If you are looking for some ideas of what to plant under your trees than today is your lucky day! I am sharing 15 of my favorite shade plants, perennials & shrubs that look beautiful under trees. These shade plants are easy to care for & require very little effort to grow except for the occasional weeding or watering in planting hardiness growing zone 6 where we live in Pa.
15 Shade Plants to Grow Under Trees
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If you saw my post last week about small garden ideas, I talked about all the gardens I planted under shade trees & today I am sharing my favorite shade plants to go under them!
ONE – HOSTAS
Everyone’s Favorite Shade plant, the Hosta. I have literally dug mine up & let them sit for a few months in a corner of my yard till I found the perfect spot to transplant them. They come in many different shapes, sizes & even a few colors.
The only trouble with hostas is to keep the deer from snacking on them for dinner. However, I have a shared a simple trick to keep deer out my garden HERE.
TWO – Astilbe
These shade plants are available in red, pink, purple & white. They get anywhere from 2 to 3 feet tall & seem to love the shade.
Because of their size they look great at the back of the garden or close to the trunk of your tree with a few shorter plants in front of them.
THREE – Iris
Iris is another taller shade plant that is incredibly hardy. I have had yellow & purple iris over the years & appreciate that they bloom earlier (late April, Early May) than some of the other shade plants. The Purple Iris look beautiful planted next to our privacy fence.
FOUR – Wild Ginger
Ginger plants are a great alternative if you are looking for shade plants that are not very tall & their rounded shiny leaves are unique to any shade garden.
FIVE – Lamb’s Ears
Wile some lamb’s ears are consider more of weed I find the one’s with smaller leaves that bloom to be less so. My kids have always loved their fuzzy leaves & the fact that Native American Indians used them for band aids. 🙂 And… they make great shade plants!
SIX – Widow’s Tears or Spiderwort
These two foot tall shade plants add color with their small flowers of purple. They only bloom during the day when the sun comes out which make them a little more unique.
SEVEN – Hydrangea
Climbing hydrangeas & hydrangea shrubs do very well under shade trees as long as they have plenty of moisture. Hydrangeas are definitely one of my all time favorite shade plants because their flowers bloom all summer long & even into the Fall.
They look so pretty cut in Mason Jars for an inexpensive flower arrangement. I share my tips to get the most from your hydrangea blooms HERE.
EIGHT – Peonies
Peonies are one of my favorite perennials because they last for years & will grow well only given filtered sun under trees. We have peonies at our farmhouse that were planted many years ago & come back every year without fail. Their giant blooms also look beautiful & smell delicious in a flower vase.
NINE – Roses
While I would not try garden tea or heirloom roses under a tree, I have had terrific success with knockout & shrub roses under my trees. They add gorgeous color to a very green spot. Just be careful not to plant one too close to where you might want to walk because of the thorns.
TEN – Camellia
Camellia shrubs are great because they bloom in very early spring here where we live & their glossy leaves look so pretty. These shade plants blooms smell pretty great too!
ELEVEN – Dalilies
Although, some consider daylilies a sun loving plant, I have also found they will grow well with filtered sun under the trees. They come in just about every color but blue last I checked & I have had fun collecting so many different colored ones over the years. My favorite daylily is called “Dance Ballerina Dance” which is a peachy pink color similar to ballet shoes. They remind me of my time as a dancer & always make me smile 🙂
TWELVE – Ferns
Ferns are great shade plants. I found the trick to growing ferns outside is to leave them alone all winter long & refuse the urge to pull their dead leaves in the winter. There are so many different varieties & they are so hardy.
They also make fantastic houseplants. You can see them on my summer mantel, HERE.
THIRTEEN – Solomon Seal
This lovely shade plant will grow pretty much anywhere without being invasive & just look at those beautiful white flowers!
FOURTEEN – Rhododendron
Some rhododendrons get pretty large but they are great shade plants to grow under trees especially if you want some privacy. Their pink, purple & white blooms look great too. We started a row Rhododendrons under a row of Blue Spruces along our fence line & they bring some much needed color to this spot off of our fire pit gravel patio.
FIFTEEN – Lady Slipper Orchid
This beautiful shade perennial is hard to propagate & rare plants can often be expensive to buy. Are you wondering why I suggested it? Once it is established it a carefree shade plant to grow. I could not believe my eyes when I realized a few years ago the we had a lady slipper growing under my 75 foot evergreen Spruce tree. This year, it grew to 3 flowers & is by far the most plant we have in our whole farmhouse.
I hope this inspires you to plant some shade plants under your trees!
What are your favorite shady garden plants?