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Best New Garden Plants: Perennials for Shade

Best New Garden Plants

If you're stumped on what to grow in your shade garden, you don't have to settle for the same old hostas or impatiens. These new varieties are a great way to spice up borders that don't get much sun. Looking to add color to a shady area of your garden? Some perennial flowers thrive in areas with little sunlight and come back every year. Astilbes are easy perennials to grow and open their filamentous flowers in partial shade. They will grow even in full shade, although you won't get as many flowers.

Hostas are a good choice for shady spots. Some may take more sun than others, depending on how much sunlight your garden actually gets, but most are happy in morning sun and afternoon shade. Available in green, blue, cream, yellow, gold and white, they require little care and add color to beds and borders.

Remember that even plants labeled for full shade need some sun. Usually, they do best with no more than three or four hours of sun each day and filtered sun throughout the day.

1. ‘Table Mountain’ hellebore (Helleborus hybrid)

You may have some "Wow!" A powerhouse for shade, this golden-leaved hellebore is an excellent choice. Foliage emerges green with golden accents in spring and matures to solid gold with purple petioles. Flowers are rose purple in early spring, fade to dusty rose and last for weeks.

The species is perennial

Best features are rosy purple flowers in early spring and golden foliage

Light area to full shade

The soil is well drained

Size 8 to 10 inches high, 12 to 14 inches wide

Hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9

2. ‘Snowtime’ bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia)

Instead of the pink blooms typical of periwinkles, 'Snowtime' bears white blooms in early spring and again in fall on 18-inch-tall stems. Glossy cabbage-like leaves make a great contrast to the fine-textured plants in the border.

The species is perennial

Flowers are clear white flowers in spring and again in autumn

Light full sun to part shade

The soil is moist and well drained

Size 18 inches tall

Hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8

3. Stegosaurus Holly Fern (Syrdomium fortunei)

If you want a bold texture for your shade garden, Stegosaurus holly fern is a great choice. Up to 24 inches tall, its lush hollylike foliage makes a big statement in containers or garden beds.

The species is perennial

Evergreen large glossy green leaves

Light full to part shade

Soil is moist, well drained

Size 18 to 24 inches high, 18 inches wide

Hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9

4. ‘Goatee’ goat’s beard (Aruncus hybrid)

Create a pop of color in your shade garden with the super-floriferous (more than other varieties) 'Goat' Goat's Beard. The plants will grow in full sun, but will need frequent watering to stay beautiful.

The species is perennial

Creamy white flowers bloom in early summer

Light Full sun to full shade

The soil is moist and well drained

Size 24 to 26 inches high, 26 to 28 inches wide

5. ‘Mr. Mister’ hosta (Hosta hybrid)

If you like variety, this hosta with stripes and spots is for you - each leaf has a slightly different texture! White blooms up to 48 inches tall in summer. Part shade with protection from afternoon sun produces excellent green color.

The species is perennial

The green leaves are lightly streaked and spotted

Light area shadow

Soil is moist, well drained

Size 28 inches high, 42 inches wide

Hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9

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