Plants that grow in full shade

Updated February 21, 2017

Shaded areas in gardens are often neglected because homeowners believe that flowers and plants can't survive without sunlight. Those shady places don't have to remain barren, however; there are many plants that thrive in full shade. These plants will help you create an attractive shade garden, filled with colour and interesting foliage.

Autumn fern

Also known as the pink shield fern, autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) does best when planted in full shade. This plant's fronds emerge in the spring as a shade of copper-red, turn bronze and finally change to a shade of shiny, dark green. In midsummer, the autumn fern is light green. To add further interest to this plant, the upright growing fronds have a lacy appearance. This deciduous plant grows 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet) tall and spreads 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet) wide. Plant them in partial to full shade and damp soil.


The fuchsia plant (Fuchsia triphylla) is prized for its showy flowers. These plants can either grow upright as shrubs, or as trailing plants that are ideal for use in hanging baskets. They can grow 30 cm to 1.2 m (1 to 4 feet) tall. The flowers hang suspended from the plant in a tear drop shape, and come in an array of colours, including white and red, purple and pink, or orange and yellow. This deciduous plant also produces green leaves. Full shade, moist soil and temperatures of 23.9 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) are the prime growing conditions for this plant. Fuchsia are a common sight in gardens across Britain.

Coral bells

The flowers of this shade-loving plant are what inspired its name, coral bells (Heuchera species), as they are small and bell-shaped. The blooms come in shades of pink, lavender and red, and grow on shoots that rise from the top of the foliage. The flowers are just an added bonus to the showy foliage. The leaves grow in mounds in a number of colours, including copper, black, chartreuse and purple.


Periwinkle (Vinca minor) is ideal for use as a groundcover in a shady area where grass won't grow. The plant grows approximately 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) high and has shiny leathery green leaves that are about 2.5 cm (1 inch) long. It is known for the small star shaped flowers it produces that range in colour from violet-blue, pink or white. Though this shade-loving plant has attractive qualities, it does become invasives. As such, take care when you plant it to ensure that it doesn't overrun your garden.

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About the Author

Lily Mae began freelance writing in 2008. She is a certified elementary and literacy educator who has been working in education since 2003. Mae is also an avid gardener, decorator and craft maker. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in education and a Master of Science in literacy education from Long Island University.