Shade Plants: A Gardener’s List Of Ornamental Plants, Perennial Flowers, Trees, Shrubs, And Vines

Finding shade plants can be quite tricky, but rest assured, there are far more options out there than it seems at first glance. There is a perfect plant for every shady spot.

This article lists shade plants by type, including perennial flowers, foliage perennials, ornamental grasses, annual flowers/bedding plants, herbs, shrubs, climbers/vines, trees, and indoor houseplants. Each entry includes both the common name and botanical latin for the shade-loving plant, as well as an estimated USDA plant hardiness zone for overwintering outdoor plants.

Read on to get hundreds ideas for shade plants to add to your patio, yard, or garden.

Shade Plants - Ideas for a Shady Garden or Low-Light Landscape

Perennial Flowers for Shade

Common perennial flowers for shade gardens include Primrose, Hellebore, Trillium, Bleeding Hearts, Periwinkle, Foamflower, and Anemone.

Here is a list of flowering perennial plants that grow well in shade:

  • African Iris (Dietes bicolor): Zones 9-11
  • Astilbe (Astilbe chinensis): Zones 4-8
  • Bear’s Ear (Primula auricula): Zones 2-9
  • Bigleaf Periwinkle (Vinca major): Zones 7-9
  • Bird’s-Eye Primrose (Primula farinosa): Zones 5-8
  • Bishop’s Hat (Epimedium grandiflorum): Zones 5-8
  • Bleeding Hearts (Lamprocapnos spectabilis): Zones 3-9
  • Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis): Zones 3-8
  • Blue Lungwort (Pulmonaria angustifolia): Zones 3-8
  • Blue Violet (Viola septentrionalis): Zones 4-8
  • Blue-Eyed Mary (Omphalodes verna): Zones 6-9
  • Candelabra Primrose (Primula bulleyana): Zones 5-8
  • Chatham Island forget-me-not (Myosotidium hortensia): Zones 8-9
  • Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger): Zones 3-8
  • Common Primrose (Primula vulgaris): Zones 4-8
  • Creeping Forget-Me-Not (Omphalodes cappadocica): Zones 6-9
  • Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia): Zones 3-9
  • Dog Violet (Viola riviniana): Zones 4-8
  • Drumstick Primrose (Primula denticulata): Zones 2-8
  • Early Borage (Trachystemon orientalis): Zones 6-9
  • Early Meadow-Rue (Thalictrum dioicum): Zones 4-7
  • Fairy Iris (Dietes grandiflora): Zones 8-11
  • Fringecup (Tellima grandiflora): Zones 2-8
  • Giant Trillium (Trillium chloropetalum): Zones 6-9
  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis): Zones 3-8
  • Goldenstar (Chrysogonum virginianum): Zones 5-9
  • Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum): Zones 4-9
  • Grecian Windflower (Anemone blanda): Zones 5-8
  • Heartleaf Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia): Zones 4-9
  • Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia): Zones 3-9
  • Himalayan Meadow Primrose (Primula rosea): Zones 5-9
  • Holly-Leaved Hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius): Zones 6-8
  • Hookspur Violet (Viola adunca): Zones 4-8
  • Japanese Anemone (Anemone hupehensis): Zones 4-8
  • Japanese Primrose (Primula japonica): Zones 4-8
  • Johnny Jump-Up (Viola tricolor): Zones 3-9
  • Large-Flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora): Zones 4-9
  • Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis): Zones 4-9
  • Leopard Plant (Ligularia dentata): Zones 3-8
  • Little Sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum): Zones 5-8
  • Liverleaf (Hepatica nobilis): Zones 5-8
  • Majorcan Hellebore (Helleborus lividus): Zones 7-9
  • Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris): Zones 3-7
  • Moonlight Primrose (Primula alpicola): Zones 5-8
  • Mountain Kittentails (Synthyris missurica): Zones 3-8
  • Oxlip (Primula elatior): Zones 4-8
  • Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens): Zones 4-9
  • Periwinkle (Vinca minor): Zones 4-8
  • Piggy-Back Plant (Tolmiea menziesii): Zones 6-9
  • Przewalski’s Golden Ray (Ligularia przewalskii): Zones 4-8
  • Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana): Zones 7-9
  • Round-Headed Himalayan Primrose (Primula capitata): Zones 4-8
  • Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum): Zones 3-8
  • Spotted Dead-Nettle (Lamium maculatum): Zones 3-8
  • Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus): Zones 5-9
  • Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima): Zones 6-9
  • Sweet Violet (Viola odorata): Zones 4-9
  • Sweet White Violet (Viola blanda): Zones 2-7
  • Tibetan Cowslip (Primula florindae): Zones 3-9
  • Toad Lily (Tricyrtis macrantha): Zones 6-8
  • Treacleberry (Maianthemum racemosum): Zones 3-8
  • Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum): Zones 3-9
  • Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa): Zones 5-8
  • Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella): Zones 3-7
  • Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon): Zones 4-9
  • Yellow Barrenwort (Epimedium perralderianum): Zones 4-9
  • Yellow Wax Bells (Kirengeshoma palmata): Zones 5-8
Foliage Ornamental Plants for Shade

