colourful shady border plants

11 Shady Border Plants For Your Garden

Although having a shady spot in your garden may seem detrimental, gardening in the shade isn’t any different to gardening in the sun. There are plants that love the shade, and there are plants that hate the shade, just like the sun. However, finding the right plants to grow in the shade, particularly in your garden borders, can be tricky. You need plants that can cope with full or partial shade but still look fantastic and bring some personality into your garden. Fortunately, we have just what you’re looking for! Here are 11 of the best shady border plants you can include in your garden borders for a bit of excitement.  

1.   Chinese Fairy Bells

Chinese fairy bells may sound sweet and dainty, but they can reach a maximum height of 5 feet tall, so you’ll need plenty of space[i]! However, Chinese fairy bells are fantastic shady border plants, though their height means you would be best planting them in the middle or closer to the back of your border. Fortunately, they are very tolerant of shade, although they have a preference for part shade. Plus, Chinese fairy bells are virtually disease free! But you should keep an eye out for vine weevils and slugs.

2.   Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’

johnsons-blue-geraniums

Look no further than this cranesbill geranium for clump-forming shady border plants to add to your garden. The geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ is a hardy plant that produces beautiful blue-purple blooms from May to August. And, if you’re aiming to run an environmentally friendly garden, this flower will fit right in since it is a pollinator that will attract bees and other healthy insects to your garden. However, due to its slightly sprawling nature, you would be best planting geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ at the front of borders or flower beds in partial shade.

3.   Soft Shield Fern

Planting native plants is always best, and the lovely soft shield fern is a British native you’ll love in your garden. This evergreen plant provides lush colour and texture all year round and would be wonderful planted as a backdrop for colourful flowers in your border. Fortunately, the soft shield fern thrives in full or partial shade, making it one of the best shady border plants to include in your flower beds. Plus, soft shield ferns are generally pest-free when grown outdoors, so you won’t have to worry about pest control with this pretty plant.

4.   Japanese Anemones

japanese-anemones

Japanese Anemones are beautiful plants that produce daisy-like flowers long into autumn, providing late interest to borders. These shady border plants have one of the longest blooming seasons of 6 – 8 weeks during late summer and early autumn for long-term colour in your border. Once they have settled in, Japanese Anemones are hardy and versatile and can thrive in almost any condition, from full sun to partial shade. However, they do prefer drier conditions, so you may be better off planting them by fences or walls for optimum conditions. They also have a tendency to spread, so ensure they have plenty of room.  

5.   Chinese Virginia Creeper

A low-maintenance climbing plant, the Chinese Virginia creeper produces pretty red flowers during summer. It also maintains green foliage through spring and summer until autumn, when it turns a charming bronze red. As well as lovely flowers and foliage, the Chinese Virginia creeper produces small dark blue berries during autumn. However, these are poisonous and should not be consumed by either animals or humans. It would be best to plant the Chinese Virginia creeper towards the back of your borders by a fence or wall so it has room to grow to its potential full height of 12 metres[ii].

6.   Caladiums

pink-calladiums

Caladiums are the perfect shady border plants, as their eye-catching green leaves, speckled with shades of pink, green, white, cream and red, make quite a statement. When paired with other shady border plants, caladiums will serve as both a backdrop and focal point, blending together to create the perfect finish. Caladiums require at least partial shade in a sheltered location. However, the Caladium is listed in the Horticultural Trades Association Guide To Potentially Harmful Plants, so make sure to handle it with gloves and keep children and pets away.

7.   Flowering Tobacco

Flowering tobacco, or Nicotiana, is an ornamental annual that provides long-lasting colour and fragrance. Available in a range of sizes and colours, Nicotiana is perfect for filling gaps in borders and will provide plenty of height for summer displays. For shady borders, the best type of flowering tobacco to plant is Nicotiana Sylvestris, the woodland tobacco plant, since this variety enjoys partial or dappled shade the most.

8.   Hellebores

pink hellebore plant

Hellebores are fantastic plants for shady borders since they bloom in late winter through to early spring, providing some much-needed colour during the less bright months. Different varieties of hellebores bloom in different colours, from classic white to edgy black. Plus, most hellebores can tolerate conditions from full sun to full shade, although they will thrive best in partial shade. Once established, hellebores are relatively low maintenance, but they are poisonous to humans and animals.

9.   Coral Bells

Coral bells enjoy partial to full shade, so they are perfect for brightening up a shady border. These perennials are evergreen and will provide plenty of colours all year round, with foliage colours ranging from green to purple and flowers available in a variety of bright shades. Since coral bells grow naturally in woodland, they will thrive in partial to full shade. Their mounding habit and evergreen foliage make coral bells a perfect addition to an orchard garden too.   

10.   Bleeding Hearts

bleeding heart plant

Bleeding hearts are a beautiful addition to any garden, with their distinctive heart-shaped flowers growing on arching stems and blueish-green foliage. Fortunately, they prefer shady or part shade areas but will need regular watering to keep the soil consistently moist. Bleeding hearts will flower in April and May and will die back to the ground when summer begins. When this happens, you can cut the foliage back, but don’t do so until it turns yellow or brown.

11.   Hosta

If you’re looking for shady border plants to bring texture to your border, Hosta is what you’re looking for. This perennial produces purple or white flowers on its tall stems during summer. However, the shade requirements of Hosta depend significantly on their colour. To choose the best plant for a shady border, you should choose varieties with darker foliage. The deeper, darker foliage will maintain itself in moderate shade. But no Hosta variety will survive in full sun.

Choose From Our Selection of Plants For Shady Borders

There are plenty of shady border plants that you can choose from, but our selection will definitely provide interest and variety in your garden. Whether you’re trying to brighten up a border in partial shade or full shade, we’re sure that some of these plants will fulfil your needs. So, choose from our best plants for shady borders, and prepare for a charming display all year round.

Plants For Shady Borders FAQs

What can I grow in a shaded border?

In a shaded border, you can grow various plants that thrive in low light conditions. Some suitable options include Hostas, Ferns, Astilbes, Bleeding Hearts and Lungwort.

How do you brighten a shady border?

To brighten a shady border and add more visual interest, you could try choosing plants with colourful foliage, using plants with vibrant blooms, adding reflective elements or using light-coloured mulch

What can I plant in a shady damp corner?

For a shady damp corner, you can consider plants that thrive in moist soil conditions. Some suitable options include Ferns, Ligularia, Japanese Primrose, Rodgersia and Astilboides tabularis.

Can you plant hebes in shade?

Hebes generally prefer full sun or partial shade, so while they can tolerate some shade, they perform best in areas with at least a few hours of direct sunlight. If the shaded area receives minimal sunlight, it might be better to choose alternative plants that are more shade-tolerant.

What are good year round plants for shaded areas?

For year-round interest in shaded areas, you can consider planting evergreen ferns, Bergenia, Hellebores, Coral Bells and English Ivy.


[i] https://www.gardenia.net/plant/disporum-cantoniense-chinese-fairy-bells

[ii] https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/212831/cissus-henryana-hort/details

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