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Plants That Grow in the Dark & Shades- Our Ultimate List

Plants That Grow in the Dark

When thinking about gardening, most of us know that sunlight is a necessity for a healthy plant. Since photosynthesis requires light to produce the green pigmentation found in plants, this appears to be solid reasoning. However, you can create a gorgeous landscape with limited light.

The Best Plants for Dark and Shaded Areas

Both foliage and flower plants are well-suited for areas where there is little light. These plants are anything but dull in color, and you can purchase them in a variety of shades to accent any landscape perfectly.


Labeled the “queen of the shade garden”, this plant grows in a variety of patterns, shapes, sizes, and colors. The size ranges from as small as a teacup to a tire from a truck.

It is a very tough plant and can grow in colder climates. It needs rich soil and regular watering to survive.

There are varieties of this plant that do well in the shade and do not require direct sunlight. These include columbine, coral bells, and ferns. This low-light plant lasts for many years and can provide a garden with a splash of color.

Coral Bells

Coral bells are known for their forms, patterns, and color. They range from lemon-colored to almost black. This plant is great for landscaping a backyard as it comes in a variety of colors.

The leaves bloom in the late spring to early summer. As a semi-evergreen perennial, it can tolerate a variety of soil conditions and lighting. The soil should drain well and needs to be evenly moist.

These shade plants can be incorporated for borders, planting, or places strategically in containers throughout the yard.


These shade loving plants give an exotic feel to your backyard. It gained its popularity as a Victorian plant. Now it is desired for the arrow-shaped leaves ranging from white to multi-colored.

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The caladium adds color to dark corners where light may be scant. They are grown from plants, or you can purchase tubers. For cooler environments, it is best to buy them as plants. You may require a heat source for this low light plant, like a heating mat or a greenhouse, as they need heat.


Coleus plants can be grown as an low light indoor plant and outdoors in partial shade. They are a summer annual and desired for their leaves which come in various colors/patterns. They need nutrient-rich soil which drains well. It needs moist soil to thrive, and you can replant cuttings to start a new growing plant.

The coleus provides the most vibrant color when they receive some direct light in the morning and are protected from the afternoon heat and direct light. You can use them as an accent, as a bedding plant, or in a mixed border. 

Japanese Forest Grass

This grass does well in the shade and looks like a shaggy, sprouting bush. It is a deciduous perennial that sprouts in mounding clumps. The variegated or golden types of this grass can bring lighter colors to dark areas.

They do well in a mixture of lighting ranging from a bit of sun to full shade. The Japanese Forest Grass needs soil that drains well and consistent moisture. This grass is used along slopes, against a foundation, and as a groundcover in landscaping. You can also plant them in containers.


The fern plant dates to the prehistoric dinosaur era. This perennial is sought after for its fronds (some unique) and provides texture to landscaping. Dozens of types of ferns are available, which adapt readily to different conditions. They do require rich soil with good moisture levels.

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The Western Sword Fern is tolerant of dry, humid weather and is great for dry shaded areas. They do well when paired with bishop’s hat, primrose, hosta, wood sorrel, and masterwort.


This plant is a reliable, easy to care for groundcover. It contains multi-seasonal foliage and bursts forth with lavender, white or pink flowers in spring. The leaves can range from light silver, white, a variety, and yellow and brighten up shaded areas.

It does well in partial to full shade and rich soil. The Deadnettle quickly fills in an area and grows in difficult areas for most plants to thrive in. It will grow under trees or in dry, shaded areas.

Note that it can grow quite aggressively in certain locations, which may be a factor you may want to consider before purchasing one.


The lungwort is a perennial that blooms in spring. The flowers come in different shades of blue, coral, pink, and white, and the leaves are spotted, silver, or green and provide the perfect backdrop for these gorgeous flowers. They also grow larger as the season moves forward.

They need regular moisture and rich soil. The lungwort also does well in boggy places.


This classic favorite blossoms in the summer and fall months. It is a deciduous shrub that is available in different forms and species.

They need consistent watering and rich soil conditions,  though some tolerate very dry areas. The flowers are red, pink, purple, blue, and white. They make excellent property borders, mixed borders, or as an accent plant.

They do better in some sunlight as opposed to full shade.


A cottage-style flower produces bell-shaped flowers blooming in late spring and throughout the summer. The most common form of this plant is the biennial which sprouts flowers in its second year.

They are great to fill in gaps in your landscape and go well with a mixed border. The foxglove needs moist, rich soil to remain healthy and do well in part-day sunlight. They can be placed along a slope, in woodland environments, as a wildflower meadow for large areas, or as a cottage garden.

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This flower is the preferred choice for shade plants. It blooms non-stop, beginning in late spring straight through until frost. They are tropical annuals and come in many colors. Impatiens grow rapidly and fill large areas.

They need well-draining soil, consistent watering, and are relatively low maintenance. Impatiens are good to place in flower beds, at the forefront of a border, and in containers.

The only downside of this plant is they are susceptible to mildew.

Bleeding Heart

The bleeding heart plant is very romantic. With red, pink, or white flowers in the shape of a heart, they attach to arching stems, giving it a special type of beauty.

They do well in conjunction with bold-leafed plants and hosta plants. They will grow and cover foliage that is dying.

They need rich soil that drains well and receives regular moisture. If you want a longer-lasting plant, the fringed bleeding heart and western bleeding heart blooms into fall with constant watering.

This plant provides a dramatic statement to any landscape.

While most people wouldn’t fathom plants growing in shade or dark conditions, nature has produced some of the most beautiful shade loving plants. They burst forth in a variety of colors and styles that are suitable for any backyard area, even those without bright indirect light.

Many can be used to fill spaces, while others will provide that burst of color to your lawn. When buying them, be sure they will grow well in your environment and that you have the best soil conditions possible to keep them healthy.