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Best Choices for Colored Foliage in the Shade Garden

When it comes to designing a garden, choosing the right plants for the right spots can be a little daunting. You have to consider sizes, shapes, colors, textures, form and maintenance. However, once you have the perfect plants selected for the ideal areas within your yard, you can get started in creating the beautiful, thriving garden of your dreams.

hosta dancing queen

As you begin selecting plants for the shady spots of your garden, remembering the effects that color can have. Planting dark-colored foliage in the shade can result in those areas resembling a black hole. (Also keep in mind that many purple-leaved plants need lots of bright sunlight to retain their best color. By planting in the shade, you risk duller, less vibrant hues.) Instead, choose plants with bright foliage—such as gold, silver or white—to highlight and brighten those shady spots within your garden.

hosta royal wedding

Images: Top: 'Dancing Queen' hosta offers bright yellow foliage all season in shade. Bottom: 'Royal Wedding' hosta's crisp white edges add a spot of brightness to shady spaces.

Check out these helpful design and shade-gardening tips:

Flowering shrubs for shade gardens

Shade annuals

Book review: Planting the Dry Shade Garden

Groundcovers for shade

Perennials for shade

What texture means in terms of plants and garden design

Book review: Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture & Form

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The Horticulture: Gardening In the Shade CD offers insightful strategies for gardening in the shade.

Learn how to grow a flourishing, beautiful shade garden with the Garden How-To University: Shade Gardening.

The Smart Gardening Guide: Problem Solving is a wonderful, downloadable PDF filled with design strategies and plant selections perfect for overcoming common garden challenges.

Garden Design with Rebecca Sweet is an exclusive value pack that includes key resources for improving your garden design.

Download Design Perspectives for insightful and sound advice for improving your overall landscape from noted garden designers, Susan Cohan and Rebecca Sweet.