Plants for shady areas of the garden

Unfortunately, not everyone has a large, south-facing garden that receives the sun all day. Many of us have a shady area of the garden and it is commonly thought that not a lot can grow in shade. This isn't necessarily true. As long as they are not planted in extremely dense shade, there is a whole range of flowers and plants available that can cope and thrive. Here we share some of our favourite choices for the shadier areas of your garden.  

There are many Spring flowering bulbs which are extremely versatile and hardy which can grow in many different environments, including in partial shade. Not only do Spring flowering bulbs look great in flower beds, but they are also equally at home under trees, in lawns, woodlands or next to ponds.


These dainty white flowers dangle gracefully and are amazing naturalisers, especially in woodland or rock garden settings. The striking white against the green of the foliage marks one of the earliest signs that winter has passed and is a favourite across the country. They are beautiful under trees and shrubs.


The crocus is a stunning flower that is capable of pushing its way through the snow and frost to reveal its bold and beautiful blooms. They are a perfect choice for a shadier garden and they provide winter garden colour. They naturalise well and come in a variety of colours ranging from pinks and reds to oranges, purples and more. These bulbs can be planted almost anywhere, just ensure you plant them before the ground starts to freeze so that a robust root system can be established. 


Also known as “glory of the snow” Chinonodoxa is a small group of perennial flowering plants that have starry flowers and appear in early spring. Their rich colour is a joy to see and they are also fantastic naturalisers. When you plant them, aim for them to receive at least half-day sun. You can also plant them in containers as long as you fill them with good quality, well-drained soil. 


Although tulips thrive in full sun, they can still bloom in partial shade. You just need to ensure that they are not planted in heavy soil. If you grow them in the right spot and take care of them, you will be able to reap the benefits of seeing them return year after year, adding dramatic colour to your garden every Spring. 


Muscari is easy to grow and is a relatively low maintenance plant. They are a great way to add variety in colour and appearance. Have them in full shade during spring but partial shade in summer. Not only can they naturalise, but they also look beautiful next to other Spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils or tulips. 


Although they can cope with full sun, Fritillaria prefers partial shade. They should be planted in fertile, well-drained soil as they cannot cope with soil that is too wet. Their distinctive shape and style with their bell-shaped, delicate flowers, make them an interesting and rare addition to your garden. 


Anemones make a great addition to a flower bed as they can bring a beautiful palette of colour and are relatively easy to grow. Place anemone-blanda species in soil that is light with good drainage and in gentle shade. Wood anemone species, however, prefer damper soil.


Commonly known as Summer snowflake, the flowers of the Leucojum resemble those of Snowdrops. These are perfect for woodland settings and being placed in the grass or around trees as they prefer the areas of the garden that are in partial or even full shade. 


Full sun is ideal however Camassia can still grow in partial shade. The bulbs can tolerate a lot more moisture than other Spring flowering varieties, however, they should not be planted in wet soil. They can be planted in containers, however, the preferred location is in flower beds. They also make excellent cut flowers. 

The best thing about all of these options is that they are perfect for the colder months of the year as well, meaning that there is no reason why you cannot have a garden in full bloom and looking beautiful throughout the seasons.

Combining these Spring bulbs with other shrubs and perennials that do not require long periods of sunlight can help you transform any garden into a colourful and visually stunning green space. Once Spring bulbs have finished blooming, they will eventually fade away and return the following year.  They are ideal companions for perennials that like the shade, as they are at their best during summer and autumn once the spring bulbs have disappeared, meaning you are not left with unappealing, empty areas of the garden. Using plants and flower bulbs that are known to be tolerant is important when you are planning to plant in shady areas. However, as the list above suggests, there are many options available that are all equally striking. 

If you need any help with bulbs and gardening advice, then please contact us. Boston Bulbs Wholesale is a privately owned business with over 35 years’ experience of importing only the finest quality horticultural products through Europe and from farms and growers over the UK. Whether you’re a landscaper, nursery, local authority, wholesale, retailer, private business or individual gardener, give us a call on 01775 769 333 or visit for help with flower bulbs, grass seed and more. 

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