Full Shade Plants

We frequently get questions about what to plant in shady areas. While shade does limit your options, there are some great hardy plants to choose for part shade or full shade.

Yews are always a good choice. These are soft needle evergreens. Spreaders grow about 3-4’ tall and wide. Upright yews grow app. 8-10 feet and are often planted on a corner of a home.

Typically plants that bloom, and plants that have color, do not do well in shade. Two exceptions to this are PJM or Ramapo Rhododendrons and Annabelle Hydrangeas. Rhododendrons have a beautiful lavender bloom in spring and have a thick glossy leaf that holds through the winter. Annabelle Hydrangeas have white “snowball” shaped blooms and grow about 4-5 feet.


There are several perennials that will grow well in full shade. Hostas are the most common shade plant and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. At Natural Plus we carry small hostas such as “Church Mouse” (which grows about 6 inches tall) to large hostas like “Empress Wu” (which grows up to 5 feet tall and wide) – and many other varieties and sizes in-between. Hostas come in various shades of green, white, yellows and blue.  Most bloom with a white or lavender bloom.

Black Lace Elderberries grow app. 4’ tall and have burgundy leaves and a long bloom. They are an alternative to Japanese Red Maples that do not grow well in North Iowa. Another taller full shade perennial is Sun King Aralia. It grows 4-5 feet tall and its bright golden yellow color brightens up any shade garden.

Some other smaller full shade perennials include Ferns, Lungwort, Goat’s Beard, Bleeding Hearts, Brunneras, Columbine, Foam Flowers, Coral Bells, Solomon’s Seal,  Snakeroot, Toad Lilies and some varieties of ground covers.

Part Shade Areas:

If you have an area that is part shade and part sun (at least 4 hours of sun a day), your options for plants increase tremendously. The staff at Natural Plus can help you decide which plants will grow best in your area.