Lush foliage and delicate flowers of grass Hakonechloa macra

Foliage plants for damp shade

We pick some of the best plants with gorgeous foliage, to grow in damp, shady spots.

If you’re gardening in damp shade, the value of lush, dramatic foliage can’t be overstated.

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While many of the plants we’ve picked will also produce stunning flowers, they’ve been chosen for their gorgeous foliage. Dealing with dry shade? Take a look at our pick of stunning plants for dry shade.

More on shade-loving plants:

Discover beautiful lush foliage plants for damp shade to grow, below.

Synonymous with shade, ferns adore life in the cool moist soil under trees or in areas shielded from direct sunshine.

Hart’s tongue fern

Long, shiny leaves of hart's tongue fern, growing between rocks
Long, shiny leaves of hart’s tongue fern, growing between rocks

This beautiful fern is right at home in the cool, moist and shady conditions that woodlands provide. An evergreen UK native, it’s often found growing in lime-rich soils.


Asarum europaeum

Dark-green, round leaves of Asarum europaeum
Dark-green, round leaves of Asarum europaeum

A great little groundcover plant with glossy leaves, Asarum europaeum has distinctly rounded foliage and hairy, purple flowers in midsummer. Grow it in moist but well-drained soil.


Royal fern

Bright-green fronds of Osmunda regalis
Bright-green fronds of Osmunda regalis

Synonymous with shade, ferns adore life in the cool moist soil under trees or in areas shielded from direct sunshine. Deciduous Osmunda regalis loves a damp and free-draining soil.


Hostas

Heart-shaped hosta leaves
Heart-shaped hosta leaves

Hostas are indispensable in a shady garden. Many are variegated, their lush bright green leaves glinting from dark borders. Add mulch to keep the soil moist. Slugs can be a problem, so give the leaves some protection.


Rodgersia

Large, spiky edged leaves of Rodgersia podophylla
Large, spiky edged leaves of Rodgersia podophylla

Known for its large, attractive leaves, rodgersia also has cream flower plumes that turn a bronzy colour in autumn. Constantly moist conditions are ideal.


Colocasia esculenta

Huge leaves of the elephant's ears plant
Huge leaves of the elephant’s ears plant

Also known as elephant’s ears, Colocasia esculenta is a stunning exotic perennial, with huge, expansive leaves. Moist, partial shade is ideal. It grows from tubers and is frost tender, so will need the same winter treatment as dahlias.


Hakonechloa

Lush foliage and delicate flowers of grass Hakonechloa macra
Lush foliage and delicate flowers of grass Hakonechloa macra

This dense grass produces generous swathes of foliage. Grow hakonechloa in cool shade, in moist, rich soil. Here’s how you can use it as part of an exotic container display.


Carex

Wiry leaves and dark brown flowers of Carex dipsacea
Wiry leaves and dark brown flowers of Carex dipsacea

There are many carex species that will happily in damp shade, including Carex dipsacea (pictured), as well as Carex comans and Carex oshimensis.


Deschampsia

A froth of delicate flower-spikes of tufted hair grass Deschampsia cespitosa
A froth of delicate flower-spikes of tufted hair grass Deschampsia cespitosa

Deschampsia, or the tufted hair grass, grow to produce elegant mounds, which are topped by a speckled mass of flower spikes in mid-summer. Grow it in partial shade and moist soil.


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Looking for flowers for shade? Why not take a look at our feature on flowering plants for damp shade.