Container ideas for shade

Four container ideas for shade

These colourful container projects are perfect for shady spots in the garden.

A colourfully-planted container or two can be all it takes to give a shady area a lift. And you don’t need to stick to convention and grow in a standard terracotta pot. Be adventurous and create a truly unique display that will last for many months. These four container displays use green, silver and lime-coloured ferns, begonias, black grass and lush hostas.


When creating container displays it’s important to consider the colour and style of the container and check that it will suit the plants you’ll be growing in it. Also make sure it has drainage holes to avoid waterlogging – these can be drilled in if missing.

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Discover four great container ideas for shady spots.

Hosta, golden grass and astilbe

Shade-loving container planted with Hosta 'Wide Brim', Astilbe simplicifolia 'Sprite' and Millium effusum 'Aureum'

We used a large galvanised bucket to plant up this container display. The hosta will flower from early to midsummer, while the astilbe will take over from mid- to late summer. The colourful foliage will bridge any gaps of interest during the growing season.

We used: yellow-edged Hosta ‘Wide Brim’, Astilbe simplicifolia ‘Sprite’ and Milium effusum ‘Aureum’ with a slate chippings mulch.

Asplenium, hosta, dichondra and ophiopogon

Container with Hosta 'Praying Hands' and Asplenium scolopendrium 'Cristatum Group' and Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' and Dichondra 'Silver Falls'

This long faux lead planter can be displayed on walls, windowsills or at the junction between walls and the floor. The upright hosta adds height, while the asplenium, ophiopogon and dichondra contrast with each other and soften the edges of the container.

We used: Hosta ‘Praying Hands’Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Cristatum Group’ and Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’.

Heuchera and carex

Container for shade with heucheras and carex

This upcycled wooden container complements the warm tones of the carex. Spikes bearing many starry flowers from the heuchera and heucherella will boost interest in late spring and early summer – deadhead these as they go over to prolong the display.

We used: Heuchera ‘Cappuccino’, Heucherella ‘Gold Strike’ and Carex comans ‘Bronze Form’.

Polystichum, asplenium and cyclamen

Container for shade planted up with ferns and cyclamen

Filled to the brim with ferns and cyclamens, this container is perfect for softening the hard features of a shady courtyard. Ivy-leaved cyclamen provide flowers for autumn interest, while the evergreen ferns ensure a lush display year round.


We used: Asplenium scolopendrium, Polystichum setiferum, Cyclamen hederifolium.\

Retaining moisture

Pots and containers can dry out quickly, especially in hot weather. When planting, you can take steps to aid water retention by incorporating plenty of organic matter, like leaf mould. This will suit many shade-loving plants that are themselves woodland plants. You could also try incorporating water-retaining granules into the compost, that store water when wetted.

Watering can