Best Plants for a Shade Garden

Gardening, Home & Family
on January 1, 2014
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Not all gardens receive the direct rays of the sun. Your shade garden can burst with color and beauty when you add a variety of plants and flowers that thrive in low light. Ample choices are available, whether you live in the coolest regions of the country or the hottest.

Hardiness zone map. Before selecting plants for your shade garden, check the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. This climate zone map helps gardeners select plants, flowers, shrubs and trees that will thrive in their specific area.

Hostas. An easy-to-grow perennial, shade-loving hostas are available in several varieties. According to the American Hosta Society, the plants are native to Japan, Korea and China, but were first imported and grown in Europe in the late 1700s. By the mid-1800s, they had made their way to the United States. Consider hostas with leaves of blue, green or ones that are variegated. All hostas will bloom in summer with tall, showy flower spikes. Most hostas can grow in zones 3 to 9.

Lenten rose. It was the 2005 Perennial Plant of the Year, according to the Perennial Plant Association. The Lenten rose can be grown in zones 4 to 9. In warmer regions, they will thrive in the shade of trees, while in cooler areas, they will like an area with a bit more light. The Perennial Plant Association states the Lenten rose is an “evergreen, late-winter or early-spring flowering member of the buttercup family.” The Lenten rose has green foliage and blooms of red, pink, white or yellow.

Lungwort. Lungwort or Pulmonaria is a pretty perennial with green leaves and flowers in violet-blue, pink or white. It is an early blooming plant, with flowers emerging in early spring. Lungwort will grow in zones 2 to 8, liking partial shade and shady areas. Use it as a groundcover or in a container, as it is a versatile plant.

Coleus. Fiery additions to any shade garden, the leaves of the coleus plant are typically vibrant reds. This annual can be grown in zones 1 to 11 and is available in several varieties. Coleus plants look beautiful in borders and containers.

Ajuga. Ajuga, also known as Bugleweed, is a member of the mint family. It is a small to medium-sized, herbaceous semi-evergreen groundcover, states the Horticulture and Crop Science Department at Ohio State University. During most of the year, it is a tall groundcover plant. In the spring, however, it grows and flowers. Its flowers may be purple, white or pink. An ajuga's zone hardiness depends on its variety, but most will thrive in zones 4 to 8, according to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at North Carolina University.

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