COLORS OF SHADE A shady spot in the landscape or a tree-lined yard doesn’t have to be relegated to threadbare carpets of grass. Create a woodland garden in the dappled light, or add a line of striking colors to a north-facing home with these Shade Gems.
OUR FAVORITE CHOICES Most of these perennials can be mixed and matched with each other—Hostas are the only exceptions. They are large plants with broad leaves that catch all the sun and water they can reach; Hostas are better paired with early spring bulbs.
- Polemoniums and Pulmonaria grow low and sport soft flowers in the early spring. Their leaves are often speckled or striped with creams or whites.
- Heucheras are taller than Polemoniums and look super in early spring. They provide low foliage color throughout fall. There are so many choices: Reds, golds, coffees and limes; frills and ruffles and paisley textures—or not.
- Dicentras feature the classic bleeding heart in late spring and early summer. They are available in both short and tall forms.
- Astibles provide tall color in reds, pinks and whites that bloom during the summer.
- Artemesia has soft, fluffy foliage in a low-mounding, bushy form. This is a great support plant that makes the other colors—even the green shades—shine brighter. Mixing it with Heucheras is a long-lasting, no-care, great-looking shade solution.
- Hostas display bold forms that cover a lot of ground. They own the space they grow in, so treat a line of hostas like a low hedge of hostas. Emerging late in the season, they mix best with early spring bulbs and flowers that die back when the heat intensifies. Hostas are available in blue-greens, gold-greens or variegated with white or creamy stripes. Be prepared—some can get very, very big and tall.