Grow Guide: Shade Loving
Shade is often a nightmare for gardeners and often results in shady spots becoming no-grow areas for many plants. Shady spots can come in all shapes and sizes and are often the result of trees, north-facing walls or thick plant cover. Shade can be more of a problem in urban gardens where there are more obstacles blocking the natural light. However, there are a surprising amount of plants that can tolerate different levels of shade.
These shady characters can range from shrubs to annuals to perennials which means there is lots of variety to choose from. Check out our list of plants for shade and add some life to any nook in your garden. Your local garden centre will have a range of shade-tolerant plants to choose from.
Types of Shade
All plants will have a different degree of shade tolerance, some will have no tolerance but others love the shade. Woodlands are an excellent example of areas that have strong shade but are still full of life. Knowing the different types of shade will help you choose the right plant for the right place:
An area that only receives 2 or 3 hours of sunlight in either the early morning or late evening.
Areas that only receive light that is reflected or diffused. These areas do not receive any direct sunlight throughout the day.
These are places that do not receive any light and are in constant shade. For this reason, the soil is often cool and dry or moist (not in-between). Deep shade is typically found at the base of trees and walls.
Tips for Shade
If you have a large tree in your garden which is casting too much shade, remove some of the lower branches to let some light through.
When choosing plants for shady areas, use pale bright colours like whites and pale pinks to ensure they stand out in the dark.
Our Top Ten Shade Tolerant Plants
A very popular shrub with big pompom flower heads available in shades of pink, white or blue. These hardy plants can tolerate most types of shade except deep shade and perform well in any type of soil.
A luscious iconic plant that loves all conditions. Ferns are known for loving all types of shade, try an Osmunda Regalis or Japanese Painted varieties for the wet Irish climate.
A very popular evergreen perennial, they are renowned for there rich colours that can rival even that of a flower. They enjoy the shade with the exception of deep shade. Try the Cherry Cola for a deep red or Amber Waves for a butterscotch colour.
One of the best foliage plants and thrive is shade prone areas. These resilient and easy-to-grow plants are available in a wide range of leaf colours, sizes and shapes. Try a Francis William variety for stunning broad foliage.
One of the most popular winter and spring flowering shrubs, providing a vivid splash of colour. Remember Camellias like acidic soil (not common in Ireland) so use an Ericaceous compost. They also enjoy partial shade.
Also known as primroses, are a lovely little bedding plant that blooms early spring. They are available in a large assortment of gorgeous colours and are known to grow in harsh shade.
Very easy to grow and maintain and are not susceptible to pests like rabbits and slugs. They come in varieties of pinks, reds and whites and are able to flower in shady areas.
Also known as Japanese Maples, are a small, slow-growing ornate tree. They are available in a broad range of colours and leaf textures, going from deep reds and lush greens with feathery or defined leaves. They are delicate and love sheltered shaded areas away from the wind.
These elegant wildflowers are ideal to achieve a country garden look. The wildflower is often found in woodlands and enjoys being planted in semi-shaded areas. Their tubular flowers are a favourite for bees and butterflies. Remember to keep an eye on your children and pets if foxgloves are around, as they can contain some elements that are poisonous if ingested.
A bushy evergreen shrub that has glossy deep green leaves with tiny extremely scented creamy white flowers during winter. These are the perfect plant for winter when nothing else is blooming and can tolerate strong shade.