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.

  1. No Sun? No Problem!

    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.


  2. Hydrangeas

    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


  3. Chaenomeles

    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


  4. Lady Ferns

    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


  5. Burning Hearts

    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


  6. Dogwood

    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


  7. Begonias

    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


  8. Dutchman's Pipe

    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


  9. Impatiens

    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.


  10. Foamflower

    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.


  11. Astilbe

    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.


  12. Coleus

    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


  13. Pulmonaria

    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


  14. Hellebore

    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


  15. Toad Lily

    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


  16. Caladium

    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


  17. Bee Balm

    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.


  18. Lily of the Valley

    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.


  19. Myrtle

    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.


  20. Hosta

    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


  21. Heuchera

    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.


  22. Acting Shady

    Acting Shady

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


  23. Don't Miss!


    With a pinch of effort and almost no upkeep, you can have the lush, beautiful garden of your dreams. The secret is to choose plant varieties that enjoy a little hardship. We’ve compiled the essential list of hardy flora, with tips for care and maintenance. Go now!