Foliage Perennial Plants for Shade

Popular ornamental foliage perennials for shady gardens include Hosta, Fern, Pachysandra, Heuchera, and Sweet Woodruff.

Here are perennial plants with ornamental foliage that grow well in shade:

  • Allegheny pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens): Zones 5-9
  • Chameleon Plant (Houttuynia cordata): Zones 4-10
  • Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea): Zones 3-8
  • Himalayan Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum venustum): Zones 5-9
  • Japanese Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis): Zones 5-9
  • Large Hosta (Hosta ventricosa): Zones 3-9
  • Medium Hosta (Hosta plantaginea): Zones 3-9
  • Mini Hosta (Hosta minor): Zones 3-9
  • Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris): Zones 3-7
  • Shieldleaf Rodgersia (Astilboides tabularis): Zones 5-7
  • Southern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris): Zones 8-11
  • Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum): Zones 4-8
  • Tall Hosta (Hosta fortunei): Zones 3-9
  • Umbrella Plant (Darmera peltata): Zones 5-7
  • Wavy Hosta (Hosta undulata): Zones 3-9
  • Western Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aleuticum): Zones 3-8
Ornamental grass plumes

Ornamental Grasses for Shade

Top choices for ornamental grasses grown in shade include Sedge, Mondo, Fescue, Reed Grass, and Oat Grass.

Here are some species of ornamental grasses that grow well in shade:

  • Appalachian Sedge (Carex appalachica): Zones 4-7
  • Berkeley Sedge (Carex divulsa): Zones 4-9
  • Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus): Zones 7-10
  • Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha): Zones 4-9
  • Golden Lilyturf (Liriope muscari): Zones 6-10
  • Great Wood Rush (Luzula sylvatica): Zones 4-9
  • Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra): Zones 5-9
  • Japanese Sedge (Carex morrowii): Zones 5-9
  • Japanese Sweet Flag Grass (Acorus gramineus): Zones 5-11
  • Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus): Zones 5-10
  • Monkey Grass (Liriope longipedicellata): Zones 6-9
  • Mosquito Grass (Bouteloua gracilis): Zones 3-9
  • Northern Sea Oat Grass (Chasmanthium latifolium): Zones 4-7
  • Prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha): Zones 3-9
  • Red Fescue (Festuca rubra): Zones 1-7
  • Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea): Zones 3-6
  • Tall Oat Grass (Arrhenatherum elatius): Zones 4-9
  • Tufted Hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa): Zones 4-9
White Impatiens on Patio by White Couch

Annual Flowers & Bedding Plants for Shade

Common bedding plants and annuals for shade gardening include Impatiens, Coleus, Fuchsia, and Begonia.

