No Sun? No Problem!
No, not every plant wants all sunshine, all the time. Many lovely, low-maintenance options exist for those miscellaneous low-light parts of your landscape. Click through to see ten sensational shade plant species that thrive without much light.
Though unfit for heavy shade, hydrangeas deliver bountiful blooms in spring and summer, with some pretty fall foliage to boot. All they need is a little morning sun. Remember to avoid planting perennials too near a tree whose roots might compete for soil nutrients. Available from The Home Depot; $29.97 for a one-gallon plant.
Only some species can withstand the relatively sunless and cold conditions of a north-facing wall. Chaenomeles (flowering quince) are perfect plants for shade. These hardy flowers can not only survive, but they do so with gusto, rewarding gardeners with a fragrant golden-yellow fruit. Available from Amazon; $18.95 for three plants.
Related: 10 "Zero Dollar" Garden Hacks
Ferns—Lady ferns, especially—come about as close as any plant gets to being able to grow in total darkness. The playful fronds of this hardy shade plant initially develop in a pleasing shade of light green, then darken as the fern matures. Available from Burpee; $11.49 per plant.
In many hardiness zones,‘Burning Hearts’ dicentra carries its deep red, heart-shaped flowers from spring through early summer. Satisfyingly easy to grow, this exotic-looking perennial shade plant stands out from the rest in low-light garden beds. Available from The Home Depot; $14.98 per bare root plant.
Many dogwood varieties don't need sun and will tolerate partial- to full-shade conditions. One spectacular species to try is Cornus florida, whose reddish-purple fall color is surpassed only by its famous white flowers in spring. Available on Amazon; $10.95 per 6-12-inch tree.
Use begonias to add vibrancy to container gardens placed in shady spots of your patio. A range of hues appear, even in a single bloom, and if stored in a dry spot over winter, their tubers can be recycled the following year. Available from Burpee; $22.99 for 3 plants.
Known for dense foliage, unusual purple flowers, and its ability to spread, Aristolochia macrophylla, or Dutchman’s Pipe, is a fast-growing shade plant that can reach heights of up to 30 feet tall (with the right guidance) and is just one of many stunning climbers. Available on Etsy; $9.99 for one 2.5-inch pot.
Coleus doesn’t need flowers to make a colorful splash in your garden. Its leaves are flashy enough, and come in rich reds, greens, purples, yellows, and oranges—perfect for standing out among your other garden plants that don't need sun. Each variety of this plant boasts different leaf textures, whether scalloped, velvety, or fringed—and add incredible depth and variety to shady beds in any landscape. Available from Burpee; $5.19 for 20 seeds.
Known commonly as lungwort, pulmonaria has a reputation for being one of the easiest, low-light perennial plants for shade. Growing 6 to 12 inches tall, and blooming in blues, pinks, and whites, it makes an excellent ground cover to complement other early spring bloomers, like daffodils. Available at Burpee.com; $13.95 for one plant.
Hellebore is essentially evergreen and ever easy to care for. Often called Lenten rose, because they bloom early in spring close to the season of Lent, they will rouse you out of winter doldrums, and continue to bloom all season long. They love shade, but will tolerate part sun in most planting zones. Available from Burpee; $18.99 for one plant.
With orchid-like blossoms, ranging from white, to pink, to purple, the toad lily serves up exotic autumn color. This perennial enjoys full to partial shade, and will delight you every year as summer comes to an end. Available on Etsy; $7 for one plant.
Though it doesn’t flower, shade-loving caladium will treat you to robust foliage color all summer long. With varieties ranging from white, to dark reds, and brilliantly variegated, this bulb will not disappoint. This easy-care shade plant can be left in its bed at the end of the season, though it may not return the following year, or can be dug out of the ground to over-winter, and then be replanted the following spring. Available at Burpee.com; $13.95 for 12 bulbs.
Related: 15 Plants Never to Grow in Your Yard
Lily of the Valley
With delicate blooms that resemble bells, lily of the valley can spread throughout a shaded area to provide low-maintenance ground cover. Although beautiful, this flowering plant is highly poisonous, so avoid planting it if you have cats, dogs, or young children at home. Available from Burpee; $13.99 for four plants.
Shade-loving, low-maintenance hosta is a busy gardener's dream plant. Each type of hosta thrives best in slightly different light conditions: For a deeply shaded garden bed, choose hostas of a dark green color; for gardens in partial shade, opt for hostas in lighter or variegated varieties. Available from Burpee; $16.99 for one plant.
Related: 50 Plants That Thrive in Any Yard
There are so many shade tolerant plants to choose from for your landscape.
Give the special gardener in your life a little love this holiday season! Go now to see Bob Vila's best gifts for green thumbs.