What Plants Thrive in Wet Shaded Areas?

Hosta image by Michele Maakestad from Fotolia.com

Though it may seem that the possibilities are quite limited, a great variety of plants can thrive in a wet, shaded environment.

Gardeners looking for plants to add colour and life to a moist and shady area may need to revise their thinking and stop searching for varieties that depend on show-stopping blossoms for interest. Shade- and moisture-loving plants often display their beauty in brilliant and interesting foliage.

Bleeding Heart

Dicentra, the bleeding heart plant, thrives in moist, shaded places. It is a romantic plant with light, airy leaves and sprays of dangling heart-shaped flowers. Dicentra comes in many varieties, such as "Gold Heart," which boasts golden-hued foliage and light pink flowers. Dicentra attracts butterflies into your shade garden and blooms from spring into summer.

Coral Bells

Coral bells come in a wide range of colours. The "Georgia Peach" variety has light peach to pink foliage while "Paris" produces leaves in shades of pale green to emerald green. All coral bells develop a showy bloom in shades of pink and coral that towers above the plant, on stems that can reach 14 inches high. It grows well under trees, in rock gardens and perennial borders. While coral bells do appreciate moist conditions, they are vulnerable to root rot and require good drainage.


Hosta is one of the best-loved plants for filling in wet, shady areas. They come in many shades and patterns, such as the lime green "Fire Island," and "Touch of Class," which has blue leaves striped with gold. Some hostas produce an interesting bloom: "Touch of Class" flowers in a delicate lavender, mid-summer. But hostas are grown mainly for their brilliant foliage. The plant can thrive even in deep shade as long as the soil drains well.

Pitcher Plant

Ten distinct species of pitcher plant are known to grow near the bogs and wetlands of North America. Their delicate and even beautiful "false flowers" trap flies and other insects that dare to enter them. According to the website Botany.com, it is thought that the insects are lured by the scent of prey trapped before them. Pitcher plants can be grown in wet areas of the home garden if the right conditions are provided. Gardens that are regularly treated with pesticides would not provide the ecosystem necessary for the carnivorous pitcher plant.