5 Perfect Plants for Full-Shade Color (Z: 3 – 7)

While it’s dark and mysterious setting is arguably alluring, many of us are likely to turn a blind eye to our full-shade spaces on the way to our sunny borders. No more!

Gardening in full-shade is an adventure, and an excuse to grow great perennials you might never have attempted before. You might be surprised at the variety of really exciting plants that thrive in low-light settings. Give into the zen of full-shade gardening, and you’ll be rewarded with a spot that feels sheltered, cozy, and calm.

Here are just a few of the remarkable plants you can grow. Need more advice? Please use the comment section below.

Variegated Jacob’s Ladder

This intriguing plant forms a tidy mound of brightly variegated green and white foliage. Lovely blue flowers make a striking combination with the foliage. Excellent for use as contrast or accent in perennial borders. Zone: 4 – 8

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Burning Hearts Bleeding Heart

Add life to those hostas (such great shade plants!) with the long-blooming stems of heart-shaped, deep-red flowers that spike-up above magnificent blue-green, fern-like foliage. Zone: 4 – 9

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Hot Lips Turtlehead

Tough, hardy, happy North American native that’s a tumble of cheerful spikes of pink snapdragon-like flowers over densely spreading 2-ft tall plants.Thrives in shady, moist conditions. Zone: 3 – 8

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Wine Common Periwinkle

Don’t let the word “common” throw you. This is a lush, trailing ground cover with unique deep-purple-to-magenta colored blossoms above lustrous green foliage that thrives in the deepest of shade. Zone: 4 – 9

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Variegated Siberian Bugloss

A delicate beauty that’s also a problem solver. Variegated leaves provide a dramatic background for azure-blue forget-me-not flowers, while acting as a weed-smothering mat. Zone: 3 – 9

Tips for Gardening in Full Shade

  •  Remember to water. Whether it’s competition from other plants or a canopy of trees that create an umbrella-like effect, it’s tough for plants to get the moisture they need. Make sure your irrigation system is hooked up.
  •  Maintain fertility. Feeder roots of nearby trees and shrubs can compete with smaller plants, using up nutrients. Apply an organic, balanced fertilizer according to package instructions in spring or fall.
  • Always mulch. Unless you have feet of nature’s own mulch from fallen leaves, you’ll need to add 3 to 6 inches of an organic mulch twice a year to add nutrients, conserve moisture, and prevent weeds.
  • Go with nature. Rather than try to impose a design, allow plants to do their thing, rambling, scrambling, reaching, and twining to find their best light.

What do we mean by “full shade?”

There are basically four classes of shade: light, partial, full, and deep.

We define full shade where plants there may take in less than one hour of direct sun a day.  Plants may glean filtered or dappled light throughout all or part of the day as the sun tracks across the sky.

Full shade does not refer to dark places – all plants need at least some light.

While this does limit plant choices, on the flip side, plants there grow faster and taller as they reach for the light.

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