Shade Dwellers

Do you have a garden or balcony that lacks sunlight? One complaint often heard by us here at Eden is that you can’t find any colour to grow in the shade.  There are plenty of plants that thrive away from the limelight, but you certainly need to know where to find them!  Our Green Team are always happy to share their knowledge and experience with you to help you achieve the look you’re after, but here are some treasures we normally stock that look terrific in the shade.  Go get ‘em!

Ground covers:

Lamiums, also known as dead nettles, are wonderful flowering low growing plants that love growing in the shade.  Three varieties in particular have wonderful foliage ‘White Nancy’, ‘Pink Nancy’ that has silvery leaves and either white or pink flowers, and ‘Stripy Nancy’ which has…you guessed it, green and silver striped foliage.  They are perfect for massed planting under trees, using in window boxes and hanging baskets, or trailing over the edges of tall pots.

Glechoma ‘Variegata’ is one of the prettiest groundcovers around and has beautiful heart shaped leaves that are lightly aromatic and edged in creamy white.  The dainty flowers are violet and appear in profusion each spring.  Perfect for vertical gardens and baskets, where their lovely trailing habit can be showcased.

Ipomea ‘Bright Ideas’ is an ornamental form of sweet potato.  They are great for sun or shade and thrive in pots, planters and even vertical gardens.  There are different colours including red, black, rust and lime.  These are members of the sweet potato family and as such the tubers are edible.

Heuchera are butterfly attractingperennials that are useful for planting as a ground cover in the shade or using to add foliage colour to containers. ‘Sugar Plum’, ‘Peppermint Slice’, ‘Day Glow’, ‘Wild Rose’ and ‘Black Pearl’ have pink, silver, chocolate, plum and near black leaves respectively.  Their coral and pink coloured bells in spring are an extra feature.


Bulbs and Perennials:

Aquilegia or grannies’ bonnets as they are also known, have wonderful flowers that look like bonnets in tones of blue, pink, yellow and white, with maidenhair-like foliage that is a soft grey green.  They grow well under trees and will also set seed and naturalise if the woodland conditions suit them.

Calla lilies are one of those few plants that will happily grow in damp, even boggy conditions.  The Zantedeschia hybrids actually need half a day’s sun to flower reliably, but the reward is stunning near black, maroon, yellow, gold, mango and pink flowers throughout late spring and summer.

Solenostemonor Coleusthrive in the shade. Their foliage is mostly what they are grown for, with stunning beetroot splashed, lime margins and russet orange leaves – some with ruffled margins and others deeply indented like frogs’ feet.  We stock some beauties.  Check out ‘Torchlight’, ‘Frogs Foot’ and ‘Coral Ruffles’

Crinum pendunculatum all swamp lily is another bulbous plant that, as the name suggests, doesn’t mind growing in boggy soil.  It is actually an Australian native (though is also native to some Pacific Islands) and has perfumed white flowers in October and November.



Hydrangeas are one of the most loved plants for shady gardens.  Their huge flowerheads of white, blue, purple and pink and a sensation all summer, and then remain throughout autumn in green and pinkish tones as they fade.  Hydrangeas are wonderful cut flowers, great potted plants and cope with a wide range of climates, from cool to tropical, if they get enough water. Pink hydrangeas are a result of lime-based soil and blue hydrangeas are a sign of an acid soil.  White hydrangeas are unaffected by the soil pH.

Pieris are closely related to Azaleas but have flowers that look like lily of the valley – hanging down in chains of tiny white bells.  They love an acid soil and grow well in pots of in the ground.  Aside from their beautiful spring flowers, they have red new growth that looks great as the leaves unfurl.

Azaleas are terrific for spring flowers, but if you want ‘year-round’ colour you can’t go past ‘Shiraz’, which has burgundy coloured leaves.  It makes a fantastic border and is a terrific hedge, perfect for underplanting trees. The cherry pink flowers look lovely in August and spot flower throughout the year.

Hedging Plants:

Ever heard of Mackayabella?  It’s not the most common plant, but it is one of the most useful.  Also known as forest bell bush, it flowers throughout October and November with pale lilac bells, and the rest of the year has glassy, dark green foliage thick to the ground and up to about 2.5m, making it the perfect screening or hedging plant for a shaded plant.


by Meredith Kirton