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Selecting the right plant for shade gardens

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Fuchsia 'Checkerboard'.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

The following list contains plants that thrive in the three different types of shade. Because significantly fewer flowering plants do well in shade than in sun, it is best to consider plants with decorative and long-lasting foliage and with interesting shapes and textures. Looking for inspiration? Take a stroll through the Shade Garden at the Montréal Botanical Garden and you're sure to find it!

Legend

  1. Light shade
  2. Medium shade
  3. Dense shade

Conifers

  • Microbiota decussata (1-2)
  • Taxus cuspidata (1 à 3)
  • Taxus x media (1 à 3)
  • Tsuga canadensis (1-2)

Evergreen shrubs

  • Buxus microphylla var. koreana (1-2)
  • Euonymus fortunei (1-2)
  • Ilex x meserveae (1-2)
  • Mahonia aquifolium (1-2)
  • Rhododendron catawbiense (1-2)

Climbers

  • Aristolochia macrophylla (1)
  • Hydrangea petiolaris (1-2)
  • Menispermum canadense (1 à 3)
  • Parthenocissus quinquefolia (1 à 3)

Deciduous shrubs

  • Aronia arbutifolia (2)
  • Clethra alnifolia (1-2)
  • Cornus alba 'Aurea' (1-2)
  • Cornus alba 'Elegantissima' (1-2)
  • Cornus stolonifera 'Cardinal' (1-2)
  • Cornus stolonifera 'Flaviramea' (1-2)
  • Euonymus alatus (1-2)
  • Forsythia 'Northern Gold' (1-2)
  • Hamamelis virginiana (1-2)
  • Hydrangea quercifolia (1-2)
  • Ilex verticillata (1-2)
  • Kerria japonica (1-2)
  • Physocarpus opulifolius (1-2)
  • Rhododendron spp. (1-2)
  • Rubus odoratus (1-2)
  • Sambucus racemosa 'Sutherland Gold' (1)
  • Sorbaria sorbifolia (1 à 3)
  • Stephanandra incisa 'Crispa' (1-2)
  • Symphoricarpos spp. (1-2)
  • Viburnum acerifolium (1-2)
  • Viburnum lantana 'Mohican' (1-2)
  • Viburnum sargentii (1-2)

Perennials

  • Aconitum napellus (1)
  • Actaea rubra (1-2)
  • Ajuga reptans (1)
  • Aquilegia canadensis (1)
  • Arenaria verna (1-2)
  • Aruncus dioicus (1 à 3)
  • Asarum europaeum (1 à 3)
  • Astilbe spp. (1-2)*
  • Brunnera macrophylla (1-2)
  • Campanula carpatica (1)
  • Cimicifuga racemosa (1-2)
  • Convallaria majalis (1 à 3)
  • Cornus canadensis (1-2)
  • Dicentra spectabilis (1-2)
  • Digitalis purpurea (1-2)
  • Epimedium spp. (1 à 3)*
  • Geranium phaeum (1 à 3)
  • Hedera helix (1-2)
  • Helleborus orientalis (1-2)
  • Hepatica acutiloba (2)
  • Hepatica americana (2)
  • Heuchera americana (1-2)
  • Heuchera micrantha (1-2)
  • Hosta spp. (1 à 3)*
  • Houttuynia cordata (1-2)
  • Kirengeshoma palmata (1-2)
  • Lamium galeobdolon (1 à 3)
  • Lamium maculatum (1 à 3)
  • Ligularia dentata (1-2)
  • Ligularia przewalskii (1-2)
  • Lysimachia nummularia (1-2)
  • Maianthemum canadense (1 à 3)
  • Mertansia pulmonarioides (1-2)
  • Myosotis scorpioides (1-2)
  • Pachysandra terminalis (1 à 3)
  • Polygonatum multiflorum (1 à 3)
  • Primula spp. (1-2)*
  • Pulmonaria spp. (1-2)*
  • Rodgersia spp. (2)
  • Tiarella cordifolia (2-3)
  • Tricyrtis hirta (1-2)
  • Trillium grandiflorum (1-2)
  • Vinca minor (1 à 3)
  • Viola odorata (1 à 3)

Ornamental grasses & related plants

  • Deschampsia caespitosa (1)
  • Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' (1)
  • Molinia caerulea (1)

Hardy bulbs

  • Chionodoxa luciliae (1-2)
  • Galanthus nivalis (1-2)
  • Lilium martagon (1-2)
  • Muscari armeniacum (1-2)
  • Narcissus cvs (1-2)*
  • Ornithogalum umbellatum (1)
  • Scilla siberica (1 à 3)

Ferns

  • Adiantum pedatum (1 à 3)
  • Athyrium niponicum (1-2)
  • Matteuccia spp. (1 à 3)*
  • Osmunda regalis (1 à 3)
  • Polystichum acrostichoides (1 à 3)

Annuals or plants cultivated as annuals

  • Begonia (gr. Semperflorens-Cultorum) (1)
  • Begonia (gr. Tuberhybrida) (1-2)
  • Browallia viscosa (1-2)*
  • Fuchsia cvs (1-2)*
  • Lobelia erinus (1)
  • Myosotis spp. (1-2)*

 

* A number of species or cultivars are suited to shady sites.

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