The Blog

Perennials that Love Living in the Shadows

Many garden enthusiast have an area of landscape that doesn’t get as much sun needed for optimal plant growth. Try as they might,  it is hard to grow or maintain anything in these areas. It seems the most visually appealing plants thrive in full sun, and shaded areas are a lost cause.  However, it does not have to be this way. There are many very attractive shade-tolerant plants available to brighten up your darkest corners. Let’s begin by looking at tried and true favorites.


Hostas vary from dwarf varieties that grow a few inches high, to giants that stand 3 ft. or taller. Their colors run the spectrum of white to blue, with variegated, or solid color leaves. Hostas bloom a flower spike or several, that hosts several bell-shaped blooms along the upper length of the spike, in shades of white or purple.  Some varieties have fragrant flowers. Hostas are not deer-resistent, so in keeping the whitetails at bay, there are several deterrents available. 

  •   Deer Repellent Spray: The downside of this method, is that you have to apply it periodically.
  •   Human Hair: Use swatches of human hair around the area the where the hostas are planted, the scent will often drive deer away.
  • Get a Dog: This option is not an option for everyone, choose wisely.
  • Deer Scram:  There is a product called Deer Scram that comes in granules, and keeps deer and other nibblers away.   Many larger garden or home improvement centers carry this product. 

Variegated Hosta

Ajuga also known as Bugleweed  is a very dense groundcover. Growing only 6 inches tall, it is a wonderful companion plant for other shade dwellers. Bugleweed offers beautiful evergreen foliage that varies from a deep purple, to a silver-green in a variegated leaf, and early summer purple flowering spikes that grow about 3 inches above the foliage. This groundcover is nibbler resistant, as rabbits and deer do not bother the leaves.



Astilbe is a star performer. These beautiful deer-resistant plants offer stunning blooms that sit above their glossy green foliage. Colors vary from white to red, with shades of pink and purple in between. When the blooms are finished, trim them off for the attractive foliage that lasts until the first frost.  Afterwards cut them back to allow for new growth in spring. 



Columbine offers a variety of color, with blooms that tower above the foliage in early spring into early summer. The attractive foliage makes it a go-to for edge plantings. Columbine is deer-resistant, and drought-tolerant, and does exceptionally well when mulched.  Deadhead columbines so they do not  go to seed, and lose energy.  This may weaken the plant(s) enough to die out in 3 or 4 years.

Hellebore/Lenten Rose

Lenten Rose or Hellebore is the hardiest of all the shade lovers. It is tolerant to cold winters, and may bloom among snow. The dark green or silver foliage adds its own aesthetics to landscapes, even after the blooms are gone. Lenten Rose is deer-resistant, and their  blooms vary from green to almost black. One would be hard pressed to find another plant better suited for a difficult shaded area.


Lenten Rose/Hellebore