Government of New Brunswick

In almost any garden there is a need to choose some plants that will grow well in the shade. The intensity of shade varies as well as the plants that can tolerate it. Deep shade exists on the north side of the house or under a dense canopy of trees. Medium shade exists where buildings or trees interrupt sunlight for a part of the day. Light shade occurs where the light is filtered through the leaves of trees.

In shade plantings there is not usually an abundance of strong flower colors. Annuals that grow well in the shade such as impatiens, begonias and coleus add color to an otherwise dull area.


  • Anemone spp. (30-90cm) develop bright colored red, pink, white or purple flowers from August to October.
  • Ajuga genevensis (Bugleweed)(30cm) is a useful border plant usually with blue flowers. There are many cultivars available.
  • Cimcifuga spp. (Bugbane) (200cm) Long creamy white racemes of flowers from Aug. to the fall are found on these attractive specimen plants.
  • Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley) (15-30 cm). Fragrant, waxy bell-like flowers are produced from mid-May to mid-June.
  • Dicentra spp. (Bleeding Heart) (30-60cm). Colorful heart-shaped flowers are in bloom from May to June.
  • Digitalis spp. (Foxglove) (lm) Handsome, tall plants with bell shaped flowers in many colours that appear in summer.
  • Hemerocallis spp. (Daylily) (60-120 cm). There are many elegant colors available of this plant; bloom time and length of bloom varies with the species.
  • Hosta spp. (Plantain Lilies)(50-100 cm). These plants prefer a rich soil, they bear lily-like flowers on spikes and are grown for their attractive foliage.
  • Myosotis spp. (Forget-me-nots) (30-45 cm) have dainty blue or pink flowers in July and August.
  • Primula spp. (Primrose) (15-30 cm) produce vivid flowers of almost every color are well adapted to massed plantings.
  • Pulmonaria spp. (Lungwort). Funnel shaped flowers in blue and purple shades develop on this plant in early spring.
  • Viola spp. (Violets) (10-20 cm) flowers are available in a variety of colors from blue to white; plant prefers moist well drained soil.


  • Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill) zone 4 (15 cm) are early blooming, hardy bulbs, with azure-blue flowers.
  • Narcissus sp. (Daffodils) zone 4 (8-45 cm) have various colors and flower sizes which grow well under the shade of a large tree.
  • Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily) zone 4 (1.2-1.8 m) are vigorous garden lilies that have orange flowers with dark spots.


  • Ferns - maidenhair fern, ladyfern, leatherwood fern. Ferns are excellent for deep shade and require a rich, peaty soil.
  • Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese Spurge) zone 5 (30 cm). These attractive groundcovers have excellent foliage and some have fall berries.
  • Symphoricarpos spp. (Coralberry) zone 4 (.6 m) is an evergreen groundcover with bright pink berries in the fall.
  • Vinca minor (periwinkle) zone 4. Dark lustrous leaves and lilac blue flowers are produced in late April on this plant.


  • Celastrus scandens (Bittersweet) zone 2-4 requires male and female vines to produce attractive red fruit in the fall.
  • Euonymus fortunei vegeta (Wintercreeper) zone 5 These evergreen vines produce many colourful fruit.
  • Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper) zone 3 produces small blue berries and has brilliant fall foliage.