No Fail Plants For Shade

Brighten up a shady garden with white flowers & berries & silvery leaves, which will really shine out against a background of dark foliage.

  1. Convalleria majalis (Lily of the Valley) – Fragrant waxy bells. Height 6”. Grown in pots near a favourite bench you can enjoy the fragrance without the risk of it taking over the border.
  2. Helleborus orientalis – Hardy perennial flowering from late winter to mid spring ideal for shade or semi shade in moist soils.
  3. Galanthus (Snowdrops) – These plants are better when bought ‘in the green’ in February.
  4. Vinca difformis – Periwinkles make great ground cover under shrubs, in mixed borders & in wild gardens. They tolerate most soils.
  5. Hedera helix ‘Green Ripple’ – Scrambling ivy. Good climber, or excellent ground cover. Buy a large plant for quickest coverage. Makes a wonderful backdrop to shade loving clematis.
  6. Lillium regale ‘Album’ – Do well in light shade in pots or borders, in dappled shade under trees.
  7. Primula denticulate alba (also available in red & blue) – Looks best when planted in clumps, best in humus rich moist soil.
  8. Lamium ‘Beacon Silver’ – Excellent ground cover in any soil, under planted with spring bulbs to grow up through the silver grey mass.
  9. Pieris japonica ‘Debutante’ – Compact evergreen shrub with masses of white flowers & bronzy new foliage. Needs acid soil, but is tolerant of shade & dry conditions. Grow in woodland with brightly coloured Azaleas.
  10. Pachysandra terminalis – Creeping evergreen. Weed suppressing ground cover for lime-free soils in deep shade. Look outstanding when grown under the pale stems of Silver Birch.
  11. Betula pendula – Ideal for a shady corner, create a strong vertical design element which stand out in shade
  12. Pulmonaria saccharata – Striking foliage suitable for shade.
  13. Hosta (wide range of varieties suitable) – Best grown in containers in shade. Cover top of pot with gravel, & spray the top of the pot with WD40 to prevent slug attack effectively.
  14. Digitalis – Tall spires of white foxgloves enhance effect.
  15. Meconopsis – Round blue blooms add contrast & colour.
Meconopsis Blue
Meconopsis Blue
Meconopsis Blue
Meconopsis Blue

The following plants are ideal for a north facing corner or border (Permanent shade).


  1. Aucuba japonica – Evergreen shrub, attractive foliage, with red berries. Will tolerate fairly deep shade, even dry shade once established. Height 1m – 5 years.
  2. Buxus sempervirens – Suitable for dry shade. Height 1m – 5 years.
  3. Camellia – Evergreen spring flowering shrub. Prefers acid soil.
  4. Cotoneaster – all varieties – some evergreen. Heights vary according to variety. White flowers in spring, berries in winter.
  5. Euonymus fortunei – Evergreen, attractive foliage, dry shade.
  6. Fatsia japonica – Evergreen, attractive foliage, tolerates fairly deep shade.
  7. Forsythia – Yellow Flowers in spring. Height 2m – 5 years.
  8. Hydrangea macrophylla – needs adequate moisture at all times. Flowers from July onwards.
  9. Hypericum – Yellow flowers. Provides excellent ground cover.
  10. Ilex (holly) – Evergreen, best for green leaved varieties. Although variegated leaved varieties will stand dappled shade.
  11. Lonicera pileata – best grown as a hedge or specimen for Topiary.
  12. Mahonia – all varieties – Evergreen shrub, tolerates dry, deep shade. Most attractive in winter.
  13. Paeonia – Tree peony, flowers in a range of colours.
  14. Prunus – Laurel – Evergreen shrub, dry shade, also capable of providing excellent shade. Height up to 4.8m.
  15. Pyracantha – all varieties, evergreen, creamy white flowers in April, followed by berries in winter red, orange or yellow. These spiky plants are a good deterrent against burglars.
  16. Rubus tricolor – This ornamental bramble provides excellent ground cover & acts as a defensive plant against invaders of the human kind.
  17. Sarcoccoca – absolutely brilliant evergreen shrub with the most intense perfume from white winter flowers. Dark green shiny leaves. Needs adequate moisture.
  18. Skimmia japonica – Another beautiful evergreen winter flowering shrub followed by red berries. Needs adequate moisture to start then will tolerate dry shade.
  19. Symphoricarpos – Tolerates fairly deep shade. Best grown as a hedge.
  20. Taxus baccata – Evergreen conifer tolerates deep shade.
  21. Viburnum davidii – Evergreen, needs moisture attractive foliage.
  22. Viburnum tinus – Attractive all winter long flowering evergreen shrub. A must for every garden.
Hydrangea macrophylla
Hydrangea macrophylla
Hydrangea macrophylla
Hydrangea macrophylla


  1. Bergenia – Evergreen attractive foliage, suitable for dry shade. Pretty pink/red flowers.
  2. Euphorbia Robbiae – Evergreen attractive foliage, suitable for dry shade, will tolerate fairly deep shade. Bracts, not flowers in spring.
  3. Ferns – Evergreen (some) & perennial with attractive foliage, they all tolerate fairly deep shade & need adequate moisture at all times.
  4. Geranium sylvaticum – All varieties of herbaceous geraniums are suitable for deep dry shade, have particularly attractive foliage & flower for many months in summer.
  5. Helleborus (in variety) – Evergreen, attractive foliage on all varieties. Suitable for dry shade. Flowers in a wide range of colours.
  6. Hosta (in variety) – need adequate moisture at all times. Attractive foliage. Lilac flowers in summer.
  7. Pachysandra – Evergreen attractive foliage. Suitable for dry shade. Small white flowers on this low growing perennial.
  8. Saxifraga – Evergreen spring flowering spreading perennial.
  9. Vinca major – Evergreen, suitable for dry shade. Attractive blue flowers when you least expect them.
  10. Vinca minor

The following plants are ideal for an east facing border or under small deciduous trees (dappled or partial shade).


  1. Acer (Japanese) – Attractive foliage, needs adequate water supply.
  2. Arbutus unedo – Evergreen, attractive leaves with flowers & berries.
  3. Cotoneaster – Evergreen (some) with flowers in spring followed by flowers.
  4. Ilex (green leaved) Evergreen with attractive foliage & (some) berries.
  5. Salix hakuru nishiki – Attractive leaves. Needs copious amounts of water.
  6. Trachycarpus fortunei – Attractive palm leaves.
  7. Some half standard grafted shrubs may also be suitable e.g. Forsythia, Pyracantha, Viburnum or Euonymus.


  1. Bamboos (various) – Evergreen, attractive leaves. Needs adequate water supply.
  2. Amelanchier canadensis
  3. Cornus
  4. Daphne
  5. Escallonia (species)
  6. Forsythia
  7. Fuchsia
  8. Osmanthus heterophyllus
  9. Pernettya in variety
  10. Rubus species (ornamental bramble)
  11. Weigela species
  12. Yucca species

These plants need morning shade or light shade to protect from the sun in winter.


  1. Camellia
  2. Chaenomeles
  3. Choisya ternate
  4. Hamamelis
  5. Hebe in variety
  6. Magnolia species
  7. Philadelphus
  8. Pieris in variety


Nancee Crowley

Nancee Crowley

My name is Nancee Crowley, I look forward to and welcome your comments and will try my best to answer any questions that you may have. Thank you for visiting and do come back often! Happy Gardening!

Read Previous

Pruning climbing plants

Read Next

Shrub & Tree planting made easy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *