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The perfect plants and shrubs for shade

Finding the right plants and shrubs for a shady garden can be frustrating. Gardening with Gutner asks Ben Young of Young's Greenhouse what he suggests.

PARIS, Maine — Sun-loving perennials and shrubs get all the attention, but don't turn your nose up at their just-as-beautiful shade-craving comrades. 

Gardening with Gutner went to South Paris, Maine, to see what the owner of Young's Greenhouse, Ben Young, had for suggestions to fill that shade garden. 

"You're limited on what you can buy for your shade, but don't feel it's impossible. There's a lot out there," Young stated. 

Starting with coral bells, Young showed all the many different colors the plant comes in. The different colors of foliage create interest in the shade garden.

"You always have that color. That's a nice part and the nice part about them ... you can get big," Young said, showing examples of size for a year-one plant compared to a multi-year plant. He warned to landscape in a way that allows for that growth. 

Credit: NCM
coral bells
Credit: NCM
coral bells

Two mainstays of shade gardening are astilbes and hostas. 

"Your astilbes give you a nice feathery plume. They come in every color and they get big too," the greenhouse owner disclosed. "Everybody's got hostas, but the nice thing about those is even in winter time you can have them close to your walkways. If you have snow removals and stuff, they die down to nothing. So it's not going to hurt them. You won't damage them."

Credit: NCM
Credit: NCM

Creepers provide ground cover, working to keep weeds out, and they're economical because they return every year. The more creepers, the less mulch you will need. For shade, Young suggested ajuga, or bugle weed, pachysandra, and vinca vine. 

Credit: NCM
ajuga - bugleweed

There are some beautiful shade-loving shrubs. Young suggested rhododendrons and hydrangeas as well as boxwood. 

"The perk on that is a lot of people like it because it keeps green all winter and provides a nice border," Young said. "The nice thing about boxwood is you can shape them and they're not going to overpower your walkways. Easily trimmed." 

Credit: NCM
Credit: NCM

One of the most popular shade-friendly shrubs is the hydrangea.

"They come in every color. They're one of your best shrubs for shade. They like a little sun but do well in shade," the greenhouse owner commented. "They will keep reblooming, your Endless Summers. You just need to deadhead them a little."

Credit: NCM

So don't let that shade garden intimidate you. There are many beautiful plants and shrubs that will fill it with beautiful blooms and foliage. 


  • coral bells
  • astilbe
  • hosta


  • ajuga - bugle weed
  • pachysandra
  • vinca vine
  • Shrubs:
  • rhododendron
  • boxwood
  • hydrangea

To see all the Gardening with Gutner segments click HERE.

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