Hardy geranium

Best summer shade plants

We pick our nine summer stars to grow in shade, including plants with beautiful flowers and foliage.

Having shady areas in the garden provides a wealth of opportunity to grow marvellous shade-loving plants for summer.


Plants with bright flowers are ideal, as they’re more visible in shade compared with darker blooms. Before you start planting, be sure to know which areas of your garden are in shade. Take a look at our feature on the types of garden shade to find out more.

Discover nine marvellous shade-loving plants for summer, below.

The Japanese painted fern, Athyrium niponicum unfurls each year to reveal intricately detailed fronds.


These summer shade stars come in a gorgeous array of colours, from white to deep purple-red. Astrantias enjoy moist soils in partial shade. Here are three tips for growing astrantias, plus 10 varieties of astrantia to grow.


Japanese painted fern

The Japanese painted fern, Athyrium niponicum unfurls each year to reveal intricately detailed fronds. If you’re after gorgeous summer foliage, here are 10 ferns to grow.



Also known as bellflowers, most campanulas are perfectly suited to a partially shaded position. This includes the small but vigorous Dalmatian bellflower, as well as the cottage-garden classics like the clustered bellflower.



This lofty, hardy biennial produces large, umbelliferous flowerheads, which are a real hit with pollinators. Damp soil is a must. You can also use the sweet stems and roots of Angelica archangelica as a natural sweetener.



Foxgloves (Digitalis) are quintessential shade plants. Tall stems make them ideal for growing at the back of a border. When the display is finished, it’s easy to collect and sow foxgloves, so you can welcome their beautiful blooms each year.


Himalayan maidenhair fern

With deeply-divided, feathery foliage, the maidenhair fern (Adiantum venustum) is a choice shade-loving plant for summer. Grow it in moist, well-drained soil, in partial shade.



Rodgersia podophylla is a great all-rounder. The foliage is large, architectural and dramatic, while the white flowers have a lovely fluffy texture to them. A great plant to grow in a bog garden.


Clematis x durandii

Need a climber for shade? Clematis x durandii is ideal for growing in partial shade. Don’t forget – clematis love their roots to be cool, so plant deeply and mulch generously. Here’s how to plant clematis.


Hardy geraniums

There are plenty of hardy geraniums you can grow in shade, including cultivars with lighter-coloured flowers, such as ‘Kashmir White’ (pictured) and ‘Stormchaser’.


If you’re looking for plants for winter shade, take a look at our feature on shade-loving plants for winter.