Container Garden Recipes for Shade

Enjoy a beautiful container garden -- even in shade. Check out this collection of recipes perfect for spots that don't see full sun.

By Ruth Rogers Clausen


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ceramic pot and troughs
1/26
Grow Colorful Foliage

    This collection of troughs and pots relies on foliage shapes, sizes, and contrast for impact. If you don't want to grow tropical bulbs like these elephant's ears, grow your favorite houseplants in the shade instead!

    A. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Inky Fingers') -- 1
    B. Elephant ears (Alocasia amazonica ) -- 1
    C. Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic') -- 1
    D. Hosta 'Pot of Gold' -- 1
    E. Sedge (Carex 'Beatlemania') -- 1

2/26
Create Architectural Interest

    Use plant forms to create architectural interest in your landscape. Here, a fullmoon maple makes a wonderful contrast against mounding plants and its square container.

    A. Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens') -- 3
    B. Fullmoon maple (Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum') -- 1
    C. Oxalis vulcanicola 'Zinfandel' -- 1
    D. Foamflower (Tiarella 'Pink Brushes') -- 1

3/26
Keep It Simple

    A classic hosta in a classic container makes a statement all its own.

    A. Hosta 'Aureomarginata' -- 1

4/26
Try Repetition

    Repetition is a trick used by many top garden designers. You can do the same thing with your container gardens. Here, bright begonias enliven a pot of herbs for the kitchen and create a focal point of color.

    A. Begonia 'Dragon Wing Red' -- 4
    B. Golden sage (Salvia officinalis 'Aurea') -- 2
    C. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) -- 1

5/26
Add Color Anywhere

    This half wall-basket lined with sphagnum moss exudes old-world charm. You can use a container like this anywhere -- from a wall to a gate or even a doorway.

    A. Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) -- 2
    B. Double impatiens (Impatiens 'Fiesta Sparkler Hot Pink') -- 3

6/26
Create an Explosion of Color

    Similar pots in different sizes planted to echo each other present a clean and elegant display. We love the use of a fern to add height and extra interest.

    A. Reiger begonia (Begonia 'Charisma Pink') -- 6
    B. Fuchsia 'Hidcote Beauty' -- 3
    C. Wood fern (Dryopteris clintoniana) -- 1

7/26
Make a Statement the Simple Way

    This is a simple yet dramatic pairing for a shady spot -- with just two plants (each with two leaf colors).

    A. Caladium 'Gingerland' -- 1
    B. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Inky Fingers') -- 1

8/26
Look for Unused Space

    Just because your garden beds are full doesn't mean you don't have room for more plants. This collection of baskets is a great way to add an extra dose of color to a garage.

    A. Tuberous begonia (Begonia 'Nonstop Apricot') -- 2
    B. Tuberous begonia (Begonia 'Nonstop Bright Red') -- 2
    C. Tuberous begonia (Begonia 'Nonstop Yellow') -- 2

9/26
Look Up

    Pay attention to your containers. Here, sleek, shiny pots draw your eye up to a bonanza of color and texture.

    A. Caladium 'Florida Elise' -- 2
    B. Perilla 'Gage's Shadow' -- 1
    C. Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Myersii') -- 1
    D. New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens 'Sonic Cherry') -- 1
    E. Oxalis vulcanicola 'Zinfandel' -- 1

10/26
Look for Fun Containers

    This dramatic yet simple design relies upon foliage size and color contrasts for impact -- all in a simple, salvaged bucket.

    A. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Sedona') -- 1
    B. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Sweet Caroline Bronze') -- 2
    C. Elephant Ears (Colocasia 'Red Stem Rhubarb') -- 1

11/26
Try Contrasting Containers

    If you're not sure where to start, look at your container and complement or contrast it with color. Here, the black pots look great against bold, bright colors.

    A. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Daffy') -- 1
    B. Sedge (Carex hachijoensis) -- 1
    C. Caladium 'Florida Beauty' -- 1
    D. Coleus (Solenostemon 'JoDonna') -- 1

12/26
Select Easy Plants

    This unusual pairing of easy-growing but striking plants makes a statement in partial shade. Each container complements its contents perfectly.

    A. Begonia 'Dragon Wing Red' -- 3
    B. Oxalis regnellii -- 5

13/26
Pick a Specimen Plant

    Dramatic enough to stand alone, this wildly colored perilla punctuates a corner of the landscape all on its own.

