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Plants for shade

Plants for Shade


Most gardeners have at least one difficult spot in their garden. One of the most challenging is the shade cast by buildings and trees. A shady spot can be difficult for plants as it creates a cool environment and is often coupled with dry soil or very damp soil. However there are many plants that will tolerate these conditions so those areas needn’t remain bare!


Top tips for designing a shady garden:

  1. If you have a tree which is casting shade, try removing the bottom layer of branches to raise the canopy up and allow more light in.
  2. Brighten up the area by using pale stones, gravel or paving slabs to reflect light. You could also incorporate mirrors for a contemporary look! A pond or water feature is also a good way to reflect light and could be used to add a gentle trickling sound to your garden.
  3. Use plants with light or colourful foliage to lift your planting scheme. A good example is Milium effusum ‘Aureum’ which has bright yellow-green leaves.
  4. Plant pale flowers which will stand out and gleam in the border. Dark flowers will disappear in the gloom.
  5. If you would like a lawn, make sure you choose a seed mix or turf which is suitable for shady areas.
  6. Use texture to make the border more eye-catching. Incorporate different leaf shapes such as ferns, Hostas and grasses with your flowering plants.
  7. Try painting your walls, sheds or fences with a pale colour to instantly brighten the area. Try following the colour scheme of your planting to create harmony.

Plants for dry shade

Dry shade often occurs in urban gardens at the base of walls that face away from the direction of the wind, so are sheltered from the rain. Dry shade also occurs beneath large trees with shallow roots. The leaves prevent rain reaching the ground and the soil moisture is further depleted by the shallow root system of the tree. These problems may be further exacerbated if your soil is sandy or shallow and chalky.

The most important thing to do before planting is to improve your soil’s ability to hold water by digging in lots of organic matter (such as well-rotted manure or compost) during the spring or autumn. It is also worth adding a mulch around the base of your plants in the spring or autumn, after the soil is damp from seasonal rainfall. Suitable mulches include organic matter, decorative stones, gravel or bark chips. Another trick is to create a wide planting hole and line it with perforated polythene. Mix the excavated soil with well-rotted manure or compost before backfilling the hole. The polythene should help retain more water for the plant. Remember that new plants will have no established root system so will need consistent watering in their first season.


Plants for damp shade

Damp shade naturally occurs in areas of woodland or forest. Areas of damp shade are cool and moist environments, often suiting foliage plants such as ferns and Hostas well. In your garden these conditions may occur near water or if you have clay soil, which retains moisture well. As most plants suitable for damp shade are from woodland habitats they require a moist but well drained soil which is rich in organic matter.

As with dry shade the most important thing to do before planting is to improve your soil by digging in plenty of organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost. If you have heavy clay soil this will help improve drainage. It is also worth applying a mulch of organic matter around the base of your plants annually in the spring. This will break down over time and further improve your soil structure.

See below to find out more about plants that are suitable dry shade and damp shade:


Bulbs for shade


Bulbs for dry shadeInteresting FeaturesBulbs for damp shadeInteresting Features
Anemone nemorosa (Windflower)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringCardiocrinum (Giant Lily)Interesting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Colchicum (Autumn Crocus)Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersEranthis (Winter Aconite)Interesting Features - Winter Flowering
Cyclamen coumInteresting Features - Spring FloweringErythronium (Dog’s-tooth Violet)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop)Interesting Features - Winter FloweringFritillaria camschatcensis (Black Sarana)Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Hyacinthoides non-scripta (English Bluebell)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringGalanthus nivalis (Snowdrop)Interesting Features - Winter Flowering
  Scilla bifolia (Alpine Squill)Interesting Features - Spring Flowering


Plants for shade - Interesting features - Scented, Evergreen, Attractive Foliage, Colourful berries or fruit, Autumn Leaf Colour or Flowers, Summer Flowering, Spring Flowering, Winter Flowering

Annuals and Biennials for shade


Biennials for
dry shade
Interesting
Features
Annuals and Biennials
for damp shade
Interesting
Features
Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove)Interesting Features - Summer FloweringBegoniaInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Lunaria annua (Honesty)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringImpatiens walleriana (Busy Lizzies)Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
  MimulusInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
  Primula (Polyanthus group)Interesting Features - Spring Flowering
  Viola x wittrockiana (Pansy)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Winter Flowering


