Shade Gardening

by Suzanne DeJohn

More and more gardeners have shady areas in their yards that they want to landscape, and our collection of shade plants just keeps growing. Don't let anyone tell you there's no way to have a grand garden in the shade — including fantastic foliage and loads of color, season after season.

On a hot summer day, a shade garden is a welcoming oasis. Set a bench under a tree, surround yourself with beautiful, shade-loving foliage and flower plants, and you've created your own garden get-away.

If you've struggled to get lawn grass to grow in a shady spot, consider creating a shade garden there instead. It will not only look better, but it also won't require the weekly mowing and frequent watering and fertilizing that lawns demand.

The key to a successful shade garden is to match the plant to the site. Some plants, like Hostas, are quite adaptable to any shady spot. Many of our Woodland Wildflowers, on the other hand, have more exacting requirements. Some need acidic soil, soil that is rich in organic matter or soil that stays consistently moist. So read plant descriptions carefully.

Types of Shade
Some confusion surrounds the terms full sun, part shade (or part sun) and full shade, so here's a rundown:

Full sun. An area that receives four hours or more of direct, mid-day sunlight is considered full sun.

Part shade. Areas under trees with high or thin canopies are usually in part shade. They may receive several hours of direct sun in the morning or in late afternoon, and/or dappled sunlight throughout the day.

Full shade. The area alongside a north-facing wall or under trees with dense foliage is considered full shade. The area may get some sunshine in the early morning or evening, but is shaded during mid-day.

In northern regions, where the sun isn't as intense as it is further south, plants recommended for part shade may grow well in full sun. Conversely, plants recommended for full sun may appreciate some light afternoon shade in regions with hot, sunny summer weather.

  1. Japanese Sedge Grass Everillo filling out a container planting

    EverColor 'Everillo' Sedge Grass shines with golden foliage that lights up the shade garden. Part of the popular EverColor Series, foliage emerges lime green and shifts to a sunny ye...

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    EverColor® Everillo Sedge Grass Everillo Japanese Sedge Grass PP#21002 Carex oshimensis EverColor® Everillo PP#21002
    As low as $24.98 Sale $14.99
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    EverColor 'Everillo' Sedge Grass shines with golden foliage that lights up the shade garden. Part of the popular EverColor Series, foliage emerges lime green and shifts to a sunny yellow, adding vibrant texture and year-long color to the landscape. A versatile, low-maintenance groundcover or edging plant for wet or dry shade. Perfect for edging woodland pathways and shady planting beds. Add 'Everillo' to containers and window boxes for evergreen color and lush texture. Deer resistant. (Carex oshimensis)
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  2. Iris cristata, Dwarf Crested Iris

    A native star of the spring season, Dwarf Crested Iris delights gardeners with vigorous lilac blooms on low growing, deer-resistant foliage. It’s perfect for both rock or woodland ...

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    Dwarf Crested Iris Dwarf Crested Iris Iris cristata
    $18.98 Sale $14.24
    Per Bag of 3
    A native star of the spring season, Dwarf Crested Iris delights gardeners with vigorous lilac blooms on low growing, deer-resistant foliage. It’s perfect for both rock or woodland gardens, as it can be grown in part shade to full shade and spreads over time. In classic beds or borders, this sweet little iris should be placed front and center for prime viewing. (Iris cristata)
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  3. Pink Ajuga Pink Lightning, Ajuga reptans, Bugleweed

    'Pink Lightning' Ajuga is a fast-growing groundcover with a unique look. Soft, sage green leaves are trimmed with cream edges, creating a beautiful backdrop for the bubblegum-pink fl...

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    Pink Lightning Ajuga Pink Lightning Bugleweed PP#22255 Ajuga reptans Pink Lightning PP#22255
    As low as $10.98 Sale $5.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot

    'Pink Lightning' Ajuga is a fast-growing groundcover with a unique look. Soft, sage green leaves are trimmed with cream edges, creating a beautiful backdrop for the bubblegum-pink flower spikes that appear in late spring. Attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, 'Pink Lightning' will spread rapidly when well-watered. (Ajuga) PP#22255

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