Success in the Shade II – Time to Plant!

By Christina Perez

This article was adapted from a presentation entitled ‘Success in the Shade’. Part I of this article can be found here: Success in the Shade

Plant Selection

Shade plants have wonderful variations of texture and color. The following charts are by no means extensive but do include a few options for the shade garden that have been successful in my own garden. Whatever you chose, be sure to keep track of your purchases and where each plant is planted in your new shade garden. Enjoy your new relaxing and calm garden retreat!

Scientific Name Common Name Notes
Begonia semperflorens

Begonia tuberhybrida

Wax Begonia

Tuberous Begonia

Likes moist, well-drained soil
Caladium Caladium Great colors and textures; likes warm, moist soil
Heliotropium arborescens Heliotrope Can grow in sun to part shade; the plant is known to be poisonous, so do not ingest
Lobelia cardinalis

Lobelia siphilitica

Lobelia These two species are native to the Piedmont, and the fall blooms attracts hummingbirds
Nicotiniana ‘Perfume Mix’ Flowering Tobacco This cultivar has a sweet fragrance and new hybrid varieties have great compact blooms
Coleus scutellariodes Coleus Likes well drained soil and ample water. Coleus gives wonderful color and texture options


Scientific Name Common Name Notes
Astilbe arendsii Astilbe Beautiful and feathery early spring blooms
Helleborus hybridus Hellebore Very reliable shade plant
Hosta ‘White Feather’ Hosta There are many excellent varieties of hosta, and this specific cultivar has lovely bright white leaves
Thelypteris kunthii Southern Shield Fern This hardy native makes a wonderful addition to the shade garden
Pulmonaria officinalis Lungwort Fantastic spotted leaves with colorful, compact spring blooms. Good spreader in rich soil
Aquilegia canadensis Eastern Columbine This native is a great spreader and gives a colorful bloom in late spring
Dicentra exima Bleeding Heart This Piedmont native gives a great pink bloom in the spring
Digitalis purpurea Foxglove These come in a variety of colors and give a lovely effect when planted in groups
Stylophorum diphyllum Celendine Poppy Excellent addition to the shade garden. A good spreader with bright yellow blooms
Heuchera americana American Alumroot Native plant with a delicate spring bloom; lovely leaf gives good variety to the shade garden


Scientific Name Common Name Notes
Asarum canadense Wild Ginger While not the same as culinary ginger, it does have a tasty root and is very low maintenance
Galium odoratum Sweet Woodruff Spring bloom that is fragrant and edible
Phyllum- Bryophyta Moss Moss is much preferable to grass in shady environments, and many different moss varieties thrive in North Carolina 6


  1. Evans, E. Flowers and Woody Ornamentals. In: Evans, E., ed. The North Carolina Master Gardener Training Manual. 5th ed. Raleigh, NC: NC Cooperative Extension; 1998.
  1. Miller, H. Gardening in the Shade. Horticulture Learn and Grow. University of Illinois Extension.
  1. Givnish, T. J. 1988. Adaptation to Sun and Shade: A Whole-plant Perspective. Aust. J. Plant Physiol. 15, 63-92.
  1. Hutchings, M.J., Harper John, E.A., Stewart, A.J.A. 2001. The Ecological Consequences of Environmental Heterogeneity: The 40th Symposium of the British Ecological Society. Held at the University of Sussex. Symposia of the British Ecological Society.
  2. Robinson,, S.A., Lovelock, C.E., and Osmond, C.B. 1993. Wax as a Mechanism for Protection against Photoinhibition — A Study of Cotyledon orbiculata. Botanica Acta. 106(4): 307-312.
  3. Martin, A. The Magical World of Moss Gardening. Portland, OR: Timber Press; 2015.