Here is a list of annual flowers and bedding plants that grow well in shade:

  • Bizzy Lizzy (Impatiens walleriana)
  • Bush Violet (Browallia speciosa)
  • Calico Plant (Alternanthera ficoidea)
  • Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides)
  • Hardy Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica)
  • Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
  • New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri)
  • Rex Begonia (Begonia rex-cultorum)
  • Rose Balsam (Impatiens balsamina)
  • Scarlet Begonia (Begonia coccinea)
  • Tuberous Begonias (Begonia Tuberhybrida)
  • Wax Begonia (Begonia × semperflorens)
  • Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri)
fresh flat-leaved italian parsley on patio garden

Herb Plants for Shade

Popular herbs for shade gardening include Parsley, Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Tarragon, Shiso, and Wasabi.

Here are some herb plants that grow well in shade:

  • Borage (Borago officinalis)
  • Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  • Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
  • Shiso (Perilla frutescens var. crispa)
  • Sorrel (Rumex scutatus)
  • Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata)
  • Wasabi (Eutrema japonicum)
Smooth Hydrangea Blossoms in Shade - white flowers for shady areas

Shrubs for Shade

Common shrubs for shade gardens include Camellia, Hydrangea, Rhododendron, Viburnum, Mountain Laurel, and Dogwood.

Here are some landscaping shrubs that grow well in shade:

  • American Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): Zones 3-8
  • Canadian Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis): Zones 3-8
  • Carolina Allspice (Calycanthus floridus): Zones 4-9
  • David Austin Shrub Rose “The Lark Ascending‘: Zones 5-9
  • David Austin Shrub Rose ‘Kew Gardens‘: Zones 5-10
  • David Austin Shrub Rose ‘Olivia Rose Austin‘: Zones 5-9
  • Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum): Zones 5-8
  • Glossy Abelia (Linnaea × grandiflora): Zones 6-9
  • Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica): Zones 5-8
  • Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica): Zones 6-10
  • Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica): Zones 4-9
  • Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia): Zones 5-9
  • Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia): Zones 5-9
  • Red-Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea): Zones 2-7
  • Rhododendron & Azalea (Rhododendron species): Zones 4-9
  • Sasanqua Camellia (Camellia sasanqua): Zones 7-9
  • Shrub Balsam (Impatiens niamniamensis): Zones 10-11
  • Slender deutzia (Deutzia gracilis): Zones 5-8
  • Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens): Zones 3-9
  • Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica): Zones 6-9
Climbing evergreen euonymus on north side of house

Vines & Climbing Plants for Shade

Common ornamental climbers and vines for shady areas include Clematis, Ivy, Wisteria, Euonymus, and Virginia Creeper.

Here are some specific species of climbing plants and vines that grow well in shade:

  • American Groundnut (Apios americana): Zones 3-8
  • Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata): Zones 4-8
  • Butterfly Vine (Mascagnia macroptera): Zones 8-10
  • Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis): Zones 5-9
  • Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris): Zones 4-8
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix): Zones 4-9
  • Fortune’s Spindle (Euonymus fortunei): Zones 5-9
  • Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica): Zones 4-9
  • Kadsura Vine (Kadsura japonica): Zones 7-11
  • Kentucky Wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya): Zones 4-9
  • Kiwi Vine (Actinidia arguta): Zones 3-8
  • Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata): Zones 5-11
  • Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans): Zones 5-9
  • Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia): Zones 3-9
Trees for Shady Yards

Trees for Shade

Common trees for shady areas (often native to the forest understory) include Beech, Hornbeam, Yew, Hemlock, Maple, Dogwood, and Magnolia.

Here is a list of landscaping trees that grow well in shade:

