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When you are looking to fill in those vacant areas under trees and eaves, be prepared to do some extra work to make your efforts successful. This landscaping zone is the hardest place to grow plants. The reason for this is less sunlight for plants to produce sugars and less moisture for roots to draw upon.
There are some things you can do to help those plants grow well and one is to make sure you add a little compost to the ground. This can be done by turning the soil between the roots and adding composted material.
Also, make sure to water the area you planted very well and add a layer of mulch to help keep moisture within the soil. Also try to plant at least a foot away from trees and keep mulch at least 50mm thick.
Below we have listed some of the best 25 plants for dry shade there is!
25 plants for dry shady conditions
1. Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)
A very pretty white flower adorns the dark green lily-like leaves when in full bloom. Its growing season spreads across Spring, Summer, and Fall, the flowers usually bloom during the Spring.
If you do not want tall plants, this low-growing option gets between 1/2 to 1 foot in height. Rhizomes are the method this flower spreads and it is perfect for zone 3 growers.
2. lilyturf (Liriope muscari)
Its looks may fool you as it has the appearance of grass. Growing to a height of 9 to 18 inches, this flower blooms in late summer and early fall and produces nice-looking lavender flowers.
The dark green leaves help highlight those flowers making it a very pretty zone 4 to 10 plant.
Plant this flower in partial shade and in any good soil you have around but do not overwater it as the roots can rot with too much moisture.
3. Wood fern (Dryopteris filix-mas)
Growing this plant requires good drainage to get it to its full 2 to 3-foot height and spread. It can grow in zones 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a, This is a semi-evergreen perennial fern that reproduces through spores.
Wood ferns need heavy shade and one of its enemies is deer. The leaf grows to 8 inches long and about 6 inches wide.
4. Japanese aralia (Fatsia japonica)
This plant is known by a variety of names and it can grow as tall as 20 feet and reach up to 6 feet wide. The fruit it bears is black and harvest time is in the winter. Fatsia needs moist soil with good drainage.
The zones it grows best in are 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a, and when it blooms it produces creamy white flowers.
5. Common laurustinus (Viburnum tinus)
Its native area is found in the Mediterranean areas of Africa and Europe and it is slightly salt and drought tolerant. Its blooming season is winter to spring where it produces pretty pink buds that open up to white flower.
When planted and cared for it will grow up to 12 feet high and spread out to 6 feet wide. it grows well in zones 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a.
6. Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)
Here is a plant that likes its roots planted in the shade and wants its leaves, etc. to grow towards the sun. Its native habitat is woods, hedgerows, scrub, and shady places. which are made prettier but their ivory with purple-tinged flowers which are very fragrant.
When planted in zones 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a it can grow between 10 and 20 feet high and spread out between 3 to 6 feet wide.
7. Japanese Anemone (Anemone x hybrid)
When your garden encompasses zones 4 to 8, this white or light pink flowering plant is perfect. It will grow to between 4 and 8 feet in height and add a very subtle colour arrangement to your garden.
What is especially good about this plant is that deer and rabbits are not attracted to it. The other good news is that hummingbirds like this plant. It will grow in any soil and blooms during the fall.
8. Firehorn (Pyracantha coccinea)
This is the perfect plant when you need to practice some good erosion control. It grows well on slopes and produces bird-loving red berries. While it grows up to 18 feet high and about 20 feet wide, it still needs protection from cold winds and frost.
Even though it is cold hardy. Plant in zones 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a for best results.
9. Barrenwort (epimedium sagittatum)
Known by many names including Epimedium, Barrenwort, or Bishop's Hat, this is a plant that likes the shade. So far there are 20 species of this plant for sale in America with 35 identified in its native range of China.
Plant in early spring and make sure the soil is well-drained. This plant spreads underground but needs moist soil during its first year to get established. Semi shade zones produce the best flowers.
10. French Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
This is a shade-loving shrub that when taken care of produces ball-shaped blossom clusters. It can grow up to 6 feet in either direction and the shrub can be a little poisonous.
If eaten you can feel nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, sweating. This shrub has a wide growing region doing well in zones 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10a, 10b, 11b, 11a.
11. Wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides)
The growing conditions for this 12 to 20-inch high plant are dry to medium moist, loose soil that is well-drained. Also, it does not like hot and humid summers.
One good aspect is that it seems to be unattractive to diseases and insects.
The best growing regions are zones 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a.
12. Japanese skimmia (Skimmia japonica)
This is a morning sun-loving evergreen shrub that grows up to about 4 feet in height. After the morning it prefers the shade. Its red flowers stick around until winter which make this shrub very fragrant.
Unfortunately, it does not grow well in many different zones preferring 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b.
13. Christmas rose (Helleborus niger)
The name came from its flowering season. This flower likes to bring out its white flowers at Christmas time which lasts until spring but it does not like bright winter sun or high temperatures.
