Creating a beautiful and vibrant garden can be challenging, especially when dealing with a shady border. However, with the right plants, it is possible to add a pop of colour to even the darkest corners of your garden.
Whether you are looking to add some excitement to a dull spot in your yard or simply want to create a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere, choosing the best plants for your shady border can make all the difference.
In this article, we will explore the best plants to add colour to a shady border, providing you with inspiration and ideas to create a stunning garden that you can enjoy all year round.
Do Many Flowers Grow Well in the Shade?
Yes, many flowers can grow well in the shade. While some flowering plants require full sun to thrive, there are many species that can tolerate or even prefer shade.
In fact, some shade-loving flowers are particularly well-suited to gardens with less sunlight because they are adapted to growing in the understory of forests and woodlands where light levels are naturally lower.
Some examples of shade-loving flowers include hellebores, bleeding hearts, astilbes, hostas, and Japanese anemones. With proper selection and care, it is possible to create a beautiful and colourful garden even in shady areas.
What to Grow in a Shaded Border UK?
We have put together a list of plants and flowers that will add a touch of colour to your shaded border in the UK.
1 – Foxgloves
Foxgloves, also known as Digitalis, are a classic cottage garden plant that can add a touch of charm and elegance to any shady border. These biennial plants produce tall spikes of tubular flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white, and can grow up to six feet tall in the right conditions.
Foxgloves will thrive in just about any position from full sun to full shade and they are tolerant of a wide range of soil types, as long as it is well-draining.
They are relatively easy to grow from seed but can also be purchased as seedlings or established plants. Foxgloves bloom in early summer and provide a vertical accent to any border or mixed planting.
They also attract pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds, making them a great addition to any wildlife-friendly garden.
Note: Foxgloves are in fact quite poisonous, so they are not a great idea if you have inquisitive young children or pets around.
2 – Bleeding Heart
Bleeding Heart, also known as Dicentra spectabilis, is a beautiful and romantic perennial that is well-suited to growing in the shade. This plant produces heart-shaped flowers in shades of pink and white that dangle from arching stems, giving it a delicate and whimsical appearance.
Bleeding heart prefers partial shade to full shade and well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It can tolerate a range of soil types but does not like to be planted in soil that is too wet or too dry.
Bleeding heart is a relatively low-maintenance plant that does not require much in the way of fertilization or pruning, making it a great choice for beginners or those looking for a low-fuss plant.
It blooms in late spring to early summer and goes dormant in the summer heat, so it is best paired with other shade-loving plants that can provide interest during the summer months.
3 – Hellebores
Hellebores, also known as Lenten Rose or Christmas Rose, are a popular choice for gardeners looking to add colour and interest to a shady border. These perennials produce beautiful, nodding flowers in shades of white, pink, purple, and green, and are often some of the earliest plants to bloom in late winter or early spring.
Hellebores prefer partial shade to full shade and well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. They are tolerant of a wide range of soil types but do not like to be planted in soil that is too dry or too wet.
Hellebores are low-maintenance plants that do not require much in the way of fertilization or pruning and can be left undisturbed for years. They are also deer and rabbit-resistant, making them a great choice for gardens with wildlife.
Hellebores are long-lived plants that can thrive for many years in the right conditions and can even self-seed to create a naturalised look in the garden.
4 – Hosta’s
Hosta’s are a classic shade-loving plant that is prized for their large, lush leaves and beautiful, delicate flowers.
These perennials are available in a wide variety of leaf colours and textures, ranging from blue-green to chartreuse, and can grow up to several feet tall and wide in the right conditions. Hostas prefer partial shade to full shade and soil that is moist but well-draining, rich in organic matter, and slightly acidic.
They are relatively low-maintenance plants that do not require much in the way of fertilisation or pruning and can be divided every few years to create new plants. Hosta’s bloom in mid- to late-summer, producing spikes of bell-shaped flowers in shades of white or lavender that are attractive to bees and butterflies.
They are also deer-resistant, which is great if you are visited by the local wildlife.
5 – Bergenia
Bergenia is a shade-loving plant that is highly valued for its attractive foliage and stunning spring flowers. These herbaceous perennial forms large clumps of glossy, deep green leaves that remain evergreen throughout the year.
In early spring, it produces tall stems that bear clusters of flowers in shades of pink, red, or white, which attract pollinators to the garden. Bergenia grows well in partial to full shade, making it an ideal choice for shady borders or woodland gardens.
It prefers moist but well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter and can tolerate a range of soil types, from sandy to clay. Bergenia is also known for its hardiness and low maintenance requirements, making it an excellent option for gardeners looking for a plant that is easy to care for.
6 – Solomon’s Seal
Solomon’s Seal is a shade-loving perennial that is highly valued for its graceful, arching stems and delicate, bell-shaped flowers. This plant typically grows up to 2-3 feet tall and spreads slowly through underground rhizomes.
It prefers partial to full shade and moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Solomon’s Seal has a unique appearance, with pairs of leaves alternating along its stem and small white or green flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer.
The flowers give way to blue-black berries in the fall, which are a favourite of birds. Solomon’s Seal is a low-maintenance plant that is relatively pest and disease-resistant, making it an excellent choice for gardeners who want an easy-to-care-for plant.
It also has a long history of medicinal use, with its roots and rhizomes used for a variety of purposes in traditional medicine.
7 – Tiarella
Tiarella, also known as foamflower, is a shade-loving perennial that is prized for its delicate, frothy-looking flowers and attractive foliage. This plant typically grows to around 8-12 inches tall and forms clumps of leaves that are typically heart-shaped and often marked with distinctive patterns.
