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What are the Different Types of Shade Plants?

By T. L. Childree
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are many different types of shade plants from which to choose. Most shade plants thrive in areas that receive little or no direct sunlight and typically have large leaves to help gather enough sunlight in darker areas. Some of the different types of shade plants include hellebore, bugbane, coral bells, plants from the Corydalis genus, and Japanese Painted Ferns. Other types of shade plants include lungwort, toad lily, bugleweed, masterwort, and foamflower.

Hellebores are an early-blooming perennial with thick green leaves. This plant has cup-shaped blossoms of red, pink, white, and cream that typically appear in late winter and early spring. This shade plant usually reaches a height of about 2 feet (60 cm) when fully grown. A bugbane is a late-blooming plant that produces white spiked blossoms and grows to about 4 feet (1.2 m) in height. Some bugbane varieties feature purple foliage, while others can produce blossoms that give off an unpleasant odor.

There are many varieties of coral bells that produce colorful foliage of bronze, silver, or purple. Other varieties feature brilliant red, white, or pink blossoms. Coral bells typically grow to a height of 1 to 3 feet (30-91 cm), depending on the variety. Plants in the Corydalis genus have fern-like foliage and usually bear blossoms from spring to fall. These shade plants are rarely invasive and grow easily between paving stones.

The Japanese Painted Fern features colored fronds in a mixture of red, purple, green, gray and silver. This plant loses its foliage in the winter and typically grows to a height of about 1 foot (30 cm) at maturity. Lungwort plants provide green foliage highlighted with silver streaks. This plant typically produces white, blue, or pink blossoms along with new leaves in early spring. The most common variety features pink buds that blossom into blue flowers.

A toad lily begins to bloom in late summer and continues into the fall. This plant typically produces purple or white blossoms although some varieties also bear yellow flowers. Toad lilies usually grow to a height of 3 feet (about 91 cm) and have furry foliage. Bugleweed plants have thick, evergreen foliage that is often streaked with burgundy or pink. This shade plant grows to a height of approximately 6 inches (15 cm) and produces spiked blue blossoms during the early summer.

The red, pink, and white blossoms of a masterwort plant appear during the summer and are often used for cut flower arrangements. This plant generally reaches a height of 1 to 3 feet (about 30-91 cm) when fully grown. The foamflower plant is a type of ground-cover that usually grows in colonies. Foamflower features dark green foliage combined with pink or white blossoms. This plant typically grows to about 1 foot (30 cm) in height and blooms in the spring.

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Discussion Comments

By Wisedly33 — On Apr 14, 2014

I need to plant some hellebore. My yard is so shady, grass hardly grows! I also had some success with green leaf begonias and impatiens last year. They looked nice.

Caladium are also good for shade plants. They're colorful and you can get them in shades of red, white and pink, which will really liven up a shady area.

I'm always on the lookout for good shade plants, since I have so much of it!

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