We all want a beautiful home with lots of sunny yard space for planting. A well-tended yard with lots of healthy, happy plants makes your home a more pleasant place to be and adds curb appeal. The trouble is, many of us have small yards or yards without much sunlight and a lot of shady areas.
When your home isn’t right for sun-loving vegetation that you can plant in the ground, you need to look to shade plants for pots. There are lots of plants that thrive in the shade and do well in containers, so you can still pretty up your home, even when space is limited.
In this guide, we look at easy-care shade plants that are perfect for container gardens. We take a look at the container ideas, the best plants for hot weather, and those that are happiest in the cold.
And, we provide care and gardening tips to make sure that you keep your yard looking tip-top. With our guide and a little motivation, your yard will be a treat to behold!
When Should I Plant Container Plants for Shade?
Because you’ll be keeping your plants in pots and don’t need to dig in the ground, frost won’t usually be a concern. However, make sure that the plant you’re working with can tolerate cold overnight temperatures before putting them in spots in the yard. If you’re planting vegetables for shade, be extra careful about avoiding frost in the early spring.
You may be concerned about whether your plant can tolerate your region’s cold weather. Take advantage of the fact that it’s still in a pot and keep it indoors. Once you’re satisfied that there’s no chance of damaging the evergreen container plants, place them in their final locations. Make sure to check your local agriculture office for specific local planting information.
How Do I Care for Shade Flowers for Pots?
The beauty of the plants on this list is that most of them require little care and maintenance after you establish them. Make sure that the shade tolerant plants you choose are protected from the harsh rays of the sun and have enough water, and you’re halfway there. Occasionally check to make sure that the plants aren’t outgrowing their containers, too. You may need to repot them or divide them every so often.
Some cascading plants deplete their soil nutrients and require regular fertilization, so use a balanced fertilizer to maintain soil fertility. To aid with this, add three to six inches of fresh mulch every year to return lost nutrients to the potting soil.
If you have a problem with squirrels, chipmunks or other creatures that like to get into your garden and flower containers, there are several home remedies you can use to deter them. Keep squirrels out of potted plants by sprinkling human or dog hair on the soil. Rodents will steer clear.
How Should I Arrange My Shade Plants for Pots?
Many people enjoy creating a somewhat random display of plants, mixing colors, heights, and foliage types into an intense rush of vibrant color and scent. The beauty of this approach is the novelty each day brings. Depending on weather conditions and other factors, a random display will never look the same two days in a row.
The other arrangement method for shade loving plants is to carefully plan out the display and place each plant where it will complement and contrast the others. You can create a large, yard-sized sculpture of green foliage and brilliant flowers.
If you opt for the planned route, try to create variety in your arrangement by placing plants with different foliage alongside each other to build a textured landscape. Green or golden plants do very well on corners; they create lines and define the garden shape.
Low Maintenance Shade Plants for Pots
While the plants on our list are ideal in pots, note that you can grow most of them in shady areas of your yard, too. In addition, there are many shrubs for shade that you can place in pots or the garden to add a little something extra to your home in the way of greenery.
New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri) – Beautiful Shade Plant
For a long-blooming plant with lovely pink blossoms, you won’t find a better plant than the New Guinea impatiens. These plants are low maintenance and give you a high return on your investment with gorgeous, nectar-filled blossoms that bring all the butterflies to your yard.
The New Guinea impatiens is happiest in the sun, but it will handle partial shade with no issues. It’s a healthy plant and is drought and pest-resistant, and it isn’t susceptible to most diseases. You won’t need to coddle this plant, but you should make sure that it has enough water and soil nutrients.
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
English ivy grows wild all over Europe and North America. This woodland vine is sturdy and is as comfortable in the dark woods as it is in your shaded lawn, and it’s one of the best bathroom plants that absorb moisture. You won’t have to do much to maintain this plant, either, as all it needs is enough water and not too much sun.
As befits a forest plant, the English ivy is a full shade hog. Sun exposure should be filtered to prevent damage to the plant, and keep your English ivy well watered to avoid injury. Apply a liquid fertilizer every month to keep your ivy in top condition.
Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) – Gorgeous Container Plant
You’ll find asparagus ferns in hanging baskets on patios and decks everywhere. This attractive plant is a great candidate for potting, thanks to its compact root system and low maintenance profile. A lily family member and not a fern, the asparagus fern brings a touch of elegance and grace to any home.
