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Will anything grow in full shade?



I have a bit down the bottom of the garden, its very shaded with trees and very little light gets through.  I thought it would be a good idea to make this a rhubarb patch, and at the start of the year (around April when there was less foliage over the trees) we did get a decent harvest.

Since then I've planted more BUT it's not exactly thriving.  I had mistaken "forcing" rhubarb with the fact they don't need any light - I don't think this is true!


Is there anything else that will grow without a lot of light?  I know that sounds a dumb question but I'm looking more for people's practical real-world experience rather than the books where most things need "full sun" image







  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,009

    First of all, can you remove a few of the lwoer branches of teh trrees to allow in more light and, more impirtantly, more rain as the ground will get very dry under trees.

    Then have a look at forms of brunnera, lily of the valley, geranium macrorhizum, pachysandra, ferns such as Polystichum setiferum and the dryopteris group, pulmonarias and vinca minor, especially the alba form with white flowers that will show up.   bees will love teh geranium, lily of the valley and pulmonarias.

    Variegated ivies can also be used as ground cover in full shade but will, when settled, head up thetrees to teh light as they mature.  They do make excellen hosts anf food for insects when they are mature.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 14,960

    If they are deciduous trees you will get light in spring so an ideal situation for many spring bulbs.

    Many ferns will do well [ Dryopteris species ]. Under the shade of 2 large beech trees I grow: Euphorbia amygdaloides, Hellebores, Millium effusum aureum [ pretty yellow grass ], hostas, geranium [ not all types will thrive ], astrantias, primula, woodruff and there are many more.

    Shade is often thought of as a gardeners nightmare but, it is really not and you can have beautiful shade gardens.

    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    You can also grow tradescantia and I have just put in dicentra, both alba and the common one.

    For lighter shade you could try astrantia.

  • DMGDMG Posts: 11

    Thanks; I'll sort out some of the smaller trees that I can do something with, and maybe that will let a little more light in.

    Any chance of any veg growing in there or should I not waste my time?!

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,417

    I'd do a few experiments when you've raised the canopy. There are tree roots to consider as well. Try a few of all sorts of things and see how they go.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    I have just bought Heuchera Key Lime Pie, with instructions to plant it in shade. Also Corydalis, will self seed and give you little yellow flowers for months. Wild garlic and foxgloves; in fact anything that grows in a wood - bluebells. As Nutc says, when you've raised the canopy you could try veg possibly sorrel; but don't get French sorrel it spreads like wildfire.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,009

    Veggies like full sun to grow and ripen.   You could try herbs such as parsley and sweet cicely and chervil.  Lettuce like partial shade so coul dbe worth a try and redcurrants might do OK in the lighter spots but not in full shade.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • NickyBNickyB Posts: 69

    We have Pulmonaria (sp?) growing like wildfire in complete shade. Also, bracken/ferns, a holly bush and a hardy geranium. 

  • Maximus2Maximus2 Posts: 7

    I have a weigelia growing in the shade of a tall crab apple tree. It forms a nice fan shape and covers the fence, and also has the benefit of pink flowers in summer. However, it does lose its leaves, so bare branches in winter.

    However, I am not sure if they will grow in total shade. The plant often gets some late evening sunshine (e.g. from 6-9pm) and that may just be enough to encourage decent growth/flowering. 

  • Pauls3Pauls3 Posts: 2

    Try wild garlic.

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