10 Most Resilient Plants for Heavy Shade

Is your yard starved for sun? Turn your backyard into a thriving oasis with these tried-and-true shade garden plants.

1 / 11

Tough Plants For Shade

All plants need a little TLC when getting established. Even those listed as shade plants or drought-tolerant plants benefit from supplemental watering when rainfall is lacking. This is especially true when plants are young. But once they get going, these tough plants can handle challenging growing conditions with minimal help. Include these 10 resilient plants in your garden plans if you have especially shady areas.

2 / 11
Coleus Shade Garden Plants
Predrag Lukic/Shutterstock


Make room in your garden for fast-growing, trouble-free coleus. It tolerates part shade. Gardeners are constantly battling shady spots in backyards, always on lookout for pretty shade annuals. Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to find something with color to add that much-needed pizzazz to shady areas. Coleus is it. A lot of people think coleus is a shade lover. It will survive in the shade, yes. But for best results and more intense color, it benefits from a little morning sun.

3 / 11
Blooming Begonia tuberhybrida close up


Begonias are the champs of container shade gardening. Though they’re usually grown outdoors as annuals, these are actually perennials when protected from frost and freezes. Bring your containers indoors in the winter and grow these for years! The reds, pinks and whites of yesteryear are being supplemented with brilliant yellows and oranges in today’s market. Try the Surefire series for easy-care blooms all season.

4 / 11
Potted Pansies
Olga Miltsova/Shutterstock


Is there a more cheerful flower than the garden pansy? With their big bold faces, brilliant colors ranging from bright yellow to deep purple, with new varieties that even include splashes of pink, these flowers are a favorite in most cool-season gardens. Pansies like the cold, and can actually handle light freezes and even some snow.

They dislike hot, muggy weather and will quickly rot when the heat of a southern summer sets in. They love full sun but can take shade, and require regular water to flower their best. Here are the best shade perennials that won’t take over your garden.

5 / 11
I love Photo and Apple./Getty Images


Often called Wishbone Flower, torenia has been becoming more popular in recent years as gardeners realize its value for shade gardening. Once found mainly in blue and pink, torenia is now available in yellow, orange, and multi-colored blooms too. Torenia doesn’t tolerate being dry, so plan to give it plenty of water during the hot months.

6 / 11
Elizabeth Fernandez/Getty Images


Iresine or Alternanthera is a tropical perennial with showy green foliage that is irregularly splashed with white and pink. This plant thrives in partial shade or sun and is great as a ground cover. The leaf coloring of iresine can vary immensely depending on light, with brightest color generally in full sun. This plant also looks beautiful spilling out of pots or baskets.

7 / 11
Bleeding heart flower
Terje Håheim/Getty Images

Bleeding Heart

Try a fringed bleeding heart, like burning hearts. The delicate foliage and heart-shaped blooms make this one a captivating spring shade favorite. Just know that it’s an early bloomer, but fringed bleeding hearts hold their leaves and flower sporadically through summer. Bleeding heart is self-seeding. Wait to cut it back, and you’ll see a spectacular show of blooms the next year.

8 / 11
Heuchera Coral Bells
Michael Roberts/Getty Images

Coral Bells

Colorful foliage and spires of small blooms make coral bells a must for every shady yard. The pretty blossoms emerge in late spring and last through early summer on eight- to 10-inch stems. Then the foliage steals the show, often changing colors in fall. You’ll never get bored with coral bells — the leaves come in a rainbow of colors from yellow-orange to deep purple.

9 / 11


No “best of” shade list would be complete without hostas. This hardy plant is known for adding texture and color. While some hostas tolerate sun, those grown in partial shade usually produce the best-looking and longest-lasting leaves. Dense, leafy clumps make way for stems of blossoms that rise up to three feet above the prized foliage. There are so many varieties on the market chances are one or several will fit your garden.

10 / 11


Daylilies are so common that they’re often overlooked. Growing daylilies is easy and rewarding. Growing daylilies is a low-maintenance gig, but they do need to be divided every few years. Daylilies spread by budding new small plants next to the main one.

Over time, they’ll become crowded and produce fewer flowers. In late summer, dig up the whole clump and use a shovel to split into smaller chunks. Spread them out and replant, or share extras with friends and neighbors.

11 / 11
green ferns for pest control
Dory F/shutterstock


A fern like the Japanese painted fern is small, well-behaved and a graceful addition to shade garden plants. It won’t grow too big or too rambunctious. Instead, it beckons you to take a closer inspection of its multicolored foliage, which is an attractive mix of green, silver and maroon. It grows two to three feet tall and wide.