  • Allegheny Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis): Zones 4-8
  • American Beech (Fagus grandifolia): Zones 4-9
  • American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana): Zones 3-9
  • American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis): Zones 4-9
  • Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa): Zones 3-7
  • Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis): Zones 3-8
  • Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica): Zones 6-9
  • Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis): Zones 4-9
  • English Yew (Taxus baccata): Zones 6-8
  • European Beech (Fagus sylvatica): Zones 4-7
  • European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus): Zones 4-8
  • Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida): Zones 5-9
  • Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum): Zones 5-8
  • Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus): Zones 5-8
  • Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata): Zones 4-7
  • Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum): Zones 4-8
  • Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa): Zones 4-9
  • Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia): Zones 4-9
  • Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii): Zones 7-9
  • Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia): Zones 3-7
  • Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum): Zones 5-8
  • Paw Paw (Asimina triloba): Zones 2-6
  • Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia): Zones 4-8
  • Red Maple (Acer rubrum): Zones 3-9
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): Zones 3-6
  • Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia × soulangiana): Zones 5-9
  • Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum): Zones 5-9
  • Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora): Zones 7-9
  • Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina): Zones 4-8
  • Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum): Zones 3-8
  • Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum): Zones 4-8
  • Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica): Zones 4-8
  • Western Arborvitae (Thuja plicata): Zones 5-7
  • White Spruce (Picea glauca): Zones 3-7
  • Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei): Zones 7-11
Houseplants for Low Light and Shady Spots

Houseplants for Shade/Low-Light

Common houseplants for low-light areas include Boston Fern, Anthurium, Peace Lily, Begonia, Inch Plant, Peperomia, and Alocasia.

Here are some specific indoor or patio houseplants that grow well in shade:

  • African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha)
  • Amazonian Elephant’s Ear (Alocasia × amazonica)
  • Amazonian Zebra Plant (Aechmea chantinii)
  • Baby Rubberplant (Peperomia clusiifolia)
  • Beefsteak Begonia (Begonia × erythrophylla)
  • Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
  • Blushing Bromeliead (Neoregelia carolinae)
  • Boat Lily (Tradescantia spathacea)
  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
  • Cardinal Flower (Sinningia cardinalis)
  • Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
  • Coralberry (Aechmea fulgens)
  • Earth Star Plant (Cryptanthus fosterianus)
  • Emerald Ripple Peperomia (Peperomia caperata)
  • Fishbone Prayer Plant (Ctenanthe burle-marxii)
  • Flame Violet (Episcia cupreata)
  • Flaming Sword (Vriesea carinata)
  • Flamingo Flower (Anthurium andraeanum)
  • Fuchsia Begonia (Begonia fuchsioides)
  • Giant White Inch Plant (Tradescantia fluminensis)
  • Goldfish Plant (Columnea)
  • Grecian Urn (Quesnelia marmorata)
  • Iron Cross Begonia (Begonia masoniana)
  • Ivy-Leaf Peperomia (Peperomia griseoargentea)
  • Kris Plant (Alocasia sanderiana)
  • Laceflower (Episcia dianthiflora)
  • Matchstick Bromeliad (Aechmea gamosepala)
  • Metal-Leaf Begonia (Begonia metallica)
  • Mexican Air Plant (Tillandsia fuchsii)
  • Mexican Flag (Tradescantia zanonia)
  • Mosiac Vase Plant (Guzmania musaica)
  • Nerve Plant (Fittonia albivenis)
  • Never Never Plant (Ctenanthe oppenheimiana)
  • Nodding Violets (Streptocarpus caulescens)
  • Painted Evergreen (Aglaonema crispum)
  • Parrot Impatiens (Impatiens niamniamensis)
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
  • Peacock Plant (Calathea makoyana)
  • Pixie Peperomia (Peperomia orba)
  • Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
  • Purple Velvet Plant (Gynura aurantiaca)
  • Queen Anthurium (Anthurium warocqueanum)
  • Queen’s Tears Plant (Billbergia nutans)
  • Red Star Bromeliad (Cryptanthus bivittatus)
  • Scarlet Begonia (Begonia coccinea)
  • Scarlet Star Plant (Guzmania lingulata)
  • Silver Calathea (Calathea picturata)
  • Silver Vase Plant (Aechmea fasciata)
  • Sky Plant (Tillandsia ionantha)
  • Starfish Plant (Cryptanthus acaulis)
  • Tail Bromeliad (Aechmea caudata)
  • Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia)
  • Zebra Plant (Calathea zebrina)
  • Zebra Starfish Plant (Cryptanthus zonatus)

Mary Jane

Mary Jane is a home gardener who loves creating healthy, welcoming spaces (indoors and out!) - About Mary Jane (https://www.homefortheharvest.com/authors/about-mary-jane-duford/)

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