The All Things Plants Top 25 List of Shade Garden Plants

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Posted by @dave on
Let's open Shade Gardens week with a list of the most active entries in our database. Among the thousands of plants that want full or mostly shade, which ones have the most pictures, comments and other details added? Let's find out!

Uploaded by Calif_Sue
#1: Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

@SongofJoy says, "Grow bleeding hearts in partial shade to full shade, in a well-drained soil that has plenty of humus."

@bsavage added, "Bleeding heart is one of the very first plants that we bought when we moved to Colorado, because I love them and you can't grow bleeding hearts in Arizona, LOL! Every year we are amazed that an even bigger and showier plant comes from what became nothing over the winter. It is the first breath of spring and early summer, very happy in zone 5. Full sun."
Uploaded by LarryR
#2: Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

@SongofJoy says, "A rich moist woodland carpeted with spring-blooming Bluebells is a sight never to be forgotten ... especially when Bluebells are naturalized with daffodils and other spring bloomers.

Individual plants form a clump of light green oval leaves with several succulent flower stems to about 18 inches in height. Clusters of blue nodding bell-shaped flowers emerge from pink buds. After flowering, the foliage dies down and by June all is dormant underground.

Given moist rich soil and part shade, Mertensia will naturalize. A lightly shaded area by a stream is perfect. Especially good color combinations with Virginia Bluebells include Columbine, Celandine Poppy, Wild Geranium, Foamflower, Jacob's Ladder, the creeping Phloxes, and Wild Bleeding Heart. (Sunlight Gardens)"
Uploaded by LarryR
#3: Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

@SongofJoy says, "Does poorly in heavy clay soil. Needs constantly moist soil that is rich in organic matter."

@jmorth added, "A fairly common wildflower in Illinois found in moist woods settings flowering in April and May.
Flowers wrapped in a tube-like green sheath termed a spathe, folds over the flower top. Inside the spathe, flowers are crowded together along lower end of spadix (cylindrical brown or green column).
Cluster of shiny orange-red fruit evident in the fall.
Indians used the corm to treat sore eyes (Chippewas). Pawnee Indians used a powder prepared from corm and applied it to the head or temples to relieve headache. Corm also utilized in the treatment of snakebite, ringworm, gas, rheumatism, and asthma. Indians also used the corm, after boiling or baking (thereby neutralizing the unpleasant reactivity of the calcium oxalate crystals) for food."
Uploaded by duane456
#4: Variegated Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost')

@Marilyn says, "Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' is the Perennial Plant of the Year for 2012.

I grow this and love it!"

@sherrilosee added, "A prolific bloomer and always looks wonderful!"
Uploaded by eclayne
#5: Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum)

@eclayne says, "In both 2011 and 2012 this fern has exceeded 24" in diameter. With this years moderate drought, temperatures regularly in the 90's and little supplemental water (a good soaking every two weeks) this fern is holding up surprisingly well. The colors are amazing with at least three distinct palettes depending on the age of the fronds."
Uploaded by threegardeners
#6: Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

@SongofJoy says, "Blood Root is good for a spring woodland garden. In early spring, solitary flower stems emerge through tightly folded, clasping leaves nestled among the previous year's litter. Flowers are snow white or rarely tinged with pink, 1 to 2 inches wide, and resemble fragile daisies with soft petals and bright yellow tufts of stamens in their centers. They stand a few inches or so, tall, erect, and quiver in the spring breezes. But in a day's time, the petals drop, and the large, rounded, deeply lobed, blue-green leaves start to unfurl and expand. Leaves may enlarge to a foot around until they disappear in the summer. Blood Root has a thick, brittle root or rhizome that exudes a red-orange juice when broken. It is because of the root that Blood Root can tolerate dry conditions in summer, but otherwise it likes even moisture and shade. (Sunlight Gardens)"
Uploaded by Paul2032
#7: Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum')

@jmorth says, "Introduced to England by Roman invaders as an edible salad ingredient and pot herb. The young leaves are translucent and shiny green. Tender and aromatic, they are excellent additions to salads as are young stems. When older, stems cooked with cheese
Used as treatment for gout in Middle Ages and Renaissance. Saint Gerard's (1726-1755) gout was reportedly cured by the plant and is where one of its common names (Herb Gerard) originated.
Naturalized in many areas of North America, including most of Canada and the eastern United States
Can be invasive.
Mine usually are grown in dry shade. Sometimes summer heat would take its toll, leaving leaves in dire straits, but mowing once seemed to revitalize it."
Uploaded by chelle
#8: Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

