Colorful Foliage for Shade Gardens

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Don't Waste Another Season With A Dull Shade Garden

Shady spots are notorious among gardeners as tough-to-grow sites. It can be challenging to find the right plants that thrive in variable light conditions, compete with tree roots, and don’t mind the excess moisture we typically see in the shade. But that doesn’t mean you should leave these areas empty! With the right plants, you can spruce up the shade to be just as lively as the sun.

We’ve been busy adding tons of exciting new varieties to our online garden shop, including many beautiful foliage plants that thrive in shaded areas – spots that get fewer than four hours of sun a day. Whether they are the classic green or unique blues, purples, reds, and greys, these leaves will give at least three seasons of color in your garden, and return year after year. If they weren’t truly beautiful, useful plants, we wouldn’t be adding them to GreatGardenPlants.com.

rainbow of coral bells plats in pots on a table

Flowers are fleeting, but foliage is forever (or at least for three seasons), which is why we’re highlighting our favorite colorful foliage plants for the shade.

Coral Bells

Problem-Solving Perennial With Bold Color

It’s easy to add color to shade gardens when you have every color of the rainbow at your disposal. Coral Bells (Heuchera) boasts vibrant foliage in nearly every color, including jet black. They add long-lasting color to your landscape for months, even in poor weather! Incredibly tolerant of heat and humidity, these coral bells are tough and easy to care for. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert gardener, they would make a welcome and effortless addition to your shady garden.

Hosta

Large Leaves For Low Maintenance Color

Whether it’s a classic (like ‘June‘) or eccentric (like ‘Wiggles and Squiqqles‘), Hostas always command attention in shade gardens. Thick corrugated leaves form graceful mounds of foliage that keep their appeal from spring to fall. They are remarkably versatile, coming in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes for mixing and matching. Though we cherish them for their foliage, they also bloom midsummer with airy racemes of bell-shaped flowers. Hostas are easy to grow and maintain in containers and garden beds, even in city environments. Find a shady, moist corner of your garden and watch them thrive!

Siberian Bugloss

Foliage Brimming With Silver Detail

Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) is a perennial that wears its heart on its leaves, quite literally! Massive heart-shaped leaves are brimming with detail – a network of dark green veins cuts through a heavy silver overlay. The foliage always seems to shimmer, even in the shade. In spring, delicate flowers resembling forget-me-nots join the show in clusters about a foot above the foliage. All in all, this charming plant has a very grand look that livens up the shade garden.

Foamy Bells

A Triple Threat In Shade Gardens

With colorful foliage, delicate blooms, and easy-going nature, Foamy Bells (Heucherella) is a triple threat in the garden. As a cross between Coral Bells (Heuchera) and Foamflower (Tiarella), this perennial boasts colorful foliage and a tidy habit. Maple leaf-shaped foliage brings playful color and texture to shade gardens, coming in shades of green, copper, and red. Plus, it’s a breeze to grow, making it all that much easier to enjoy.

Japanese Forest Grass

Slender Leaves always Glow, Even In Shade

Ornamental grasses aren’t known for performing well in the shade, which is why you might see Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra) included in this list. As a native to the moist woodlands of central Japan, this grass handles shade with grace, especially in hotter climates. It will glow in your shade garden with bright, golden foliage. Slender leaves arch as they grow, forming a graceful cascading mound. With ample moisture and light, leaves will stay attractive from spring through fall.

Lungwort

Eclectic Foliage On A Compact Habit

After planting Lungwort (Pulmonaria), your shade garden will never have a dull moment again! This charming perennial boasts long, narrow leaves that are speckled with silver spots. The foliage glimmers as they catch the filtered light in understories or shaded corners. Don’t let the name dissuade you. It’s actually called Lungwort from herbalists who believed the leaves helped treat lung disorders. Its medicinal benefits may be disproven, but I still firmly believe it is one of the cures to spring fever. It blooms in early spring with cobalt blue flowers!

While these are some of our favorite foliage plants for the shade, there are so many more to choose from!

Written by: Miranda Niemiec, click here to read bio.

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