Shade Plants

Not all plants require full sunlight. In fact many plants prefer shade. This article is dedicated to those wonderful shade plants that thrive on forest floors and other low sunlight environments.

Types of Shade

To say all shade is created equal would be a mistake. For simplicity we’ll refer to three types of shade for the plants we’ll mention here.

It is important to note that shade plants will likely not tolerate the afternoon sun. The afternoon sun is harsh and intense.

Light Shade

Light shade tends to get full sun in the morning or evening, while being completely shaded in the afternoon. Figure that light shade plants will need about six hours of sunlight in a day.

Some full sun plants will grow in light shade, but will not thrive as they would in full sun. Full shade plants may tolerate light shade, but may struggle in the hotter summer days in light shade.

Many light shade plants will thrive under full sun conditions in northern climates.

Part Shade

Morning and/or evening sun of about four hours is all these plants need to thrive. They would also do well with dappled sunlight, all day.

Some light shade plants will grow in part shade, but may not thrive as they would in light shade. Full shade plants will usually tolerate part shade.

Full shade

Only a couple hours of sunlight per day, in the morning or evening, is all full shade plants need. Full shade does not mean no direct sunlight. Plants will not do well with zero sunlight.

Light shade and part shade plants will likely not thrive in full shade.

Ornamental Shade Plants

Common NameBotanical NamePreferred Light
Baby Blue EyesNemophila MenziesiiFull shade
Black-eyed Susan VineThundergia AlataPart shade
BrowalliaBrowallia SpeciosaPart shade
ColeusPlectranthus ScutellarioidesFull shade
Coral BellsHeuchera maximaFull shade
Cup FlowerNierembergia CaeruleaLight shade
Dragonwing BegoniaBegonia X HybridaFull shade
FlossflowerAgeratum HoustonianumLight shade
Flowering TobaccoNicotiana AlataPart shade
Forget Me NotMyosotis SylvaticaFull shade
FuschiaFuchsia magellanicaFull shade
Geranium IvyPelargonium PeltatumPart shade
HelleboreHelleborusFull shade
ImpatiensImpatiens WallerianaPart shade
LarkspurConsolida AjacisPart shade
LobeliaLobelia ErinusLight shade
Monkey FlowerMimulus AurantiacusFull shade
PerillaPerilla FrutescensFull shade
Peppermint GeraniumPelargonium TomentosumLight shade
Persian VioletExacum AffineFull shade
Pink JasmineJasminum PolyanthumLight shade
Polkadot PlantHypoestes PhyllostachyaFull shade
Poorman’s OrchidSchizanthus WisetonensisPart shade
SalviaSalvia SplendensPart shade
Spider FlowerCleome HasslerianaPart shade
Sweet AlyssumLobularia MaritimaLight shade
VincaCatharnus RoseusLight shade
Wax BegoniaBegonia Semperflorens CultorumLight shade
Wishbone FlowerTorenia FournieriFull shade
Younique CarmineAstilbe ChinensisFull shade

Medicinal Shade Plants

The following plants can be used for decorative purposes and they have medicinal properties.

Common NameBotanical NameUsesPreferred Light
AngelicaAngelica ArchangelicaIndigestionFull to Part shade
Anise HyssopAgastache FoeniculumFlu, expectorantPart shade
BistortBistorta Officinalis (Persicaria Bistorta)DiarrheaFull to Part shade
CatnipNepeta catariaAnxiety, indigestion, feverLight shade
CowslipPrimula VerisTension headachePart shade
FeverfewTanacetum PartheniumAsthma, aches and crampsPart shade
GentianGentia LuteaChronic indigestionPart shade
GingerZingiber OfficinaleIndigestionPart shade
Ginger MintMentha GentilisIndigestionPart shade
GoldenrodSolidago VirgoureaFlu, indigestionPart shade
HogweedHeracleum MantegazzianumFlu, cramps, headacheLight shade
HopsHumulus LupulusNervous stomachPart shade
Lady’s MantleAlchemilla MollisDiarrheaPart shade
Lemon BalmMelissae FoliumAnxiety, asthma, achesLight shade
LungwortPulmonaria OfficinalisDiarrheaFull shade
MeadowsweetFilidendula UlmariaDiarrhea, headachePart shade
ParsleyPetroselinium CrispumIndigestionLight shade
PeppermintMentha PiperitaNausea, indigestionPart shade
PrimrosePrimula VulgarisHeadachePart shade
Purple PassionGynura AurantiacaFever, dysenteryPart shade
Roman ChamomileChamaemelum NobileHeadache, stomach achePart shade
St John’s WortHypericum PerforatumDiarrheaPart shade
Sweet CicelyMyrrhis OdorataDigestivePart shade
Sweet VioletViola OdorataHeadachePart shade
Sweet WoodruffGalium OdoratumAntispasmodic, stomach painFull shade
ValerianValerian OfficinalisAnxiety, headachePart shade
Wild GeraniumGeranium MaculatumDiarrheaPart shade
WintergreenGaultheria ProcumbensHeadachePart shade
Wood BetonyBetonica OfficinalisIndigestion, diarrhea, painPart to Full shade

The medicinal use information provided in this article is not health advice and it is provided as is, with no guarantees. This data has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Always do your own research and be sure to discuss the use of medicinal herbs with your physician.