@SongofJoy says, "Undoubtedly the best known, most widely grown, and maybe the most satisfying of all the species to grow, Trillium grandiflorum has a very large natural range over nearly the entire eastern United States and southern Canada down to the mountains of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. If you have ever been in the rich woods and coves of the southern Appalachians in mid-to-late spring or in fertile woodlands of Michigan or Ohio, you have doubtless seen the incredible beauty of these plants growing in great abundance. Flowers are large, up to 6 inches across, and start out white turning pink as they age. Mature plants may have many stems up to 15 inches tall, but it takes some time to make a big clump. A big clump or many small ones is very beautiful. This beauty has also led to the plants near demise as it is probably the wildflower that is dug from the wild in the greatest numbers. Grow them in the shade of deciduous trees where they enjoy sunny days in the spring but then go dormant and rest in the shade for the rest of the year. They want good, humus-rich, limey soil and like to stay evenly moist."
Uploaded by goldfinch4
#9: Coral Bells (Heuchera villosa 'Caramel')

@NJBob says, "If you're just starting out with Heuchera, this is a great choice for your first plant. Very nice color, sun or shade. Strong grower with a nice full form. Handles heat and humidity well."

@Marilyn added, "Of all the Heucheras I've grown, 'Caramel' is the most reliable. I can count on it 365 days of the year! Year after year!

Looks good in my Zone 6 hot and humid summers. Looks good in my sometimes humid spring and fall. Looks good in my cold and frost/thaw winters.

It grows well every day of the year. I have 3 one-gallon plants of 'Caramel' that get morning sun and afternoon shade.

I've been very happy with this variety!"
Uploaded by Sharon
#10: Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

@Sharon says, "The Mayapple was used by the Native Americans and very early herbalists as a medicinal plant, though not internally because the plant is toxic."

@SongofJoy added, "Mayapple is a common wildflower of good woodland soil throughout the eastern two-thirds of North America. In early spring, solitary stems poke up from the soil like thick fingers. These gradually lengthen and then unfurl exposing two 12" wide, umbrella-like, glossy green leaves, first drooping and protective, then held flat outright. Older plants will have a single large white nodding flower where the two leaf petioles fork. The flowers are hard to see beneath the leaves and are short-lived. Successful pollination results in red berries, which is the apple, in early summer. Then the plant heads back underground until next spring. But while it is up, mayapple will cover quite a bit of ground in time; it's leaves so dense and wide-spreading that it appears as a solid ground cover."
Uploaded by Carolyn22
#11: Coral Bells (Heuchera villosa 'Miracle')

@goldfinch4 says, "This plant takes a few years to get established before the leaves start to get more of the pink color in them."
Uploaded by Calif_Sue
#12: Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

@JonnaSudenius says, "This biennial will live 3 or 4 years if you cut off the stems before they set seed."
Uploaded by kqcrna
#13: Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)

@kqcrna says, "Impatiens are a popular choice for good bloom in shade conditions. Some types are now sold as sun tolerant but I didn't find them so in my yard. They did survive with daily watering but did not thrive like those in more shade.

Started early from seed, or as purchased plants they bloom heavily over an extended period. They can add a much needed splash of bright color in shady areas. Available in a multitude of colors including bicolor. They attract hummingbirds. They do well in hanging baskets on my mostly shady porch, luring the hummingbirds close where we can watch their antics."
Uploaded by Jewell
#14: Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea 'Snow Angel')

@eclayne says, "Snow Angel is my favorite Heuchera. Its abundant coral pink flowers contrast perfectly with the foliage and given its decent size, puts on quite a show for around 4 weeks. It's also one of the most vigorous Heuchera I have, increasing well and tolerating full sun, at least southern New England full sun."
Uploaded by SunnyBorders
#15: Cowslip (Primula veris)

@Sharon says, "Cowslip grows in dry meadows and along roadsides. It's native to Eurasia, but is now a common escapee from gardens in temperate North America.

