If you are looking for some ideas of what to plant under your shady trees than today is your lucky day! I am sharing 15 of my favorite shade plants, perennials, flowers & shrubs that look beautiful under trees in the garden with pictures.
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.
One of the Best things about these beautiful shade plants for under trees that I am sharing is that most of these shade plants are inexpensive to buy or easy to divide & transplant for FREE.
Table of Contents
15 Shade Plants to Grow Under Trees
*this post contains affiliate links for more information check out my disclosure page here*
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!
Shade Plant 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.
These gorgeous shade plants 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 & our plants deer resistant HERE.
Shade Plant TWO – Astilbe
These shade plants are available in a few different colors, 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 shady tree with a few shorter plants in front of them.
Shade Plant THREE – Iris
Iris is another taller shade plant that is incredibly hardy & an easy shade plant to divide & transplant.
I have had yellow & purple colored iris over the years & appreciate that they bloom earlier (late April, Early May) than some of the other shade plants in my garden.
The Purple Iris looks beautiful planted next to our privacy fence.
Shade Plant FOUR – Wild Ginger
Ginger plants are a great alternative ground cover under trees if you are looking for shade plants that are not very tall & their rounded shiny leaves are unique to any shade garden.
Shade Plant FIVE – Lamb’s Ears
While some lamb’s ears are consider more of weed to some, I find the one’s with smaller leaves that bloom to be less so.
My kids have always loved their fuzzy leaves & the fun fact that Native American Indians used them for band aids.
And… they make great shade plants that need very little water & do well in dry soil!
Shade Plant SIX – Widow’s Tears or Spiderwort
These two foot tall shade plants also known as spiderwort add color under your shady trees with their small flowers of bluish purple.
They only bloom during the day when the sun comes out which make them a little more unique.
These shade plants also grow in deeper shade to sunnier spots with difficult soil where other pants will not grow as well.
Shade Shrub SEVEN – Hydrangea
Climbing hydrangeas & hydrangea shrubs or bushes do very well under shade trees as long as they have plenty of moisture.
I often plant these shade plants near a down spot close to my foundation wall because they down seem to mind the extra water & shade from our farmhouse.
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.
Shade Plant EIGHT – Peonies
Peonies are one of my favorite perennial shade plants 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 bigger & better every year without fail.
Their giant flower blooms also look beautiful & smell delicious in a flower vase.
Shade Plant NINE – Roses
While I would not try garden tea or heirloom roses under a shady tree, I have had terrific success with knockout & shrub roses as shade plants under my trees.
They add gorgeous color to a very shady spot all summer long.
Just be careful not to plant one too close to where you might want to walk because of the thorns.
Shade Plant TEN – Camellia
Camellia shrubs are great because they bloom in very early spring here where we live in Pa & their glossy leaves look so pretty in the early spring.
These shade plants blooms smell pretty great too!
Shade Plant ELEVEN – Daylilies
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. 🙂
Shade Plant TWELVE – Ferns
Ferns are great shade plants that seem to do well in wet & dry spots under trees in my garden.
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.
Shade Plant THIRTEEN – Solomon Seal
This lovely shade plants will grow pretty much anywhere without being invasive & just look at those beautiful white flowers!
They also grow in spots where they don’t need a lot of water which makes them a great shade plant for under trees.
Shade Shrub 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 flowers 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.
Shade Plant 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 my most favorite shade plant we have in our whole farmhouse garden.
I hope this inspires you to plant some shade plants under your trees!
I hope my 15 shade plants that look beautiful under trees will inspire you to try one or two in your garden.
What are your favorite shady garden plants?
by Tara Lehman
Don’t forget to save my 15 favorite shade plants to grow under trees to your favorite gardening board on Pinterest!