Asparagus ferns are warm weather plants, so bring them indoors during the winter if you experience cold weather. Keep your asparagus plant well watered and fertilized. And, every couple of years, re-pot the plant to allow it to grow unimpeded.
Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas)
The ornamental sweet potato vine is different than its more-famous Southern cousin, the sweet potato vegetable plant. It is one of these easy vegetables to grow in pots. While you can harvest the edible sweet potato vine tubers, they are bitter and not very good to eat. However, the sweet potato vine, with its dark purple and green leaves, is a spectacular addition to any container gardening project.
Use a stem cutting to plant a new sweet potato vine. The sweet potato vine grows faster in full sun, so place it in a spot that generates growth with which you’re comfortable.
Tuberous Begonias (Begonia) – Plant for Shade
Tuberous begonias are compact little plants that fit into any nook or cranny, and they’re a great choice to spruce up your garden. Happy in part shade, the tuberous begonia is right at home under your patio roof and will give you years of pleasure.
The tuberous begonia is frost-sensitive, so keep it indoors until you are satisfied that the last frost of the season has passed. When you plant your begonias, place the cut tubers about an inch apart in a shallow tray filled with a sand-and-potting-soil mixture.
Water them, and keep in a dark place until the shoots are an inch or so long. Then, transfer the sprouts to their permanent pot and place the container in the garden.
Coral Bells (Heuchera)
Also known as Alumroot, Coral Bells is an eye-catching plant with leaves that come in all sorts of color combinations. Reds, greens, purples, greens – Coral Bells has them all. These tiny, attractive flowers with beautiful leaves have graced many a Japanese garden and they make great shade flowers for pots, too.
Mix Coral Bells with some other shade-loving ground cover and you have an eye-catching display that you and your visitors can enjoy. You’ll love this plant’s fantastic display and will appreciate the way it draws hummingbirds and other beneficial pollinators to your garden.
If you need a cold-weather plant, Coral Bells are what you’ve been hoping to find. It survives temperatures down to -25°F, can tolerate drought, and is disease tolerant, too. If you live where the climate is warmer, however, you might need to bring the plant indoors in the late summer so that it does not wither.
Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri) – Incredible Shade Flowers
When you need a long-growing and long-lasting plant that looks great without much effort, consider the wishbone flower. This low-slung flowering plant is ideal for ground cover, and it will make your garden containers shine. Add them to any pots that need a touch of colorful foliage, such as fruit trees in pots.
The wishbone flower is hardy and ready for the worst summers you can throw at it, but keep it hydrated to avoid damage. The wishbone flower does best in moist soil with morning sun and afternoon shade, so plan accordingly.
Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)
The coleus, otherwise known as poor man’s Croton and painted nettle, are shade-loving plants that will be right at home in your shade garden. The coleus is available in a wide range of leaf shapes and colors, and you can mix and match them to produce the best display for your garden.
It’s not difficult to plant and maintain coleus; in fact, the coleus is a weed in some regions. Keep the new plants watered, and place the plants in a shady container. You shouldn’t have to worry about growth, but if you’re concerned, apply liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength in the spring.
Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
Also called the Moneywort, the golden creeping jenny is a nonflowering plant that loves shady spots. The golden creeping jenny is perfect for hanging baskets and window boxes, too: its long vines cascade down the sides of the basket and sway in the breeze. While the golden creeping jenny has a top height of around eight inches, it sends out enormous two-foot shoots during its growth periods.
Place the golden creeping jenny in a shade container at the garden borders where the plant’s warm color can enhance and define the boundaries. Because of its extreme durability and adaptability, the gold creeping jenny is considered an invasive species in some regions, so check your local regulations before you buy one.
Dichondra (Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’)
The Silver Falls Dichondra is a low-growing evergreen shade plant that is amazingly resistant to cold. This plant is fine with temperatures down to 0°F, and its low profile makes it ideal for use as a groundcover. Its bright silvery foliage adds sparkle to your garden.
Plant your Dichondra in well-drained soil with moderate nutrients, and place the pot in a shady area. Let the soil to dry out almost entirely before watering it again. The Dichondra is going to grow quite a bit in its first year, so make sure to give it a large enough pot to accommodate it as it expands.
We hope you enjoyed this guide to shade plants for pots. When you want to create a magical garden, but you don’t have space or sunlight to pull it off, these plants will make your home a more attractive place to live.
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