Plants That Grow in Full Shade

Searching for plants that grow in full shade is a job filled with challenges. The challenges begin with the definitions of sunlight requirements, so the relevant terms need to be discussed first, starting with the definition of full shade.

The term full shade does not mean no sun. For horticultural purposes, a location is considered to be in full shade if it receives less than three hours of direct sun daily and receives filtered sun the rest of the day.

Preferably, the hours of direct sun occur in the cooler hours of the morning with filtered protection from intense sun in the late afternoon.

You might easily overlook shrubs when planning a shade garden (many gardeners gravitate toward annual and perennial flowering plants).


Perennial plants, particularly those that flower can make up for the color variety and dramatic seasonal display that your evergreen shrubs can't provide.


Supplement the flowers provided by your perennials with well-placed, flowering annual plants.


Ground cover plants for full shade are especially useful when you need to cover large swaths of shaded land if you don't want to use perennials or re-plant annuals every year to serve as bedding plants.

Ground Covers

Options for shade-tolerant vines are somewhat limited, particularly if you are in search of a flowering vine that is hardy in a cold-winter climate.