Gardening in Deep Shade

by Brooke Tolman
(last updated March 18, 2015)

Deep shade often occurs beneath trees such as evergreens or narrow spaces in between tall buildings and can be a challenging spot to garden in. Soil beneath evergreens is usually poor due to the lack of an annual leaf fall which in deciduous forests provides layers of organic mulch. Plants selected for deep shade gardens need to be shade demanding not just shade tolerant. When deciding to garden in the shade it's most important to remember that many plants can survive in the shade but not all of them thrive in the shade. When planting in deep shade, beneath the canopy of evergreens, amending the soil by adding compost will increase nutrients and water retention in the soil. Before you begin planting, look up to see if there are any branches which could pruned to allow dappled sunlight into the garden. Though there are many wonderful shade loving plants available, it's often recommended to selectively prune the surrounding trees to allow at least some sun into the space.

Many plants which thrive in the shade have developed large leaves and interesting foliage as a way for the plant to capture as much sunlight as possible. Hosta is a great example of this. In the summer the foliage of shade plants often becomes the focal point of the garden. Try to choose a few plants with multicolored foliage to add splashes of brightness and the illusion of light among the sea of green. Use different shades of green throughout the garden as well. Bright yellow greens illuminate a shady space and deeper blue greens create a feeling of depth, making a space feel larger than it is. Remember, colors appear different in the shade. In full sun colors can seem washed out, in the shade they are vibrant and more intense. Try to unify the garden by repeating patterns of color, textures and form. 

While there are few annuals and grasses which will do well in shady conditions, there a number of shrubs, perennials, ferns and bulbs which provide virtually unlimited planting opportunities. Ferns, lily-of-the-valley, western bleeding hearts, and primroses are all examples of plants that flourish in the shade. Give shade plants a fighting chance even in dry areas by ensuring that they're not too small and fragile when you plant them. If necessary, grow the plants in easier areas first and allow them to mature; once they have healthy foliage and a decent root ball, transplant them to the drier area, and water well until they are re-established.

Author Bio

Brooke Tolman

Brooke is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Exercise Science. She currently resides in Seattle where she works as a freelance data analyst and personal trainer. She hopes to spend her life camping and traveling the world. ...

MORE FROM BROOKE

What are Cuttings?

If you're wanting more plants in your house or garden, but don't want to spend the money then you might want to look into ...

Discover More

What is Arabica Coffee?

As you are drinking your morning cup of coffee, do you ever pause to wonder where those coffee beans came from? Arabica ...

Discover More

Self Storage Units

Sometimes your house or apartment just isn't big enough to hold everything you need it to hold. Self storage units are a ...

Discover More
MORE GARDENING TIPS

Transplanting Large Plants

A garden full of vegetables can be fun and healthy way to stretch your food dollars. It doesn't matter if you are starting ...

Discover More

Creating a Home Nursery

There are all kinds of business opportunities out there simply waiting for the right person to come along, and jump at it. ...

Discover More

When to Use Cuttings

Plant cuttings are useful in many situations. You can use them for everything from saving money to trying to save a diseased ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

Comments for this tip:

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is three minus 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Videos

Subscribe to the Tips.Net channel:

Visit the Tips.Net channel on YouTube

Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

Links and Sharing
  • Ask a Question
  • Make a Comment
  • Free Printable Forms
  • Free Calendars
  • Share