By Mark Saidnawey, Pemberton Garden Services

BOSTON (CBS) — For many of us urban gardeners, the shady areas of our garden are often the most challenging.

For many of my customers that shop with me at Pemberton Farms they are always asking what is new and different for shade and how do I add color to those dark areas of my garden. Fortunately for them, many nurseries are now stocking a larger selection of shady plants and growers are adding new varieties each year.

Unfortunately, shade-tolerant plants are in many cases not very colorful in flower, but often there is consolation in attractive or interesting foliage.

Plants for shade gather what light there is by large leaves which are rich in chlorophyll and therefore often very green. Variegated plants are less successful in shade than in sun as they lack chlorophyll.

Some tips on Shade Gardening:

Knowing the amount of shade you have is extremely important in determining which varieties of plants will thrive in your garden. Many plants that require part to full sun will work in light or partial shade. It is often a trial and error method to see what works where but if you can determine the amount of shade you have it will help you when you go to choose your plants. When customers come to our garden center and ask for assistance in selecting plants it is the first question we ask.

To grow healthy plants in shady areas, it is important to identify the degree of shade that a plant needs or will tolerate. Few shrubs will thrive where shade is very dense, particularly when coupled with a dry impoverished soil. Additional organic matter and a general fertilizer will provide more suitable conditions for plants to grow.

Light shade: A site that is open to the sky, but screened from direct sunlight by an obstacle, such as a high wall or group of trees.

Partial shade: A site receiving sunlight for two or three hours either in early morning or late evening. Midday sun supplies considerably more light.

Moderate shade: Mainly reflected or diffused light, for example through tree canopies.

Deep shade: Usually under dense deciduous trees, e.g. beech, conifer hedges or overgrown shrubberies.

Here is a list of some the most popular Annuals and Perennials for the shade:














Polygonatum (Solomon Seal)

Heuchera (Coral Bells)


Vinca Minor

Lamium (Dead Nettle)

Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)


Brunnera “Jack Frost”

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