20 Plants for Where the Sun Don't Shine

Hardy, shade plants and flowers bring beautiful blooms even to those parts of your backyard that receive little light. Read on for a list of plants that don't need sun to grow.

No Sun? No Problem!

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Plants That Don't Need Sun

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.

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Hydrangeas

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Hydrangeas Shade Plants

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.


Related: 10 Plants to Grow for a Pest-Proof Yard

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Chaenomeles

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Chaenomeles Shade 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

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Lady Ferns

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Lady Ferns Shade Plants

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.


Related: 8 Top Tools for Taming Your Landscape

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Burning Hearts

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Dicentra Plants for Shade

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.


Related: The Invincible Yard: 17 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping

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Dogwood

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Dogwood Plants for Shade

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.


Related: 15 No-Effort Plants for a Foolproof Landscape

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Begonias

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Begonia Plants That Don't Need Sun

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.


Related: Liven Up Your Winter Porch with 8 Cold-Loving Plants

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Dutchman's Pipe

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Dutchman's Pipe Shade 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.


Related: 10 Common Garden Problems—and How to Fix Them

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Impatiens

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Impatiens Plants for Shade

One of the most ubiquitous flowers in the U.S., impatiens is also one of the most shade tolerant. Over one thousand species are available; experiment with an exotic variety, such as Impatiens balsamina or Impatiens rosulata. Available from Burpee; $19.99 for three plants.

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Foamflower

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Tiarella Shade Plant

The forgiving foamflower boasts two especially appealing attributes. One, its attractive flower grow tall and two, it can cover large areas of your shaded garden with subtly enchanting foliage. Available on Etsy; $7 for five bulbs.

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Astilbe

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Astilbe Plants for Shade

Tough enough to handle shady spots with moist or wet soil, astilbe—instantly recognizable by virtue of its colorful spikes—arrests the eye when grown in clumps, so be sure to divide this perennial once fall comes around again. Available from The Home Depot; $19.39 for five roots.

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Coleus

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Coleus Shade Plants

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.


Related: 10 Fast-Growing Plants for (Almost) Instant Curb Appeal

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Pulmonaria

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Pulmonaria Shade Plants

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.


Related: The Best 10 Plants to Grow for Backyard Privacy

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Hellebore

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Hellebore Plants for Shade

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.


Related: 11 Age-Old Gardening Tips to Ignore Completely

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Toad Lily

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Toad Lily Plant for Shade

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.


Related: 14 Totally Free Ways to Grow a Garden from Scratch

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Caladium

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Caladium Plant for Shade

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

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Bee Balm

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Bee Balm shade plant

Bee balm does best in a sunny corner of the yard, but it can tolerate shade quite well. A member of the mint family, this pollinator plant will spread, so divide it every few years to bring bright color to adjacent garden beds. Available from Burpee; $13.99 for one plant.

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Lily of the Valley

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Lily of the Valley Shade Plant

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.

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Myrtle

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Myrtle shade plant

Growing in sun or shade, myrtle is a drought-tolerant shrub that does best in temperate climes. Deer- and disease-resistant, it can grow to be 8–12 feet high and makes an attractive hedge. Available from Burpee; $15.99 for one plant.

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Hosta

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Hosta shade plant

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

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Heuchera

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Heuchera shade plant

Also known as coral bells or alumroot, these low-habit plants provide seasonal color even when not in bloom with their dark purple foliage. Heuchera is resistant to drought and can be grown in full sun or shade. Available from Burpee; $13.99.

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Acting Shady

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Acting Shady

There are so many shade tolerant plants to choose from for your landscape.

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