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The Best Plants for Shade

 Its all about the gardens this week! 

First, something near to my heart - the shade garden! 

Around greater Philly, we have our fair share of heavily wooded and tree-filled yards. We aren't in the state of Penn's Woods for nothing! 

My own yard is covered with great, gorgeous oaks that leave over half of my yard space in dappled or full shade. Its very beautiful, but does provide its own issues with growing plants and flowers. 

If you go into any Home Depot or Lowes and look for plants, you'll see most of whats for sale needs full sun. So what can you plant in those shaded corners or dappled lawns? 

Here are some of my own favorites that have done really well in my own garden! 


My favorite plant ever. The are big, incredibly hardy, grown like a foot a day in the Spring, are full of color and shape and LOVE the shade. The only downside is they leave nothing behind in the winter so the 3 ft they take up in the Summer is empty in the winter (so its smart to pair it with an evergreen) 


Speaking of evergreen, I am so fond of this bush. Its beautiful, shapely and classic all year long. Right now, they are at their peak with huge blooms. They also establish pretty easily, are readily available and come in multiple colors (so if pink isn't your thing, the classic white is lovely) 

And its cousin, the Rhododendron is a similar, shade-loving plant! 

Cherry and Mountain Laurels 

You'll see them everywhere, popular for dividing properties and blocking the road from view. Laurels get large but still have pretty, evergreen leaves and a great show of flowers. 


This is my next favorite thing in my own garden. When they come up, they just look incredibly striking. Tall, tufts of fluffy flowers poke up from the garden beds in a variety of colors. They provide some drama and structure to a shade garden 


I'm sure you've heard of these! They do really well in part shade. Just give them a little sun to look at and they'll provide blooms over a period of time. Just remember to fertilize them for the best blooms! 


I love ferns. They have structure but also drop so they can look wistful. They can fill in an area well too. Typical green varieties are common but I have a few Brilliance Autumn ones that provide just the right color in a wooded garden 

Helleborus (or Lenten Rose) 

Called the Lenten Rose because its the first to pop up in the Spring. Its such a happy sign and they come with some drama. The rest of the garden is bare but these delicate little cupped flowers in a variety of colors just pop up, all alone, at the beginning of Spring. The leaves then fill in nicely for the rest of the season. A good pick me up! 

Lamium (Dead Nettle) 

GREAT ground cover with the prettiest of leaves and lovely pink flowers. Very delicate but they spread everywhere quickly - so great to fill in some tricky areas 

Lily Turf (Liriope) 

Evergreen mounds of grass with amazing purple flowers. If you have no idea what to put in a shaded spot, you can't go wrong with this (except if you decide you hate them, then good luck getting rid of them). They are such tough plants but provide a show all year long and so they are right up there with hostas for me for a good starter plant in the shade 

Heuchera (Coral Bells) 

I've had a little more trouble getting these established but most people with dappled gardens do well with these plants, that have the most amazing, colorful leaves. Many of them also have great stalks with flowers for a constant show 

Brunnera (Jack Frost) 

I love these huge plants, like a hosta, but with lovely, blue-ish leaves and great blue flowers. A very natural and pretty plant! 


One of my favorites in my yard is my ivy-covered fence because it is a LOT of green, year-round. That being said, it should be used with caution. It spread quickly and while I LOVE it on my backyard fence, we have to watch where it spreads, careful to cut if off trees it could choke and to keep it away from the house. But if you have a spot on a fence or trellis in the shade, like I do, its a lovely site Summer to Winter 

And if you are just starting, I LOVE this shade garden pack. Its a good set of plants that work well together and covers a lot of area, once established. 


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