Gardening in the Shade – Pros and Cons

Considering some of the adverse conditions in shaded areas, they always seem to be avoided by gardeners for what seems to be the lack of possibilities these locations seem to offer, however there are numerous plants that thrive tremendously under such conditions.

Prime candidates for a location such as these would be Rhododendrons & Azaleas of numerous species, color and blooming times, Solomon Seal, Hosta, low bush blueberry, various ivy as well, are perfect specimens to include in the overall scheme of things. These plants seek the comforts of adequate moisture and cooler temperatures that shaded areas offer during the prime growing season.

As spring breaks, when the trees are still void of leaf and sunshine is not yet at its highest peak, shade loving plant material enjoy the availability of spring sunlight to start their readiness for growth. Later as trees leaf out and begin to cast shade over the area, shade loving plants appreciate the protection from the warmer temperatures that come when the sun is at its highest and producing stronger heat that tends to burn tender growth of shade loving plants.

I’d like to spend some time and address some of the advantages of shade gardening, simply put, it is a gardener’s dream location when planted properly and carefully selected plant material is chosen to fill the area. Simply put, it can be a gardener’s discovery to a whole new world of gardening made available by nature’s hand.

Shade gardens offer some of the most natural environments, and prosper willingly with little effort. The proper resources are available and with a little imagination, the possibilities are endless.

Moisture is usually far more plentiful in these areas, and evaporates much slower than in sunny locations, The only exception being, is when the summer months are exceptionally dry and harsh, which can dehydrate new and tender growth that many shade plants tend to have.

A special adherence to this condition would be attention to watering regularly to avoid problems in growth or wilting. Prime examples would be Hosta, Solomon Seal, low bush blue berries, columbine, Japanese iris, and water Iris. These all thrive in the rich moist organic soils of woodland and shady areas, thus watering is essential during the hotter summer months.

These plants seem to fend for themselves quite well when cared for properly, however some known diseases associated with high moisture content can cause some problem issues, so over watering should be avoided at all costs.

Various root rot in Iris, and Powdery Mildew, both enjoy the moisture levels these shaded areas offer and for some reason, the plant material that grow so well here can also succumb to a wide spread influx of such diseases if present. Importantly, and by all means, keep a good supply of chemical or organic fungicide available to protect your plants from decline.

I have researched a few, but by no means least, a list of plant material to consider for your shade gardening enjoyment.

Listed below are a few plant specimens that adapt well to the moist, organic areas of shaded areas, especially consider most of the ferns.

Here listed are plants that prefer a high moisture content to the soil, just to mention a few, with a little research on your part and a search through the internet, as well as in gardening books that are specifically focused on shade gardens and the environmental conditions they enjoy.

Moisture loving:

Althaea offibicinalis or Marsh Mallow

Aruncus dioicus or Goats Beard

Astilbe spp.or Astilbe

Filipendula ulmara ir Queen of the meadow

Japanese iris and Water Iris

Lobelia siphilitica or Lobelia or Cardinal Flower

Trollius spp. Globe Flower

Listed here are plants that have a preference for less moisture. Examples to consider would be for plantings on higher ground, or on slopes or walls that tend to be well drained.

Archilla spp. or Yarrow

Artemisia spp.

Catanache caerulea or Cupids Dart

Papaver orientalis or Common Poppy

Santolina chamaecyparissus or Cotton Lavender

What I have researched and listed are but a few examples of shade loving plants for shaded locations In addition, various shrubs and trees enjoy locations such as these and thrive quite well under the same conditions as I’ve listed earlier in this article.

Rhododendron Yaku Princess

Azalea lemon drops

Ground cover Blue Berry


Clethra varieties

High bush Blueberry

Japanese Andromeda



Shad blow or Service Berry


Holly’s of numerous varieties

All Rhododendrons and Azaleas

(Deciduous Azaleas prefer a more sunny location)


I hope this brief synopsis provides some ideas and solutions for your shaded areas.

No need to avoid shaded locations any longer. Shaded areas provide a perfect environment for numerous native species as well as many common cultivars found in many of your local garden centers.

Seek out reputable sources for information and do a little research at the library or your local book shops.

From more information, please visit my web site at and fill in the questionnaire located on the home page, and I’ll be happy to elaborate on other species and conditions you may have in question. There is plenty you can do in the shade garden and some of the loveliest gardens are featured in shaded areas in many locations throughout the world. or email me at [email protected]

Your humble Horticulturist… Chet Stentiford

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