In the Dark-How to Pick the Right Shade Plants


Fall is just around the corner, so I’m trying to figure out how to pick the right shade plants. I have some space left to add some plants but with the seasons changing, my little balcony will soon be in shade most of the day. This is probably a good time to add shade plants to my garden. 

Since starting my balcony garden, I’ve discovered that for part of the year I can grow full sun and partial shade plants. This time of year is when its best to plant part sun to full shade plants. Some of my plants went dormant in the fall/winter of last year, but this year it would be nice to add plants that thrive in shade.

In the Dark-How to Pick the Right Shade Plants

Where to Start?

Its best to start doing research on the types of shade plants you want by looking online. Another way to do research is to wander the aisles of your local garden shops. This is my personal favorite since I enjoy freely walking around these places and seeing plants I may be interested in buying in person.

If you choose to window shop in person, don’t be afraid to ask the employees which plants would grow best in your garden. Most of them are very knowledgeable and are happy to help you.

In the Dark-How to Pick the Right Shade Plants
Toad Lily

Shade Plant Care

You may have ground space you can plant your new addition in, but if you are like me you will need to get a container suitable for your plant. Make sure the container has holes in it for the water to drain through. If you want more information on what type of container to get, check out my post here.

Also, get the right soil so that your plant will thrive and stay happy all season long. I use Miracle Gro Potting Mix. It sells at Home Depot for a great price and I use it for most of my plants.

Due to my small balcony garden, I aim to buy the smallest size the plant comes in, ideally one smaller than the container I will place it in. Every now and then I will buy seeds if I want to challenge myself. I love watching a small plant grow into a larger one as time goes by.

In the Dark-How to Pick the Right Shade Plants

Types of Shade Plants

Below is an abbreviated list of shade plants for any garden. Some of these grow best in the ground but some can thrive in containers. As you will notice, all of these are flowering plants. Since I’m a flower girl, I left off any leaf only shade plants, although there are plenty of those.

Some of these plants grow best in certain areas of the country. Please do some research and ask others before purchasing any of these plants.

In the Dark-How to Pick the Right Shade Plants
Bleeding Heart


These are my personal favorite shade plants. They come in several colors. I recently found some hydrangeas being sold at a bargain price at one of the local farmer markets.

Hydrangeas prefer afternoon shade, but as long as they get partial shade during some part of they day, they should grow well.

In the Dark-How to Pick the Right Shade Plants

Bleeding Heart

This unusual and colorful shade plant is at the top of my list of shade plants to get as well. They come in pink and white and are shaped like hearts that are opened as if bleeding at the bottom. They also make great container plants.


These hardy shade loving plants produce beautifully colorful flowers that hang from their branches. They can be grown upward as a vine or in a hanging basket. We have ours in a hanging basket.

Fuchsias can grow all year long, based on where you live. Ours had a dry spell at the beginning of the year, but it has continued to produce beautiful pink and red flowers since I bought it last summer.

In the Dark-How to Pick the Right Shade Plants


Bunchberry is a native of North America that grows on the ground of woodlands. They thrive in cold climates. Bunchberries produce pretty white flowers that would make a great addition to your shade garden.


Vincas are small but easy to grow plants with pretty flowers that come in various shades of white, red, pink and purple. The ones I have are dark pink in the middle and then fade out to white at the end of each petal. Vincas are inexpensive and great at keeping away weeds.

Vincas are small enough to grow in containers. The light pink ones I bought about a month ago are enjoying their space in one of my hanging shelves. I bought these in a small enough size so that they can grow a little more in the container.

In the Dark-How to Pick the Right Shade Plants



Columbine flowers come in red, orange and yellow. It prefers full sun or full shade. Deadheading keeps this plant from growing too large or spreading out.

Jacob’s Ladder

This plant grows leaves in a ladder like way, hence the name. The shade plant produces pretty blue flowers and can grow up to 24 inches in height. These plants enjoy part shade as well.

In the Dark-How to Pick the Right Shade Plants

Toad Lilly

These beautiful flowers grow all over our apartment complex. They look similar to orchids and are easy to grow, which make them great plants for beginner gardeners. Toad lillies come in white or lavender with yellow centers, as well as hybrid combination colors.


These plants are much more beautiful than their name implies. These come in a variety of colors and can grow up to a foot long, which make them ideal for small gardens or small areas of shade.

Hellebore/Lenten Rose

This rose like flower also goes by another name, Christmas rose. The beautiful flowers from this shade plant come in white, red, cream, pink and green.

In the Dark-How to Pick the Right Shade Plants


These unusually beautiful plants come in white, pink, red and lavender. Their leaves are similar to ferns. They are easy to grow and make great container plants.

Enjoy Your New Shade Plant(s)

This is my list of shade plants to try in your garden. There are many other flowering and leaf only shade plants you can grow as well. If you haven’t already, I hope you learned something about how to pick the right shade plants for your garden.

Please let me know if you have tried to grow these plants or others not on the list by commenting below. I love getting suggestions. Happy shade gardening!


I am a blogger and gardener. I love sharing my ideas about gardening in small spaces and on a budget. To learn more about me, please visit my site