5 Great Plants for Shade

Have a shady garden site? A lot of us who live in apartments have shady apartment gardens because of trees, buildings or awnings that block light. While plants for sun won’t grow in our gardens, there are many plants for shade that we can grow. You just have to know how to successfully plant a container garden in the shade, and you too can have a beautiful lush garden. Don’t envy sunny garden plots: Try these 5 great plants for shade.


Have a sunny garden site? Check out 5 great container plants for sun>>


Primrose flower for shade

1. Primrose flower. Blooming in early spring, this great flower for shade is one of the first flowers to bloom after winter. And, luckily, the primrose treats container gardeners with a flowering encore and blooms again in the fall. There are many varieties of primrose flowers that can grow in shady apartment gardens, and flower colors include blues, pinks, reds, yellow, orange and purple. Many primrose plants have a bright yellow color in the flower’s center. These are easy container garden flowers that will delight you with beautiful blooms twice a year.

PRIMROSE FLOWER LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Primroses do best in partly shady apartment gardens sun with morning sun. Avoid intense midday sun.


English Ivy for shade

2. Branching ivy. You’ve undoubtedly seen the fast-growing invasive branching ivy, also known as English ivy or glacier ivy, as ground cover in landscaping, and it is easy to grow in any apartment garden or indoors as a house plant. It is almost impossible to kill this versatile plant for shade. It can be trained to grow up a trellis or in a hanging plant container. If grown as a house plant indoors branching ivy cleans the air of formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide.        

BRANCHING IVY LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: The branching ivy plant can thrive in almost any level of light, from full shade to full sun.


Coleus plant for shade

3. Coleus. Coleus is a colorful potted plant for shade. Coleus leaves come in shades of red, green, white and yellow. It can be grown underneath other taller potted plants, such as a small tree in a container. Although most people grow the coleus plant as an annual, you can bring it into an indoor garden in the winter and keep it pruned to keep it full and bushy.

COLEUS LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Shade to light. If the color is drained from the coleus plant's leaves, it is getting too much sun. If the coleus plant begins to lose its leaves, it probably is not getting enough light.


Hosta plant for shade

4. Hosta plant. Hosta plants are grown for their luxurious and compact foliage, and for their delicate but scentless flowers that form on top of tall stems. The hosta’s lilylike flowers bloom in summer and can be white or purple. Some hosta varieties can have up to 75 blooms on each flower scape. Hosta’s leaves grow in a large round mound and are yellow or green, often variegated with gold or white. These wonderful plants for shade do best in cooler areas and need a period of cold weather so they can go into dormancy (during which the hostas will lose their leaves). For apartment gardeners in warmer areas, such as Florida and the Southwest, be careful to find a hosta variety that tolerates heat in the garden. Hostas also vary widely in size. Research the mature size of the hosta you would like to grow before purchasing. Some varieties will grow too large for your container garden.

HOSTA PLANT LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Hosta plants do best in shade, but they will not thrive in deep shade. An apartment garden with morning sun and afternoon shade is best.


Azalea flowers for shade

5. Azalea flowers. Azaleas are flowering bushes that have impressive, showy flower blooms in the summer. Their large, colorful flowers last for weeks, and they look beautiful when cut and displayed in a vase inside. Popular in Southern-style gardens, the azalea plant is often grown as a large bush. In apartment gardens, however, these bushes will need to be pruned – they can actually be pruned to resemble small flowering trees. There are many species, varieties and hybrids of azalea bushes, and you are likely to find any color and flower shape to suit your apartment garden’s conditions.

AZALEA FLOWER LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Part shade. If planted in deep shade without partial sun or dappled shade, azalea flowers won’t bloom, and they will grow tall and thin.

Although you can’t grow all the beautiful sun-loving plants in your apartment garden, try one of the many plants for shade. To learn more about planting in a shady apartment garden, read “Tips for 4 Types of Shady Balcony Sites.”

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