Perennials for shade


Perennials for dry shadeInteresting FeaturesPerennials for damp shadeInteresting Features
Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)Interesting Features - Summer FloweringAstilbe (False Goat’s Beard)Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Bergenia (Elephant’s Ears)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageAstrantia major (Hattie’s Pincushion)Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Brunnera macrophylla (Siberian Bugloss)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringBergenia (Elephant’s Ears)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Convallaria (Lily-of-the-Valley)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - ScentedCarex flagellifera (Sedge)Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringConvallaria (Lily-of-the-Valley)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
Dryopteris filix-mas (Male Fern)Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageGeranium sylvaticum (Wood Cranesbill)Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Epimedium (Barrenwort)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - EvergreenHosta (Plantain Lily)Interesting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Euphorbia amygdaloides (Wood Spurge)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenMilium effusum ‘Aureum’Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Geranium nodosum and Geranium phaeum (Cranesbill)Interesting Features - Summer FloweringPrimula (Primrose)Interesting Features - Spring Flowering
Liriope muscari (Big Blue Lilyturf)Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - EvergreenPulmonaria (Lungwort)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Luzula nivea (Snowy Woodrush)Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenThalictrum (Meadow Rue)Interesting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
  Tiarella cordifolia (Foam Flower)Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
  Uvularia grandiflora (Large Merrybells)Interesting Features - Spring Flowering


Shrubs for shade


Shrubs for dry shadeInteresting FeaturesShrubs for damp shadeInteresting Features
CotoneasterInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - EvergreenAucubaInteresting Features - Evergreen
Daphne laureola and Daphne ponticaInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - ScentedBuxus sempervirens (Common Box)Interesting Features - Evergreen
Eleagnus x ebbingei (Oleaster)Interesting Features - EvergreenCamelliaInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Garrya elliptica (Silk-tassel bush)Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Winter FloweringFatsia japonica (Japanese Aralia)Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Hypericum calycinum (St John’s Wort/Aaron’s Beard)Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Summer FloweringHydrangeaInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
MahoniaInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - ScentedMahoniaInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Scented
Sarcococca (Sweet Box)Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Winter FloweringSarcococca (Sweet Box)Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Winter Flowering
Symphoricarpus (Snowberry)Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Summer FloweringSkimmia japonicaInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Evergreen
ViburnumInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - ScentedSymphoricarpus (Snowberry)Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Osmanthus delavayiInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Spring FloweringViburnumInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Scented


Climbing plants for shade


Climbing plants for dry shadeInteresting FeaturesClimbing plants for damp shadeInteresting Features
Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet)Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitAkebia quinataInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Scented
Cotoneaster horizontalisInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitHedera helix (Ivy)Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Euonymus fortunei (Winter Creeper)Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageHydrangea petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea)Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’, Lonicera x tellmanniana and Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’ (Honeysuckle)Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Summer FloweringPileostegia viburnoidesInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Virginia Creeper)Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageSchizophragma hydrangeoides (Japanese Hydrangea Vine)Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Pyracantha (Firethorn)Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Summer Flowering 


Plants for north-facing walls

Every garden has a north-facing surface to contend with and one of the most common queries is which plants can be grown to cover it? Although climbers are the obvious choice, many shrubs are ideal trained as wall shrubs. Bear in mind that many plants will require support wires or a trellis in order to climb whereas others naturally cling to a surface (e.g. Ivy).


Plants for north-facing wallsInteresting Features
Akebia quinataInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
BerberisInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet)Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Chaenomeles speciosa or Chaenomeles x superba (Japanese Quince)Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Clematis alpina, Clematis armandii or Clematis montanaInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Cotoneaster horizontalisInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Euonymus fortunei (Winter Creeper)Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Hedera helix (Ivy)Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea)Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’, Lonicera x tellmanniana and Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’ (Honeysuckle)Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Virginia Creeper)Interesting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Pileostegia viburnoidesInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Pyracantha (Firethorn)Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Schizophragma hydrangeoides (Japanese Hydrangea Vine)Interesting Features - Summer Flowering

Plants for shade - Interesting features - Scented, Evergreen, Attractive Foliage, Colourful berries or fruit, Autumn Leaf Colour or Flowers, Summer Flowering, Spring Flowering, Winter Flowering


Plants for shady vegetable gardens

Many edible plants can be grown in partial shade although deep shade won’t yield good results. Some plants actually perform better with some shade from intense heat and sunlight. Although many fruiting plants are happy to grow in shady conditions they will often produce a lower yield of fruit. If a garden fence is casting the shade you can always grow climbing beans against it which will grow towards the light.


Herbs for shady gardens Vegetables for shady gardens Fruit for shady gardens 
AngelicaherbPeasvegetableStrawberriesfruit
ChervilherbParsnipsvegetableBlackcurrantsfruit
FeverfewherbCarrotsvegetableRedcurrantsfruit
Lemon BalmherbBeetrootvegetableRaspberriesfruit
LovageherbRadishesvegetableBlackberriesfruit
MintherbLettucevegetableGooseberriesfruit
ParsleyherbSalad LeavesvegetableBlueberriesfruit
SorrelherbSpinachvegetableRhubarbfruit
Sweet CicelyherbSwiss Chardvegetable  
WoodruffherbCabbagevegetable  
  Cauliflowervegetable  
  Kalevegetable  
  Broccolivegetable  
  Runner beans (light shade)vegetable  
  Mushroomsvegetable 



Plants for shady vegetable gardens - Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit


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