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Gardening in the Shade

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

You can coax a surprising amount of color out of a shade garden. Just choose plants that fit your conditions.

Shade garden with a path to a porch.
Shade-loving plants along a pathway.

All Shade is Not Created Equal

Traditional shade favorites such as hosta, coralbells, coleus, and impatiens do the heavy lifting in the shadiest areas under the trees. Farther from the canopy, a few extra hours of sunlight each day make it possible to include black-eyed Susan and geranium. Enjoy the colorful patchwork from the comfort of an Adirondack chair (#447157, model RCFNC7X967.5-PS).

Good to Know: Plant tags often provide information on the amount of light a plant needs. Full Sun: 6+ hours of sunlight a day. Partial Sun: 4–6 hours. Partial Shade: 2–4 hours. Shade: Less than 2 hours of sunlight a day.

Foliage plants surrounding a porch.

Beauty Beyond Blooms

While it’s hard to miss the black-eyed Susans, red geraniums, and impatiens lining a path, foliage plants bring their own brand of artistry to the garden. They’re large enough to command attention and offer pleasing textural contrasts. Be sure to cluster plants for greatest emphasis.

Hosta plant closeup.

Green Screen

Hostas are a mainstay and will grow in full shade if given enough water. They come in a range of greens and blues -- many with attractive variegation -- and look good meandering in ribbons through other plants. Pair them with annual coleus, which offers bright colors and patterns that contrast handsomely with hosta.

Window boxes on a porch.

A Brighter Idea

With a little sunlight, you can also grow sweet potato vine with lime, chocolate, or variegated foliage.

Shade Garden Planting Plan

This simple planting plan offers plenty of color and texture throughout the growing season. Adaptable black-eyed Susans and geraniums are placed where they get a few extra hours of sunlight a day.

Illustration of planting plan.
  1. Hosta ‘Patriot’
  2. Hosta (Hosta plantaginea)
  3. Geranium (Pelargonium spp.)
  4. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
  5. Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)
  6. Hosta ‘Big Mama’
  7. Impatiens
  8. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)
  9. Hosta ‘Fortunei Aureomarginata’
  10. Coralbells (Heuchera spp.)
A lime-color sweet potato vine stands out in combination with the burgundy, red, and pink coleus in a vintage container. --Lowe’s Creative Ideas

Container Combo

A lime-color sweet potato vine stands out in combination with a burgundy, red, and pink coleus in a vintage container.