In early to mid-spring, Tiarella produces tall stems topped with small, star-shaped flowers that can be white, pink, or lavender in colour. The flowers are held above the foliage on wiry stems, giving them a light and airy appearance.
Tiarella prefers partial to full shade and soil that is moist but well-draining and rich in organic matter. It is a relatively low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for, requiring only occasional fertilization and pruning.
Tiarella can be used as a ground cover or grown in containers, making it a versatile plant for any shady garden spot. Its delicate, frothy appearance and range of colours make it an excellent choice for your shaded border.
8 – Lungwort
Lungwort, also known as Pulmonaria, is a shade-loving perennial that is highly valued for its attractive foliage and early spring flowers.
This plant typically grows to around 8-12 inches tall and forms clumps of lance-shaped leaves that are often mottled with silver or white spots, giving them a unique appearance.
In early spring, Lungwort produces clusters of funnel-shaped flowers in shades of pink, blue, or white that attract hummingbirds and bees to the garden. The flowers are held above the foliage on sturdy stems, making them highly visible. Lungwort prefers partial to full shade and soil that is moist but well-draining and rich in organic matter.
Lungwort is also deer-resistant, making it an excellent option for gardeners who are looking for plants that are resistant to animal damage.
9 – Campanula
Campanula, also known as bellflower, is a shade-loving perennial that is highly valued for its attractive bell-shaped flowers and easy-to-grow nature.
This plant typically grows to around 1-2 feet tall and forms clumps of lance-shaped leaves that are often dark green in colour. In mid to late summer, Campanula produces tall stems topped with clusters of bell-shaped flowers in shades of blue, pink, or white.
The flowers are held above the foliage on sturdy stems, making them highly visible. Campanula prefers partial to full shade and soil that is moist but well-draining and rich in organic matter.
It is a relatively low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for, requiring only occasional fertilization and pruning. Campanula is also deer-resistant, making it an excellent option for gardeners who are looking for plants that are resistant to animal damage.
10 – Astilbe
Astilbe is a shade-loving perennial that is highly valued for its stunning feathery plumes of flowers and attractive foliage.
This plant typically grows to around 1-3 feet tall and forms clumps of glossy green leaves that are deeply lobed and often serrated. In mid to late summer, Astilbe produces tall stems topped with feathery plumes of flowers in shades of pink, red, white, or purple.
The flowers are held above the foliage on sturdy stems, making them highly visible. Astilbe prefers partial to full shade and soil that is moist but well-draining and rich in organic matter.
11 – Forget-Me-Not
Forget-me-not, also known as Myosotis, is a charming annual or biennial plant that is known for its delicate blue, pink or white flowers. This plant typically grows to around 6-12 inches tall and forms low clumps of soft, green leaves.
From late spring to early summer, Forget-me-not produces a profusion of small, dainty flowers that bloom in clusters atop the foliage. These flowers have a five-pointed star shape and are accented by yellow centres, making them a favourite among gardeners.
Forget-me-nots thrive in partial to full shade and prefer moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. They are relatively low-maintenance plants that require only moderate watering and occasional fertilization.
While they are often grown as annuals, Forget-me-nots are also self-seeding and can easily reappear year after year.
In conclusion, adding colour to a shady border is a challenge, but not an impossible one. Many plants thrive in partial to full shade and can add a variety of colours and textures to a garden.
From the towering spires of Foxgloves to the delicate blossoms of Forget-me-nots, there are numerous options for gardeners to choose from.
These shade-loving plants not only add beauty to a garden but also provide valuable habitats for pollinators and other wildlife. With a little research and planning, a shaded border can be transformed into a vibrant and thriving garden that is both beautiful and ecologically beneficial.
So, whether you’re looking to create a woodland garden or simply add a pop of colour to a shady corner, consider incorporating some of these shade-loving plants into your landscape.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Shaded areas can be more prone to certain pests and diseases, such as slugs and snails. Be vigilant and take steps to control any issues that arise!”
“Shade loving plants generally require less fertilizer than those grown in full sun. Too much fertiliser can actually damage the plant and encourage weak, spindly growth!”
“Shaded areas may not receive as much rain as sunnier spots, so it is important to ensure that plants are watered regularly. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot!”
“Mulching helps to retain moisture in the soil and also helps to suppress weed growth. Use a 2–3-inch layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark or compost, around the base of plants!”
Frequently Asked Questions
What flowers grow in full shade UK?
Some flowers that grow well in full shade in the UK include foxgloves, hellebores, bleeding hearts, lungwort, and Solomon’s seal.
Which is the most shade loving plant?
Hostas are considered the most shade-loving plant and can grow well in full shade.
What grows well in a lot of shade?
Plants that grow well in a lot of shade include ferns, astilbe, bergenia, and tiarella.
What is the best flowering shrub for shade?
The best flowering shrubs for shade include azaleas, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas.
Which perennial plants do well in shade?
Perennial plants that do well in shade include hostas, astilbe, hellebores, and lungwort.
What flower does not need a lot of sun?
Forget-me-nots are a flower that does not need a lot of sun and can grow well in partial to full shade.
What do you put in a shaded garden area?
For a shaded garden area, consider planting a variety of shade-loving plants such as ferns, hostas, astilbe, hellebores, and hydrangeas.
What is full shade for plants?
Full shade for plants refers to areas where there is little to no direct sunlight, such as under dense tree canopies or in north-facing gardens.
What is a shade loving plant that blooms all summer?
Some shade-loving plants that bloom all summer include astilbe, bergenia, and tiarella.
Hi, I’m Trev and I’ve been growing things since I can remember. When I was younger, I grew up on a farm, so I have always been around plants and animals. After studying horticulture at university, I decided to start my own nursery which I have run now for 25 years. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their gardens.