It's a perennial herb with long oval hairy leaves that form a basal rosette. It has yellow flowers in spring and they are marked with orange dots. They grow in hanging clusters on top of an unbranched leafless stalk.

In the past our ancestors used Cowslip for many purposes, some are still used by herbalists today: an expectorant, a mild painkiller, a diuretic and a laxative. Others have used it as a skin cleanser. None of these uses have been verified scientifically."
Uploaded by ViolaAnn
#16: Hosta (Hosta 'Fire Island')

@virginiarose says, "The slugs love this plant."

@Lilydaydreamer added, "Always provides a great color splash in spring"
Uploaded by plantladylin
#17: Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

@SongofJoy says, "In good summer light, tall spikes of pale green flowers and orange berries appear. This plant grows best in a small pot."

@SongofJoy added, "Like some other members of its genus, S. trifasciata yields bowstring hemp, a strong plant fiber once used to make bowstrings."
Uploaded by bonitin
#18: Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

@threegardeners says, "These can be found growing in moist, rich soil.

When the new fronds are roughly 2 inches tall they can be harvested (just take 2 out of every 5 emerging heads) and boiled (after rinsing and removing the brown husk). They are also delicious sauteed in butter.

They can also be eaten raw as a snack or in salads.

Note: never eat any wild plant unless you are 100 % certain of its identity."
#19: Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)

@SongofJoy says, "Celandine Poppy is a perennial with bluish-green lobed leaves; the plants form 1&1/2-foot clumps. From March to May, clusters of bright yellow, 2-inch buttercup-like flowers appear and are followed by nodding hairy green pods. Under dry conditions, the plant may go dormant in midsummer, otherwise it may flower on and off into fall. Celandine Poppy is a good wildflower for moist, rich, lightly wooded areas. It will self-sow and multiply when happy."
Uploaded by bonitin
#20: Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)

@SongofJoy says, "Very durable; tolerant of poorer conditions and dry periods. Nice in a hanging basket."
Uploaded by Paul2032
#21: Yellow wakerobin (Trillium luteum)

@SongofJoy says, "Yellow Trillium is the most common species of Trillium in Tennessee where it can be seen by the thousands. Its natural range is from north Georgia to southern Kentucky. It prefers to grow in rich deciduous forests on basic soil. It has large yellow-green flowers that sit right on top of beautifully mottled leaves up to 14" tall. Flowers smell strongly of lemons. Mid to late spring blooming."
Uploaded by NJBob
#22: Coral Bells (Heuchera americana 'Green Spice')

@Bonehead says, "I find the blooms on this heuchera to be almost invisible, kind of a tannish white and really tiny. I just snip off the flower stalks as they emerge and end up with a fuller foliage plant."
Uploaded by gardengus
#23: Dusky Cranesbill (Geranium phaeum 'Samobor')

@gardengus says, "This is a beautiful hardy geranium, it grows in the shade and has unique flowers burgundy in color held above the leaves with a burgundy accent.
It self-sows here but is not a nuisance."
Uploaded by flaflwrgrl
#24: Wild Violet (Viola sororia var. sororia)

@jmorth says, "Difficult to eradicate; any portion of plant left in ground will emerge as a new plant.
They also perpetrate themselves overly well by means of seed production."

@SongofJoy added, "This plant can spread very rapidly and is sometimes considered an invasive weed.

Leaves are heart-shaped. The flowers occur on stalks that do not contain leaves. Flowers consist of 5 petals that range from white to blue to purple and all shades in between."
Uploaded by Newyorkrita
#25: Double-Flowering Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora')

@critterologist says, "Kerria is a beautiful, arching, open, airy-looking shrub with wonderful, long lasting spring color. New shoots may pop up a foot or more from the main shrub, making this plant easy to propagate. Dig under the shoot to loosen it and determine which way the root is going, then sever it with a sharp shovel thrust. Potting it up for a season or two lets it develop a good rootball before planting out. My "start" was just stuck directly into the ground, and it sort of hung in there for several years before finally taking off."

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
We all wind up being shade gardeners by foraygardengirl Jun 11, 2014 6:32 PM 1
shade plants list by irisarian May 5, 2014 5:50 PM 7
Huh? by steve_mass May 3, 2014 11:33 PM 2
No surprises here by Bonehead May 3, 2014 10:24 AM 1

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