Design

Colorful Plants for Partial Shade

Fine Gardening – Issue 198
Photo: Paul Zammit

If you need some ideas for plants that thrive in dappled sunlight, check out these options from expert gardener Mary Gore. She has created an amazing garden in the shade with these plants playing key roles. Click here to see her garden.

 

1. ‘High Noon’ tree peony

High Noon tree peony
Photo: Carol Collins

Name: Paeonia suffruticosa ‘High Noon’

Zones: 4–8

Size: 4 to 5 feet tall and wide

Native range: China

Golden yellow blooms with subtle red flares embellish a mass of medium-green foliage that looks great even after the flowers finish.

 

2. ‘Miranda’ climbing hydrangea

Miranda climbing hydrangea
Photo: Steve Aitken

Name: Hydrangea petiolaris ‘Miranda’

Zones: 4–8

Size: Up to 60 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide

Native range: Japan, Korea, China

With dark green leaves edged in flashy gold, this plant is perfect for adding an eye-catching vertical element in partial to full shade.

 

3. ‘June’ hosta

June hosta
Photo: Michelle Gervais

Name: Hosta ‘June’

Zones: 3–8

Size: 16 inches tall and 2 to 3 feet wide

Native range: Hybrid of Asian species

Lovely blue leaves with brushstrokes of chartreuse and yellow add an artistic element to any shady bed.

 

4. Abyssinian banana

Abyssinian banana
Photo: Paul Zammit

Name: Ensete ventricosum

Zones: 10–11

Size: 8 to 10 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide

Native range: Eastern Africa

Also called red banana, this tropical delight adds lots of drama and warm color wherever it is planted.

 

5. Sedona Sunset™ coleus

Sedona Sunset coleus
Photo: Michelle Gervais

Name: Plectranthus scutellarioides cv.

Zones: 10–12

Size: 1 to 3 feet tall and wide

Native range: Hybrid

The rusty orange color of this coleus is an excellent accent for red-leaved Japanese maples. Used as an annual, it provides bursts of reliable, long-lasting color at ground level.

 

6. ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass

Aureola Japanese forest grass
Photo: Kathryn Geruntho Frank

Name: Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

Zones: 5–9

Size: 12 to 18 inches tall and wide

Native range: Central Japan

Brilliant color makes this lovely grass stand out from a distance, and in autumn its yellow-striped leaves take on tints of pink and orange.

 

7. Shirazz™ Japanese maple

Shirazz Japanese maple
Photo: Paul Zammit

Name: Acer palmatum ‘Gwen’s Rose Delight’

Zones: 5–8

Size: 10 to 15 feet tall and wide

Native range: Japan, Korea, China

The leaves of this variegated Japanese maple emerge crimson-pink, then age to a charming mix of pink, green, and white. Even after its scarlet fall foliage drops, its arching branches add elegance to the winter garden.


Mary Gore is an accountant who gardens in The Beaches neighborhood of Toronto.

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