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What shrubs/flowers can I plant in a very shady border?


Any ideas on what i can plant in a full shaded border?

The border is about 1.2m deep and about 8m long, and gets little or no direct sunlight.




  • The Rubus odoratus works very well in shade. 

  • I have one like that. Grows moss beautifully.

    And - Astilbe, Japanese Anemones, Perennial Geraniums, Ferns, Aquilegia, London Pride, Bluebells,

    Alliums, Lily of the Valley, Dwarf Rhododendrons, -

    I'll have a look in daylight!

    I have some trees and shrubs as well, and a Holly that seeded itself in a very suitable situation and is now about 8 ft. tall. It needs a bit of trimming when I can find the courage to brave the cold.

  • Mark56Mark56 Posts: 1,653

    Fuchsias, sarcococca - amazing winter scent and glossy evergreen foliage, hypericum & hydrangeas will take quite a bit of shade too. Are we talking under the canopy of a tree? 

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,699

    For shrubs, all types of Hypericums cope well in shade. Sarcococca Confusa and Hookeriana both do fine in shade. Choysia ternata may flower less, but this does not affect its evergreen leaves.

    For perennials, Thalictrums, Astrantias, Dicentras and the white form of Japanese Anemone prefer cool shade away from harsh sun. For ground cover, Ajuga Reptans and Vinca Minor will do a good job of colonising bare space. 

    If you have netural to acidic soil conditions, work in some organic matter to open up the soil, you could try Toad lilies, Tricyrtis Formonsana and Anemonopsis Macrophylla. They look great under a shrub canopy protected from winds.

    Last edited: 06 February 2018 17:52:20

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,063

    Meconopsis cambrica will seed around freely .

    Convallaria , Eomecon , Geum , Liriope , Polygonatum spring to mind ; these plus all of the above recommendations all point to an extremely interesting border .

    Smilacina stellata and racemosa will grow well in shade .

    There are some excellent ferns widely available nowadays ; these too form a good focal point (if kept moist)!

  • Last year I planted 2 brunnera, “Jack Frost” and ”Alexander’s great” in deep shade, one in damp shade, the other under a tree in very dry shade, they both exceeded my expectations. Fairly insignificant flowers, but gorgeous foliage.

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  • UpNorthUpNorth Posts: 376

    I have a very similar sized bed, but the OP didn't site whether her soil is sandy/clay nor whether the shade is from trees sucking the water out, or just a fence.  i would imagine trees given the length.

    my long dark bed is underneath some mature canopy after early may.  i'm planning to edit mine with fatsia/mahonia for structure and convalaria, ferns, maybe some foxglove seeds and later some more spring bulbs if the bed's not full enough.  

    i thought hostas would struggle in dry shade otherwise i'd love to have some Patriot Hosta in there to brighten it up.  

    Further suggestions welcome for cheap to cultivate/buy ground cover evergreens that won't swamp out the convalaria....if such a thing exists!

  • Hi,

    I agree with the Astrantias. They flower for so long and the Thalictrum is so beautiful. Again, it lasts all summer and when you cut the flower sprays back for winter they provide a dried decoration that is worth having.

    For more flowers don't forget Alchemilla Mollis - green flowers - and seeds itself. Foxgloves also make a statement and will self seed. If the ground is moist Siberian Iris grow into big clumps with the flowers on very tall stems. Cephalaria (the giant yellow Scabious) has lots of blooms and I find the big Bumble Bees spend all night amongst the flower petals, asleep, I suppose. Does anyone know why they don't go home? Lythrum, Aruncus and Trollius are also good.

  • UpNorthUpNorth Posts: 376

    Thanks for the additional suggestions. i think my bed will attempt in the first instance to go with a fairly green/white palette in summer (albeit in spring it will be yellow mahonia+bluebells...not sure if that will work out, but i could remove the bluebells if they don't work).

    structure - fatsia, 2xmahonia, 2xV. Tinus ( branched up eventually) and maybe a Skimmia.  all of which i have 'in stock'.

    bluebells/daffs in spring to may. (already in).

    Then....convalaria/ferns ( from stock/ground elsewhere)

    with seeds/plants to buy....potentially astrantia, thalictrum, foxgloves, and if i improve the soil a lot, the Goats beard (Aruncus)

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