Cornus mas

Plants for an east-facing border

We pick some of the best plants to grow in the partially-shaded conditions of an east-facing border.

An east-facing border presents a great opportunity to grow plants that will relish this cool, partially shaded area.

When planning your border, consider the mature size of the plants you're growing. Plant larger shrubs and trees at the back, to provide a foil for smaller shrubs and perennials planted at the front.

If you need to cover and east-facing boundary, such as a wall or fence, we have you covered, with our recommended climbers for east-facing walls.

Starting a new border? Watch this quick video on how to prepare a border for planting

Discover some the best plants for an east-facing border, below. 

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Hakonechloa macra

This bushy grass is ideal for plugging gaps in borders, or planting underneath trees and shrubs for ground cover. Hakonechloa macra has bright green foliage, but you could also grow cultivars with variegated foliage, such as 'Aureola' (pictured).

Anemones

Anemone is the common name for a number of shade-loving species, including rue anemones (Anemonella thalictroides) and wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa). Most are low-growing – perfect for planting at the front of borders, or as ground cover plants.

Nicotiana

Nicotianas enjoy a bit of afternoon shade when the sun is at its hottest, so are well-suited to an east-facing border. Enjoy their heady fragrance, which is released in the evenings. Here are more plants with evening scent to grow. 

Meconopsis

Meconopsis, or Himalayan poppy, are one of the few plants to produce true blue flowers. For best results, grow them in a moist, acidic soil. Cultivars to grow include 'Sichuan Silk' and 'Marit'.

Clematis alpina

Most clematis perform best in a spot with full sun, but there are types that will grow well in partial shade. Clematis alpina (pictured) has attractive, feathery leaves and elegant, indigo flowers. Other clematis you could grow in an east-facing border include Clematis montana and Clematis spooneri

Fatsia

Fatsias have large, glossy leaves that lend themselves to exotic or jungle-style borders. Reaching 3m tall, they can be planted towards the back of borders to provide a green backdrop for other plants.

Viburnums

Many viburnums can be grown in partial shade, including the native guelder rose, Viburnum opulus, and other species like Viburnum tinus and Viburnum plicatum. Those with white-flowers will show up especially well in the afternoon shade.

Berberis

Barberries (Berberis) are robust shrubs, many of which provide gorgeous autumn colour in the form of berries and foliage – try growing Berberis thunbergii for this. For evergreen colour, check out Berberis x lologensis. Discover more shrubs for autumn colour

Yew

This native, versatile evergreen can be grown in anything from full sun to full shade. Grow yew as hedging around borders, or dot amongst other plants in the form of topiary shapes. Here's how to plant a yew hedge.

Cornus

Many dogwoods (Cornus) will relish growing in an east-facing border. For larger borders, try Cornus mas (pictured) for winter flowers, which will grow to the size of a small tree.
Many dogwoods (Cornus) will relish growing in an east-facing border.

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Hand fork and trowel

Planting in dry shade

East-facing borders at the foot of walls or under house eaves may be dry as well as shady. Improve the soil before planting by digging in organic matter such as leaf mould or garden compost, to make the soil more moisture-retentive.

Discover more ideas and inspiration

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