Top 10 shadow plants

Plants for shade

The shady areas of our garden can, at first glance, arouse fear: many think that they are destined to remain bare or that only abandoned plants without charm will grow there. The reality could not be more different: the essences capable of enhancing those areas are really many thanks to the intense green of the leaves, to the alternation of their shapes and textures, but also to the bright colors of the blooms.
The best results are obtained with a luminous shadow, created by the deciduous foliage or a wall, in an open space, but even in more sheltered positions it is possible to create compositions of great impact.
To obtain the best results it is first of all important to assess the characteristics of the soil and climate before implantation: composition and pH of the substrate, maximum and minimum temperatures reached and water availability.
Here are our suggestions!

Hakonechloa Macra

Ornamental grass of great impact, rustic and vigorous, native to Japan. It produces smooth and curved leaves, especially noticeable in variegated cultivars in white or yellow; some, at the end of the season, take on reddish shades. Beautiful in the first row of the borders in purity or alternating with other leaf essences.


We report in particular the Dryopteris and the Adiantum. The first are perfect in damp or dry shade, but well drained and with acid pH soil, the others (the most famous is the Capelvenere) grow in the presence of strong atmospheric humidity and tolerate the presence of calcium. In the right conditions they are vigorous (sometimes invasive); the green fronds give great lightness and liveliness to the shady garden.

Ajuga Reptans

Superb upholstery, vigorous and extremely resistant. In a short time it will cover large areas, obstructing invasive growth and illuminating them with the multiple colors of their leaves. The cultivars on the market offer leaves in infinite shades: bronze, silvery, marc, pink, cream. In addition, at the end of spring, there is the wonderful flowering in shades of blue, purple, or white.


A perennial rhizomatous in many ways. First of all, its elegant and large leaves, divided into 3-5 toothed lobes, create movement in mixed and herbaceous borders. At the beginning of the summer there are showy flower heads, similar to feathers, from white to pink to deep red (the stems are often showy too), pleasing even in buckets. It wants a cool, moist environment.

Tricyrtis Hirta

A great little luxury for our garden: a rustic perennial that, in full autumn, produces flowers similar to those of orchids! It grows vigorously if inserted in the wooded areas or in the second or third row of shaded borders, especially with peaty soil. The particular appearance of the flowers, often spotted in pink, will certainly be an important point of attraction.


Nothing is better than a flowered hellebore to say goodbye to winter! This herbaceous plant is widespread in our forests even in its spontaneous state. They are truly indispensable and precious thanks to the large and beautiful persistent leaves, the lasting flowering and the ability to self-seed. The Niger species has a white flower and is very early, the colored hybrids (pink, red, yellow) are later.

Autumn anemones

Herbs essential in every garden, even more if in shadow. The leaves, deeply engraved, create large cushions already from spring, but between summer and autumn they light up with elegant and light corollas, similar to butterflies, in colors from white to bright pink. They adapt to different soils, but always slightly moist and well drained. Many spread out easily, becoming invasive.

Heuchera and Heucherella

Evergreen rhizomatous (especially in mild climates) with spectacular lobed foliage. Thanks to the commitment of the breeders we have a rainbow of colors available: silver, pink, red, dark green or acid, orange, black, purple ... sometimes even in contrast. Several times a year they produce flowering stems with small bells, in pink, red or white. Resistant and adaptable plant.


Indispensable in every shady garden. The leaves are amazing: glaucous, dark green, acid green, with large or small margins, striated, with spots or even completely white. Nothing illuminates the darkness like a hostess! If our space is small, choose medium size, but let's not forget the giants to create points of attraction! Beautiful also lilac or white flowering.

Top 10 shadow plants: Hydrangea

The queen of the shadow: vigorous and with an opulent flowering. It prefers acid soils, but it grows well with some care even in neutral ones. Its flowers change color (pink or blue) depending on the pH of the soil. The most widespread are the macrophylla, but should be inserted more tightly the serrata, paniculata, arborescens and quercifolia (with leaves with magnificent warm autumn shades).