7 Great Shade Plants for Container Gardens

  • 01 of 07

    Plants for Shady Spots

    hybrid coleus plants on the window
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    Have a spot that just doesn't get much sun? No worries, coleus will save the day.

    You may think of coleus as fusty and old-fashioned, but it's worth another look. With all the new colors and leaf forms, you may become a total addict. Coleus is a good-natured shade plant - not at all fussy and some will even thrive in full sun. The color choices are jaw-dropping, and the leaf shapes are varied and exciting. Even an ordinary coleus, when paired with the right companion in the right container can be spectacular.

    The colors of coleus are often so intense and sometimes downright weird that you do have to be a little careful when mixing them with other plants. Have some fun and try improbable color combinations – sometimes they work beautifully.

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  • 02 of 07


    Close-Up Of Fuchsia Blooming Outdoors
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    Fuchsias are positively awesome shade plants. The flowers are spectacular and drape beautifully especially great for containers. There are many colors and flower forms. Fuchsia has a reputation for being fussy, but depending on your set up, can be very easy to grow.

    They will happily flower all summer and, if live in a cold climate, you can bring them into to house in the fall and overwinter them. Fuchsias are classic in hanging baskets, but can also look awesome in mixed containers. They look great paired with either complimentary or contrasting color.

    Fuchsias can be a little particular about food and water. They like lots of both - though think moist, not wet. They don't like hot and dry conditions, so if you live in a dry climate, they might not be a good choice for you. 

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  • 03 of 07

    Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri)

    Close-Up Of Pink Torenia Flowers Blooming Outdoors
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    Torenia, also known as wishbone flower, is an elegant and cheerful plant which will flower all summer even in full shade. It is heat tolerant and really easy to take care of. This gem will thrive with regular watering and fertilizing until frost and you don’t even have to deadhead it. 

    Wishbone flower is great in combinations or, in the right container, can be beautiful on its own. You can use it in hanging baskets, window boxes or in any container with good drainage. It is relatively short, two to six inches, and will trail over the side of your container. My favorite is “Summer Wave, Large Violet.”                      

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  • 04 of 07

    Coral Bells (Heuchera)

    Coral Bells, Bradford, Ontario, Canada
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    Heucheras, also known as coral bells, are great perennial container garden plants for shade. They are gorgeous and almost indestructible and come in a huge array of colors. Although they thrive in the shade, most coral bells will also tolerate some sun and are drought tolerant. Coral bells come in fabulous and unusual colors, ranging from an almost black-purple to a peach to a bright key lime. Coral bells will attract hummingbirds, and butterflies and some are hardy to a spectacular, -25 F and look amazing right up until the snow flies.

    While deadheading isn’t necessary, removing flower stems after they have bloomed will keep your plant looking great. A few favorite varieties are "Dolce, Licorice," "Dolce, Key Lime Pie," and "Dolce, Creme Brulee."                      

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  • 05 of 07


    Close-Up Of Pink Begonia Flowers Growing At Park
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    There are so many kinds of begonias that it can make your eyes glaze over. They go from not terribly interesting to totally, incredibly, fabulous. Some tuberous begonias are so beautiful that you want to eat them (but don't). Rex begonias can have leaf colors, shapes and textures that are almost psychedelic.

    There are all kinds of new trailing, angel, and dragon wing begonias that will bloom like crazy all summer. Most begonias need great drainage and don't want to be too wet. Some will be happy in full shade while some would prefer filtered shade. Almost all flowering begonias will need to be fed regularly and generously with a diluted fertilizer.            

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  • 06 of 07

    Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyeranus)

    Full Frame Shot Of Persian Shield Plant Leaves
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    Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyeranus) a gorgeous plant. A combination of purple and silver, it stands out in any container--it is a total thriller. It is exceptionally easy to grow, and it's a little unusual, so you don't see it everywhere. It can get pretty big but can be controlled by pruning. While Persian shield prefers a little bit of sun, you can grow it in the shade. Buy it early, because it often will sell out. 

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  • 07 of 07


    Full Frame Shot Of Oxalis Growing On Field
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    Oxalis is a great container plant. It comes in several gorgeous colors--orange like to purple--is easy to grow and is beautiful all season long. It plays well with others and also looks good all by itself in a beautiful pot. The flowers are pretty, but this plant is all about color and texture. It looks lovely love combined with fuchsia or torenia. If in partial shade, it also looks great with bacopa.

    Most oxalis thrives shade, but will also tolerate partial shade as well.

    If you live in a cold climate, you can bring your oxalis inside for the winter and turn it into a houseplant.