Shady areas present a challenge when it comes to what to plant. Books, magazines and TV all make it look so easy, when in reality getting plants to grow in the shade can be tricky. The saying "the right plant in the right place" comes true, especially when planting into a shady area.
The plants on this page, and the various links, are all plants which either prefer shade, or will adapt to growing in it, and many are easy to grow. In addition, not specifically listed, but well worth checking out, there are Roses and Clematis which have been bred to grow well in partial shade by the specialist growers. I have successfully grown a lemon coloured rose in a very shady area in the garden which was purchased from David Austin Roses, and specifically recommended to grow in shade, which it did.
There are many plants which thrive in shade which means the shady areas of the garden can be just as attractive as the sunny borders. Illustrated below are a range of plants and shrubs which will grow well in the shade and another page which looks at plants and shrubs suited to damp shade.
Most of these plants will tolerate dappled or light shade. More difficult are areas of dense shade and dry shade.
Plants tolerant of dense shade tend to be foliage plants. There are varieties of Hosta which are very shade tolerant. Many ferns will grow in shade and will also tolerate dry shade, which can be hard to accommodate.
Epimedium, a spring flowering low growing ground cover plant is happy in full shade, as is Convallaria majalis, Lily of the Valley.
Dry shade is difficult and it can help to add organic matter to the soil to help retain water by improving the soil structure. Leaf mould is good to improve structure, and as a mulch to keep moisture.
When planting into a dry area it is essential to water to get plants established.
If the dry shade is created by deciduous trees, many of the spring bulbs will grow well before the leaf canopy forms in late spring.