Skimmia likes to grow in zones 3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a and it is only toxic when eaten in large quantities.
14. Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
When in bloom this is a very colourful plant. While it is an evergreen, ground cover, plant that grows up to 2 feet in height and is very wide, it also produces pretty yellow flowers that complement the holly-like leaves.
After the summer season, this plant will also, bring out some very interesting-looking blue/purple berries. it grows best in zone 4, very hardy and tolerant of most growing conditions.
15. Sweet box (Sarcococca saligna)
Also known as the Christmas box, this plant can grow to 5 feet tall and also spread out over 5 feet. It is great for zone 6b and its most attractive feature is it can bloom during the winter.
The red berries that follow the blooming season will turn black through the following summer and last until the following winter. Prune after flowering but this plant only needs light maintenance.
16. Plantain Lilies (Hosta sieboldiana)
To bring out all the benefits this plant has, you need to grow it in some sun but mostly shady conditions. Use rich, moist, and slightly acidic soil to make sure its bell-like flowers bloom well.
Along with its up to 13-inch blue-grey leaves, this plant can grow up to 26 inches high and crowd out weeds, However, it can be very vulnerable to slugs and snails.
17. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
Here is a flower that will really make your garden colourful. It blooms come in different colours and it likes only partial sun making it right for zones 4 - 10. It will self-seed and you need to let the flowers go to seed if you want this biennial to bloom into the following season.
Its flowering time is early summer and can grow between 2 and 5 feet tall. The downside to this plant is that it is poisonous.
18. Myrtle (Vinca minor)
This plant can also be called Periwinkle and it is another low maintenance plant that enjoys shady or partly shady slopes. Planting it in zones 4 - 8 will be optimal and help it to grow to between 3 and 6 inches high.
Spring is when its blue or purple flowers come out and it is hard to keep contained once it establishes itself.
19. Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)
When treated right, this plant produces some beautiful chartreuse flowers that help perk up your garden. It is a very hardy plant for zone 3 and can also work for zones 4-6 as well.
You can expect its size to get to between 1-1 ½ feet tall and 1 ½-2 ½ feet wide and its flowers to bloom in June. The flowers are great for dry, floral arrangements.
20. Bigroot geranium (geranium macrorrhizum)
Its claim to fame is its strong fragrance and its pink, purple or white blossoms that adorn its 7 lobed green leaves. This plant will grow to 1 to 1 1/2 feet high and spread out between 1 to 2 feet.
Geraniums are prolific and will self-seed but it is not invasive. Native to Southern Europe it grows well in zones 3 to 8 and tolerates dry soil conditions.
21. Common Ivy (Hedera helix)
When you want to hide bad-looking walls, fences, and other structures, this climbing plant will grow up to 80 feet high and cover up to 50 feet in width.
It can grow well in the following zones- 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b, 12b, 12a, 13a, 13b making it a very hardy specimen needing little care.
22. David Viburnum (Viburnum davidii)
Coming from China, this plant grows as wide as it does high, 3 to 5 feet. What makes this plant so attractive is its ability to grow flowers and fruit for most of the year. It likes both shade and full sun and grows best in zones 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a.
Also, it does not seem to suffer from diseases or insect enemies, but watch out for leaf scorch during a hot summer.
23. Japanese laurel (Aucuba japonica)
In comparison to other plants on this list, this variety is a monster., It can grow and spread to 10 feet approx. but it does bear some autumn fruit to offset the decorative green leaves.
It will grow in shade, dry soil, and will tolerate pollution as well as coastal climates making it very adaptable. Aucuba will bloom in early spring and is great for zones 10, 6, 7, 8, 9.
24. Butchers broom (Ruscus aculeatus)
While the flowers are not that special, it is the red berries that are most striking. These form during the late summer and last into the winter season. They are highlighted by the small green leaves that are sharp and glossy. This shrub gets to 1 1/2 to 3 feet high and between 2 & 4 feet wide.
It can be grown in either partial shade or deep shade and requires very low maintenance. This small shrub is very tolerant of dry soil conditions.
25. Fortunes spindle (Euonymus fortunei)
This is a low growing shrub that is perfect for decorating dry borders or shady areas. Being a non-native plant in Europe and North America and it is often called the Chinese spindle.
It comes in three main colours green, gold and silver. Its compact and low growing habit make it great for ground cover and filling out the front of borders.
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Paul Nicolaides has over 30 years of recreational gardening and 20 years of professional landscaping experience. He has worked for landscape contractors including design and build practices across London and the South East. In 2006 he qualified with a BA Hons degree and post graduate diploma in Landscape Architecture. In 2009 he founded Ecospaces an ecological landscaping practice which aims to improve social cohesion and reduce climate change through landscaping. In 2016 he founded Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners which designs and builds gardens across Buckinghamshire and the South East. This blog aims to provide easy problem solving information to its audience and encourage others to take up the joy of landscaping and gardening.