Made for the Shade: Well Adapted Plants for Shady Areas

Texas Gold columbine

Annuals& Perennials | Shrubs
| Small Trees | Vines
| Ground Cover |


Annuals & Perennials

  • Ajuga (Ajuga reptans) — 3-6″,purple leaves, blooms,
    mesic. Nematodes can be a problem.
  • aspidistra (aspidistra elatior) — Rightly called “Cast
    Iron Plant”, mesic, grows slowly, evergreen.
  • Chamomile (Chamaemelum spp.) — Annual herb, mesic,
    pm shade, bloom used for tea
  • Columbine (Aquilegia spp.) – Part sun to shade, 15-18
    inches. The yellow blooming Texas Gold and the red and yellow Aquilegia
    canadensis perform well here. xeric, dormant in summer
    if not watered. Prone to leafminers, use Neem oil to treat.
  • Coral Bells (Huechera sanguinea) — mesic,
    blooms, PM shade, green or purple leaves
  • Clerodendrum (Clerodendrum bungei) — Deciduous perennial,
    3-6 ft. Large, showy pink flowers in summer. Good hummingbird plant.
    Spreads aggressively by underground suckers.
  • Elephant Ears (Colocasia esculenta) — Perennial bulb,
    dies back in winter, grows to 6 ft. with large, dramatic leaves. Mulch
    to protect from freezing. mesic.
  • Foxtail Fern – related to asparagus fern, soft bushy stems,
    mesic. Tops may freeze.
  • Frog Fruit (Phyla nodiflora) — Low growing ground cover
    3’4″, xeric, blooms
  • Hoja Santa (Piper auritum) — 4-6 ft., invasive, mesic,
    used for cooking
  • Hollyfern (Cytomium falcatum) — evergreen, mesic.
    Good for containers.
  • Horsetail Reed (Equisetum hyemale) — Bogs, wet shade,
  • Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) — Perennial
    native grass. Good for erosion control. Wet or dry, sun or shade, this
    is a hardy plant. Remove seeds to control spread.
  • Lamium (Lamium maculatum) — many varieties, blooms,
    low growing with variegated foliage.
  • Liriope
    (Liriope muscari) — mesic, blooms, cut to 4
    inches in Spring to revive.
  • Monkeygrass or Mondograss (Ophiopogon japonicus) —
    xeric, low-growing groundcover. Avoid the dwarf form,
    not adapted to alkaline soils.
  • Nolina or Beargrass (Nolina nelsonii) — Grass like
    foliage, xeric, OK in deep shade, good for slopes,
    erosion control
  • Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) — Blooms,
    mesic , good soil and drainage.
  • Oxalis, Wood Sorrel (Oxalis spp.) — Blooms,
    xeric or mesic, invasive.
  • Pigeonberry (Rivina humilis) — Blooms, xeric,
    berries for wildlife.
  • Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) — Blooms, self-sows
    freely, xeric.
  • Ruellia, Mexican Petunia (Ruellia spp.) — Best are
    Katie and Bonita dwarf forms and taller Chi-Chi pink. mesic
    or xeric, invasive.
  • Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana and J. tomentosa)
    – xeric, blooms, very hardy. Deer
  • Spiderlily (Hymenocallis spp.) — Afternoon shade, blooms,
  • Spiderwort (Tradescantia andersoniana) — Purple blooms,
  • Sweet violets (Viola odorata) — Spring blooms edible,
  • Texas Aster (Aster texanus) — Fall blooms, tall when
    blooming, xeric. Cut blooms to control seeds.
  • Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea) — part shade, coral
    blooms, one of my favorites
  • Tropical Sage (Salvia coccinea) — red, white, pink
    or coral, freely self-sows. xeric.
  • Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) — 4-5 ft. Blooms,
    seeds for wildlife. Deciduous.
  • Umbrella Plant (Cyperus alternafolius) — Bog or wet areas,
    tops may freeze. Invasive.
  • Wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminensis) — Colorful foliage,
    blooms. mesic.
  • Wood Fern (Dryopteris spp.) — Deciduous, mesic


  • Aralia (Aralia japonica) — Needs good soil, drainage.
    May freeze.
  • Aucuba (Aucuba japonica) — Evergreen shrub, 4-6 ft.
    tall, mottled yellow color on leaves. Leaves will blacken if exposed
    to sun. Prone to spider mites when stressed. mesic
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) — Deciduous, mesic,
    blooms, magenta or white berries.
  • Mexican Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa)
    — xeric, blooms, drops leaves in summer.
  • Snowball Bush Viburnum (Viburnum spp.) — also, Spring
    (Viburnum caricephalum) — Blooms, xeric,
    good for wildlife
  • White Boneset (Eupatorium havanense) — Fall blooms,
    deciduous, xeric.

Small Trees

  • Texas Buckeye (Aesculus glabra) — usually 10-20 ft.
    tall. Yellow or red flowers, seeds are poisonous. Loses leaves in summer.
  • Rough Leaved Dogwood (Cornus drummondii) — xeric,
    blooms, invasive
  • Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) — xeric,
    blooms, fall color


  • Confederate Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) —
    xeric, fragrant blooms

Ground Cover

  • Asian Jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) — can freeze,
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix) — mesic,
    invasive, keep off of trees
  • Horseherb (Calyptocarpus vialis) — evergreen groundcover
    6-8 in., yellow blooms. May be used as a lawn in deep shade. xeric,
    tolerates moderate traffic.

*Mesic are plants which require well prepared
soil, good drainage and moderate to high levels of moisture.

**Xeric plants are adapted to poor soils and lower
levels of water.