Many amateur gardeners have difficulty choosing plants for a shady area. Although the options were extremely limited up until not so long ago, it’s a very different story these days. Now, garden centers offer a wide variety of suitable plants that add beauty and interest to any type of flowerbed.

The first step in creating a shade garden is to realize that “shade” is not always easy to define. Very few budding gardeners can say if the site in question is shaded or partly shaded. Indeed, shade isn’t static and varies greatly throughout the day and season. Over a few days during the summer season, note how many hours of indirect sunlight and total shade the area receives. Then choose suitable plant varieties with care, taking into consideration leaf texture and plant shapes, which are important factors in any shade garden.

A last piece of advice: most shade plants require rich, cool soil. To create the right conditions for them, spread a thick layer of shredded leaves around their bases in the fall. As they slowly decompose and become humus, the leaves fertilize the soil.

Ferns 
Finely cut fronds create a spectacular effect.

Bleeding Heart 
Pretty pink or white heart-shaped flowers distinguish this shrub.

Hosta 
Although able to grow just about anywhere, it flourishes well in the shade. Experienced gardeners mix different varieties in shaded areas to create beautiful color contrasts.

Heuchera 
Dozens of showy varieties feature richly colored leaves.