English Ivy
  • Hall’s Honeysuckle
  • Virginia Creeper
  • Pachysandra*
  • Creeping Potentilla
  • Periwinkle
  • Euonymus
  • All ferns*
  • Many ornamental grasses
  • Sedge
  • Lily-of-the-Valley*
  • Wild Ginger
  • Wintergreen*
June 10, 2024 — Bradford Greenhouses
Tags: Spring Summer