Most gardens will have areas that get sun for only part of the day – between three and six hours in summer. Where these spots are in your garden depends on the type of garden shade you have, or its aspect.
We’ve picked beautiful plants for shade that can cope with both full sun and shade at different times. To help avoid leaf scorch, aim to site these plants in areas that get morning sun and afternoon or midday shade. That way, they’re protected from the hottest, brightest rays.
However, this isn’t essential for all plants suited to partial shade. For example, camellia flower buds can be damaged by morning sunlight after frosts.
Discover six beautiful plants that will thrive in partial shade, below.
This showy form of lady’s slipper orchid is relatively easy to grow in cultivation. Broad strappy leaves in summer, with yellow and purple blooms in June and July. North-facing gardens are ideal, as they’ll largely receive cooler, morning sun while being shaded from the hottest midday sun. You could also try other cultivars – ‘Pueblo’ has lovely buttery-yellow flowers, while ‘Siggi’ has burgundy-red blooms.
H × S 30cm × 25cm.
Polygonatum x hybridum
Polygonatum x hybridum, or common Solomon’s seal, has green-tipped flowers that hang from arching stems and lush, green foliage. The flowers are often followed by black, berry-like fruits and butter-yellow autumn foliage. You could also try attractive red-stemmed varieties such as Polygonatum odoratum ‘Red Stem’.
Flowers May to June.
H × S 110cm × 30cm.
Geranium phaeum ‘Album’
Geranium phaeum ‘Album’ is one of the best hardy geraniums for shade and it has attractive foliage, too. Its pure-white blooms will show up well in shady spots. Other geraniums with bright blooms to try include ‘Stormchaser’ and Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Spessart’.
Flowers May to June.
H × S 60cm × 80cm.
A dense, clump-forming perennial that dies down to rhizomes in winter, Roscoea humeana has upright, strap-shaped leaves, topped by large, purple orchid-like flowers in early summer. Best planted in a spot where it’ll be shaded from the hottest sun, as this can bleach the blooms.
Flowers June to July.
H × S 30cm × 40cm.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’
This elegant perennial, also known as bleeding heart, produces arching sprays of enchanting early flowers that will light up gloomy spots. Its delicate filigreed foliage lasts until midsummer. This cultivar can also be used to create an acer, bleeding heart and tiarella container display.
Flowers April to May.
H × S 75cm × 75cm.
Evergreen in all but the coldest winters, this rounded shrub produces masses of brilliant flowers at the tips of the branches in late winter. Grows well next to a wall or hedge. You can easily layer rhododendrons, should you want to propagate them for more plants.
Flowers February to March.
H × S 120cm × 90cm.
Dealing with lighter or darker areas? Try our pick of plants that will thrive in dappled shade and full shade.
More plants for partial shade