    A. Perilla 'Magilla' -- 1

14/26
Employ Powerful Foliage

    With wonderful foliage like the golden sedge, purple heavenly bamboo, and variegated geranium, you hardly notice that there are no flowers. Choose varieties with great foliage for extra interest and texture.

    A. Golden sedge (Carex elata 'Aurea') -- 1
    B. Geranium (Pelargonium 'Dolly Varden') -- 1
    C. Elephant ears (Colocasia 'Black Magic') -- 1
    D. Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica 'Sienna Sunrise') -- 1

15/26
Create Summer Cheer

    A colorful combination of easy-flowering plants that will remain attractive all summer long for a bright way to add interest to any shaded corner of your garden.

    A. Tuberous begonia (Begonia 'Scentiment Blush') -- 1
    B. Impatiens 'Accent Watermelon' -- 3

16/26
Create a Festive Feel

    This pleasing arrangement of easy-to-find plants could decorate a shaded summer deck or patio for several months.

    A. Caladium 'Frieda Hemple' -- 1
    B. Wax begonia (Begonia 'Victory Green Leaf White') -- 2
    C. Ivy (Hedera helix 'Duckfoot') -- 3

17/26
Use Bright Colors

    Light, bright colors show best in shade. This planting relies on shimmering white with a touch of pink to stand out from its surroundings.

    A. Caladium 'Candidum' -- 3
    B. Petunia 'Supertunia Mini-Silver' -- 3
    C. Cosmos bipinnatus 'White Sonata' -- 2
    D. Reiger begonia (Begonia 'Charisma Pink') -- 3
    E. Lamium galeobdolon 'Herman's Pride' -- 3
    F. Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus) -- 2

18/26
Go with Groups

    One pot by itself looks great -- but more is better! This pink, white, and blue collection is set off by the solid green foliage of the fern behind.

    A. Impatiens 'Accent Bright Eyed' -- 1
    B. Wax begonia (Begonia 'Senator White') -- 1
    C. Browallia speciosa 'Blue Bells' -- 3
    D. Pentas lanceolata 'New Look Pink' -- 1

19/26
Create a Tower of Color

    Tough, vigorous plants meet in a bold, eye-catching arrangement that looks good all the way to frost.

    A. Begonia 'Dragon Wing Pink' -- 3
    B. Impatiens 'Showstopper Tropical Punch' -- 3

20/26
Choose Fun Containers

    Easy-to-grow plants combine here to brighten a dull fence. The metal container is unusual enough that it needs little embellishment -- so white flowers are a perfect choice.

    A. Impatiens 'Dazzler White' -- 2
    B. Asparagus fern (Asparagus sprengeri) -- 1

21/26
Create a Rustic Mood

    This rustic container is complemented by the simple plantings to create a perfect vignette for a shady woodland or country-style garden.

    A. Browallia speciosa 'Blue Bells' -- 3
    B. Asparagus fern (Asparagus sprengeri) -- 2
    C. Wax begonia (Begonia 'Prelude White') -- 2
    D. Wax begonia (Begonia 'Prelude Rose') -- 2
    E. Variegated ivy (Hedera helix 'Gold Child') -- 3

22/26
Use Layers for Impact

    Two layers of plants create extra interest in this container. The bright caladium leaves are a perfect contrast to bold impatiens and vinca blooms.

    A. Caladium 'Candidum' -- 1
    B. Vinca (Catharanthus 'Titan Punch') -- 3
    C. Vinca (Catharanthus 'Titan Rose') -- 3
    D. Impatiens 'Jungle Gold' -- 3

23/26
Use Powerful Contrasts

    The repetition of reds contrasted with a white-variegated caladium makes this grouping stand out.

    A. Impatiens 'Petticoat Fire' -- 1
    B. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Atlas') -- 1
    C. Coleus (Solenostemon 'Kingwood Torch') -- 1
    D. Caladium 'Candidum' -- 1

24/26
Grow a Mixed Planting

    This container offers a little of everything: annuals, perennials, and tropical vines. Mix and match different plant types for high-impact combinations.

    A. Hosta plantaginea -- 1
    B. Mandevilla 'Alice du Pont' -- 1
    C. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita') -- 1
    D. Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) -- 2
    E. Algerian ivy (Hedera algeriensis) -- 2
    F. Verbena 'Superbena Burgundy' -- 3

25/26
Try Long-Blooming Perennials in Pots

    Pots aren't just for annuals -- perennials look great, too. Here, a yellow corydalis will continue to bloom from spring to the first fall frost.

    A. (Corydalis lutea) -- 2

26/26
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