Shade Gardening: Create Your Oasis

It’s one of the most frequently asked questions… “What can I plant in the SHADE?” While many of the most bountiful blooms prefer bright sun, there is a world of plants that thrive in lower light, and that offer beautiful colour, texture, and contrast. Explore some of favourite plants for shade gardening, and transform your unused space into a shady oasis!

Hostas For Every Space

Is there any perennial garden plant more popular or prevalent than Hosta? With more than 70 species and over 3000 varieties, there are certainly many to choose from. With such an incredible range in size, shape, colour, texture, pattern, and form, it’s easy to create an interesting and colourful garden with just Hosta alone. In a shady garden space, try using 3 to 5 varieties of Hosta in contrasting and complementary colours. Giant, waxy blue leaves in varieties like “Big Daddy” or “Elegans” pop when mixed with lime greens and yellows of “Sum and Substance” or combined in “June”. There is no wrong way to design with Hosta, so they’re the perfect plant to begin with in shade gardening.

Fun With Foliage

One of the main challenges surrounding shade gardening is that most flowering plants prefer to be in sun. When we think of adding colour to the garden, we often picture large swaths of bright flowers… but that’s not the only solution! There are many perennials that offer an array of colours with foliage, rather than flower. Better yet, when we add colour with leaves, that colour persists all season long! Heuchera, or Coral Bells, is a perfect example of this. With new, brighter varieties becoming available all the time, these plants deserve a place in the garden! Ranging from intense chartreuse, to vibrant coral or peach, and dark purple to glossy black, their rainbow is astounding, even in shade.

perennial heuchera black pearl

Foliage colour doesn’t stop with Heuchera. Consider shade tolerant grasses, like bright waterfalls of Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass) or graceful, blue Northern Sea Oats. Other popular perennials like giant-leaved Ligularia, blooming Astilbe, or the fringed lime flowers of Lady’s Mantle also add variety and interest to shaded areas.

Shady Shrubs

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than a walk in the woods to get some shady space inspiration. Our native Ontario landscape offers a beautiful breadth of woodland plants that thrive in the dappled light of the forest. Ensuring that your garden contains some woody shrubs and hardy evergreens is a way to keep it visually interesting and appealing throughout the winter months. For flowers, try classic Annabelle Hydrangea, which adapts to an astounding range of light conditions and offers big, fluffy blooms. Several varieties of Viburnum, like Highbush Cranberry also thrive in partial shade, as do Dogwood, Azaleas, and Summersweet.

Evergreens, while often not particularly exciting, create habitat for birds, and are important focal points in the winter landscape. Boxwood, Yew, Black Cedar, and even some types of Juniper will grow in shade.




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