Best Plants for a Shade Garden in Texas

Most people find it easy to choose flowers and assorted greenery for a garden in the bright and warm sun. It can be a challenge that is well worth taking on to plant a shade garden with beautiful variegated foliage and bountiful blooms for areas that have partial sun to all shade. You need to find some answers to your shady area in order to choose plantings wisely.

Lovely Shade Garden with Year Round Interest and Color

If you have a shady area in your lawn and you want to spruce it up, you can add beautiful foliage for all year round color and add annuals for a burst of color in the spring through the fall.

Dry Shade or Wet Shade?

You know the area in mind that you want to add interest to is shady, but is it dry shade or wet shade? Shade plants are often categorized by being dry or wet shade plants. Dry shade means that the plants will need little or no supplemental water and wet shade is when the soil is mossy or the area is low and water naturally drains to that area.

Many sun-loving plants will still do well in a shadier habitat, but most natives plants are pretty selective about the amount of water they do or don’t get. Examples of these are oxeye daisy, rudbeckia and gaura. These will do well in dry shade, but in the case of excess water from rainfall or a sprinkler or in heavy moist clay, they will not perform well as they don’t like to “get their feet wet.”

You can find many dry shade plants that are familiar, such as the shrimp plant, columbines with their tall spikes of bountiful blooms, rudbeckia, Turk’s cap, blue mist and salvia. These are also mostly butterfly attractors to add special interest to your shade garden. Sub-tropicals and marginals or bog plants, are the types to choose for wet shade. A great mix of these include ferns, hostas, purple phlox, spider lilies, elephant ears, violets, cora bells, gingers and the winter blooming Lenten rose.

Foliage Rules the Roost in a Shade Garden

Many homeowners have no idea how much color and interest you can have in a shade garden that will give you color all year round. Choosing different types of foliage to mix together is a fun task. You can choose large and small and find many types of greenery in interesting colors, contrasts and different leave shapes for a spectacular area.

Shade Garden Perennials

Brightly variegated foliage plants for a shade garden that grow fast include some perennials that will never need to be replanting such as creeping jenny–a lovely groundcover in shades of green with several varieties that include flowers as well. This is great to put in a shade garden to fill in any bare spots on the ground. Cora bells are another perennial that is evergreen. They add height to your shade garden and grow 1 to 3 feet tall with foliage of gold and gray, silver and purple or burgundy and sport tall spikes of flowers in green, pink, white and red. Cora bells also attract birds for an added interest.

Shade Garden Annuals

Some great shade annuals include coleus, with brightly colored variegated leaves in interesting shapes. You can choose from a brilliant pink and shocking lime green and add in some other varieties in combinations of maroon, red and yellow. New Guinea impatiens mix well with coleus to complement the color combinations. Impatiens have different shades of green on the leaves and the blooms include red, bright pink, white, orange and variegated shades of each color. This is also a shade annual that you would replace at the same time as your coleus for easy maintenance in your garden.

Shade Garden Bulbs

Tender bulbs will generally survive the winter in Texas and can be left in the ground to over winter without the need to lift and store them as people in the northern states need to. Some great examples of these are tall varieties to add shape to your shade garden. Look for cannas with their tall stately foliage on long stalks that sport blooms from early spring to late fall and remain green all year round. Varieties include a vast amount of colors with immense, often veined and paddle shaped leaves on stalks of bronze or green. You can choose from the standard cannas that grow 4 to 6 feet tall and work well in the back of a shade garden or the dwarf type, which stays under 3 feet tall to place anywhere in the garden. Some popular varieties include The President in red, Yellow King Hubert with spots on the leaves, Rosamond Cole with its orange edges on gold and the City of Portland is a stunning salmon pink. Bengal Tiger is one of the favorites for its green and yellow striped leaves with maroon edges and bright orange flowers.

Elephant’s ears are also a favorite bulb among homeowners for a shade garden. These have a bold texture and high drama in a shade garden. They can reach from 3 to 10 feet tall for height and can spread from 2 to 10 feet wide as specimen plants. Leaves can be found in many colors such as silver, pink and chartreuse and some do actually bloom, although these are stunning plants even if they never bloom.

Bring on the Blooms

Bigleaf hydrangea includes big color too. They are an amazing plant with bloom colors that you can control. If your soil has a higher pH it results in beautiful, bright pink blooms, however, if your soil has a lower pH, you get beautiful, blue blooms. Even when the blooms fade in late summer, the large leaves in a dark green shade still give you attractive greenery throughout the winter months.


River Rock

Instead of a ground cover, you may opt to add some river rock to fill in spaces between plantings. River rock is usually a mixture of shades of brown that pair nicely with variegated and green leaves on any type of plants for contrast in color.

The best idea for a shade garden in Texas is to get plants from a local nursery. They will carry the correct types of plants that will grow easily in your area of the state. You have many options to spruce up your shady area in your landscape design.

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