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Most gardens have at least one dark or shady spot, and many of us have very shady gardens. Trees, buildings and fences can be the key to blocking the sun, and we have plenty of tips discussing how to deal with this. Also, having a shady garden doesn’t mean you can’t have your own plant-packed garden, you just need to be aware of the best varieties to grow!

While a shady garden can be considered a challenge to overcome, it is actually an opportunity to grow some of the most beautiful varieties of flowers and veg. Many shade-loving plants include varieties of shrubs, bulbs, climbing plants, annuals and biennials, perennials and even vegetables which can still thrive in partial shade.

To hit the ground running, let’s run through some very simple tips that you can begin with to understand what’s restricting sunlight to your garden and how to fight against the shade!

General tips for shady gardens

Shade loving plants near a log
  • Is there a tree in the way? Try removing the bottom layers of branches to allow more light through and raise the shading shield!
  • Increase the sense of light by painting your walls and fences a light and bright shade. Opt for pale coloured paving stones too!
  • Pick the right plants that not only survive in shaded conditions but are also bright in colour. Like white and pink plants which will definitely stand out!
  • Establish your type of shade as there are different kinds. ‘Light shade’ is open to the sky but no direct sunlight. ‘Semi-shade’ receives 3 – 6 hours of direct sun throughout mid-summer. ‘Dappled shade’ receives light through trees. ‘Moderate shade’ receives 2 – 3 hours of direct sunlight throughout mid-summer. ‘Deep shade’ receives less than 2 hours of direct sunlight and is often in constant shade. Finding out what you have will help you determine the plants for you!
  • Improve your soil and make sure it’s on top of its game to support your plants where the sunlight cannot! Read our soil type guide full of tips.
  • Do you have dry or damp shade? Working out what you have will help when it comes to planting your flower plants and shrubs. ‘Dry shade’ is where water is drawn from the soil and where little rain falls. ‘Damp shade’ is where there is too much moisture and is a super damp patch.

Shrubs for Shady Gardens

When it comes to shrubs, it kind of depends on whether you have dry or damp areas of shade. So once you establish whether the soil in your shady area is too dry or too damp, you can pick from this selection of shrubs!

Pyracantha 'Firestorm'

Shrubs for Dry Shade

Bulbs for Shady Gardens

There are plenty of shade-loving flowers that’ll brighten up the darkest corners of your garden. You don’t need full sun to guarantee beautiful floral displays in your garden.

English bluebells in woodland

Bulbs for Dry Shade

Bulbs for Damp Shade

  • Cardiocrinum (Giant Lily)
  • Eranthis (Winter Aconite)

Climbing Plants for Shady Gardens

Clematis Armandii from Dobies

For Dry Shade

  • Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Virginia Creeper) 
  • Troki Red Wall
  • Euonymus fortunei (Winter Creeper)
  • Honeysuckle Varieties

For Damp Shade

Perennials for Shady Gardens

Other Flower Plants for Shady Gardens

White shade-loving plants closeup

Fruit & vegetables for Shady Gardens

Various veg can be grown outside in partial shade. The deep shade won’t yield the best results, but there are some varieties that yield better with partial shade rather than full sunlight.

Strawberry berry in shade on leaf

Fruit for Shade

Greens & herbs for shade

Top growing advice for shady gardens

  • Improve the soil quality in shady patches so it can support your plants when there’s less sunlight.
  • Before you buy plants or seeds, make sure you know exactly what type of shade you have in your garden – dappled, partial, dry, or damp.
  • Veg like parsnips, lettuce, broccoli & peas can be grown in semi-shady conditions (as long as it gets a little bit of sunshine).
  • Flowers that thrive in woodlands do well in shady gardens. Think bluebells, snowdrops & cyclamen.
  • Shade-loving plants don’t have to be darker in colour. Planting white & pink plants will help brighten shady corners.

We hope our article has been helpful, and if you have a shady garden, you’ve seen that you can have a garden simply overflowing with fruit, veg & flowers! And whatever you’re doing on the plot, or growing indoors, make sure to share your gardening activities with us via social media!

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9 thought on “Top tips for shady gardens including shade-loving plants”
    1. Hi Mavis, thank you for your kind comment. We are so pleased you are enjoying our website.
      Best regards,
      The Dobies Team

    1. Hi David, thank you for your kind comment. We are so pleased you have enjoyed our top tips for shady gardens.
      Best regards,
      The Dobies Team

  1. Thank you for this it is very helpful information. I useytou a lot and have a warm regard for your products and service!!

    1. Hi Anne, thank you for your kind comment. We are so pleased our blog has been useful to you and thank you for being a customer with us.
      Best regards,
      The Dobies Team

  2. Just in tie info, Thanks very much, I’m helping an old friend transform her garden and she has a deeply shaded area that even grass struggles to grow, I’ll be getting in there and thinning the trees to let more light in and your lists are perfect for perusal and ordering plants / seeds.

    1. Hi Derek, we are so pleased our blog has been helpful to you. Good luck with gardening jobs.
      Best regards,
      The Dobies Team

  3. So useful especially about the shade tolerant vegs.
    This was sent to me by my sister, but I would like to have any future copies sent to me, please

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