8 Easy Outdoor Plants That Don’t Need Sunshine: Top Expert Recommendations

Discover outdoor that thrive without sun and learn how to create a lush garden even in shady corners!

A lush garden even without sun

Having large, beautiful trees in our gardens is a real treat, but the shade they cast can be a problem for the growth of other plants and . If your yard or patio faces north or east, it may not get much sun either. If you struggle with a low light space, it is still possible to grow a garden, you just need to choose the right plants. To find out which plants grow best in shady areas, we consulted plant and experts. Keep reading to find out their recommendations for easy outdoor plants that don't need sun.

1. Impatiens: colorful flowers even in the shade

Impatiens are perhaps the most popular plants for shady areas. “They need very little sun to bloom successfully and spread quickly,” says Rebecca Sears, CMO and gardening specialist at Ferry-Morse. Impatiens produce bright, healthy blooms from early through fall without requiring much maintenance, making them a great choice for beginning gardeners. You'll find these flowers in shades of white, red, purple, pink, yellow and orange, adds Erinn Witz, gardening expert and co-founder of Seeds and Spades. Their bright colors make them a great option for a border around a tree or shrub.

2. Hostas: a must for shady gardens

“Virtually every gardener has at least a few hostas, and for good reason: they're lush and beautiful, and grow almost anywhere effortlessly,” says Witz. Ben Hilton, founder and editor of The Yard and Garden, also recommends this plant for shady gardens and adds that they “prefer moist, well-drained soil and benefit from regular watering.” Like impatiens, hostas are excellent border plants and can grow in groups. Witz prefers variegated varieties (their leaves are a mix of green, white and yellow) to add a touch of drama.

3. Astilbe: a touch of color

To add another splash of color to a shady garden, Hilton suggests astilbes (also known as goat's beards). “These perennials are known for their attractive feather-like plumes of pink, white or red that bloom in midsummer.” He recommends them for north-facing or moist gardens and notes that they prefer moist soil.

4. Ornamental sweet potato: beautiful vines for a spectacular effect

Contrary to its name, this plant does not produce sweet potatoes, but grows in long vines with hues ranging from yellow-green to dark purple-red. Sears explains that the ornamental sweet potato grows well in partially shaded areas and offers great flexibility for placement, “Its vines look great in hanging baskets, window boxes or climbing up a wall with a trellis.” This plant also likes heat and is drought resistant, making it great for beginners.

5. Bleeding hearts: a unique beauty for shady areas

For something truly unique, bleeding hearts are shade-loving perennials that do well in low-light areas, provided they have moist, well-drained soil, according to Hilton. Witz explains that bleeding hearts are native to shady forest environments, “so they thrive in these sheltered areas where many other flowers die back.” They get their name from their heart-shaped flowers that bloom in spring and come in shades of pink or white.

6. Ferns: varieties for all tastes

There are many varieties of ferns, but as Witz notes, “most thrive in moist, shady areas that mimic their natural forest habitat.” Hilton recommends some of the best ferns for shady gardens, such as hair ferns, sword ferns and female ferns. “Use them to fill difficult spaces in corners or under trees,” he adds.

7. Monard: a true pollinator magnet

Yes, monarda attracts , hummingbirds and , which is a good thing, as it will help pollinate your entire garden throughout the season. Monard is also a bright perennial that “blooms in partial shade and moist soil,” according to Sears. She notes that these flowers also look lovely in bouquets when cut.

8. Lungwort: a delicate touch for shady corners

Lungwort, also known as pulmonaria officinalis, grows naturally in the moist, shady environment of undergrowth, Hilton says, so it's well suited to a low-light garden. “They produce delicate bell-shaped flowers that can add a splash of color to a shady corner, and they have attractive mottled foliage that can bring interest to a shady garden even when not in bloom,” he adds.

Even if your garden lacks sunlight, it's possible to create a lush green space by choosing the right plants. Gardening experts recommend plants such as impatiens, hostas, astilbe, ornamental sweet potato, bleeding hearts, ferns, monarda and lungwort to add color, texture and life to your shady garden. So feel free to experiment with these plants and enjoy a beautiful, thriving garden even without much sun.

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