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Hi, what plants should I grow in a damp shaded area of my garden, I have a couple of hosta's which are doing great, but I'd like something for all year, it's awful looking in winter/spring at bareness, thanks


Ferns. cotoneasters, some early bulbs, a few of the clematis will do there - but it is never going to be the easiest of sites to grow well, espeially in the winter.  Some things grown in pots can be moved there for a while, then put beside the house, shed or hedge to recover.  There are some very good books about such areas, may be available from your local library?  Much depends upon which way it faces, and does it ever get any direct sunlight? 

Aw thanks for that, it never really gets any sunshine



Rhodies and  azaleas will tolerate it if you have the right soil, and also Pieris. vinca (periwinkle) is tough and evergreen and flowers early on- (purples and there's a white variety too)and heucheras are also good in shade. Many of the gold and green Carexes  are also great in those conditions. Lily of the valley will like those damp shady spots as will Pulmonaria (lungwort) London Pride will grow anywhere- I forget it's 'proper' name sorry, and as Booker mentioned - a lot of the early bulbs will be fine - primulas come in all sorts of colours and start early. Shrubs like Mahonia will take a lot of shade too.

I have a damp shady border in my garden -  snakes head fritillaries love it and they look stunning in Spring - also astilbe, primulas and hostas as mentioned in other suggestions and astrantia seems happy too....oh and a lovely bergenia, they are very happy in shade and really pretty both in foliage and little blue forget-me-not flowers.


Periwinkles of most kinds - vincas - are good ground cover. You can get some beautiful variegated ones whose leaves light up a dark space and the flowers are an added bonus. I'd also try wild strawberry - they spread and make good ground cover. And did anyone mention violets?

Another thought, this time for shrubs - hamamelis (witch hazel) is a lovely shrub with feathery yellow or orange fragrant flowers (look for a scented variety). And sarcacocca has a heavenly fragrance - will take deep shade. Flowers small and insignificant but what a scent!

I have exactly the conditions you describe and my hellebores are fantastic and have been in flower since before Christmas - through all the snow and cold and are still looking great. For summer I have Astillbies and though they grow very tall Japanese anemones do well. I've ordered snakes head fritilliarias for extra spring colour next year.


old fashioned I know but Tradescantia will privide cour in late summer, and like damp shade as do astilbes

Peat B

Hmmmmmmm. I have found that a shady spot is good for much of the previous suggestions, BUT I would also submit that it is a good place for a wee wildlife pond. It doesn't have to be a gurt big pond, only about a meter square, or round ! We have this in our front garden,  and it attracts a small colony of frogs, which say Bon Jour Meseurs/dames when we go out in the morning for breakfast on the front bench ! Around this 'water feature', we have potted plants, various shiftable flower pots and a hosta or two. 

Don't miss the opportunity to grow pretty much any varietof of Tricyrtis in this space. They are quite other worldly and very beautiful, despite their common name... Toad Lily!

My front garden is north facing, although not deep shade, and pretty moist most of the time.  I have put chaenomeles (Japanese quince) in, and it seems pretty happy.  I am also interested in trying a Japanese-style moss garden, maybe with sculptural elements of mossy rocks. 

Pulmonarias and brunneras will happily grow there.  Hellebores are a must

Have you thought of liriope?  Evergreen dark green grasslike foliage with purple blue spikes of flowers in autumn.  There are variegated forms and a new white variety....white FOLIAGE.  

A couple of box or similar rounded topiary shrubs would add shape.  A white hydangea would sit happily there.  White arum lily too.  Three yellow grasses..acorus Ogon (not really a grass but looks like one) is evergreen, Bowles golden grass is pure yellow loveliness and hackonochloa is superb albeit deciduous. 

There are loads of plants ...try geranium phaem.  In the summer plant a few busy lizzies to give a splash of colour all summer.  To keep the white theme use white new guinea types 

Silver surfer


Damp is the word that would makes me thing twice about cotoneasters, clematis and box

Chaenomeles flower far better in  in sun.

Lots of other good suggestions already mentioned would be fine.

Matteuccia struthiopteris will  love damp shade. Could take over.




What about a Chatham Island Forget - me - not (Myosotidium Hortensia).

Clump forming with robust dark green heart shaped leaves year round and dense sprays of tiny pale & dark blue flowers in summer. May need some winter protection but mine has done fine here in Cambridge pretty much left alone. I even managed to propagate some new plants last year from suckers forming on the mother plant.



Cotoneasters grow well here silversurfer-and trust me-it's damp!

Peat B

I 'liberated' a sort of feeder from a rubbish heap, and it is ideal for either putting in some water plants, amphibians, iris's.'s's's's's, carefully controlled mint, and rushes. I find amphibians seem to find their own way into the plot, without encouragement from myself or Vee, she who must be obeyed, the Bann an Chy. What will grow in the darker damp spots will grow, almost without buying in stuff. Neighbours are ALWAYS ready to share surplus to requirements plants. Most of our garden plants are surplus and find a ready place's like Battersea plant hme here, and we always get complimented on the garden. it has turned into the 'alternative' Alnwick Garden, without the admission price !


I have an area of damp shade and most of the above plants were suggested to me.  Primroses and pulmonaria grow very well.  I've also put in some "grannies bonnets" and foxgloves but will have to wait until next spring to see the results.  A good website is "Plants for Shade". 

Don't forget solomon's seal, erythroniums are lovely and enjoy damp woodland conditions.