Organic Gardening

12 Low-Light Outdoor Plants | Try Growing These First

Gardening has many benefits, but finding plants that look great and can thrive in low-light conditions can be a bit challenging.

Low Light Hydrangeas 1
Low Light Hydrangeas

Fortunately, there’s a wide range of lovely, hardy, low-light outdoor plants for you to choose from if you know where to look. Below, I’ve listed 12 of my favorite that will add a bit of color and interest to your garden.

1. Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos Spectabilis)

Bleeding Heart 1
Bleeding Heart

The heart-shaped blooms in pink and white make the Bleeding Heart plant a beautiful addition to any garden.

It’s also a low-light plant that thrives in cooler temperatures, so it’s suitable for shaded outdoor spaces.

Bleeding Heart also has medicinal properties and is used in traditional medicine to treat heart problems, menstrual irregularities, and even snake bites, among other ailments.

However, the plant can be toxic if ingested in large quantities. Overall, it’s beautiful and unique and will add charm and character to any garden or outdoor space.

Scientific Name: Lamprocapnos Spectabilis
Growth Rate: Moderate
Native Range: Asia
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 3-9
Exposure: Partial to full shade
Soil Needs: Well-drained, moist soil
Tolerate: Deer-resistant
Fertilizing Needs: Fertilize in early spring and late summer with a balanced fertilizer
Pruning Needs: Prune the plant after the blooms have faded to encourage new growth
Bleeding Heart Growing Guide

2. Begonias (Begonia x Semperflorens-Cultorum)

Begonias
Begonias

Known for their bright, showy flowers and lovely foliage, Begonias make a great option for outdoor areas with limited sunlight. They come in different colors and sizes, making them a versatile choice for any garden.

These plants don’t require regular maintenance and can bloom continuously throughout the growing season with regular deadheading.

Wax Begonias make excellent bedding plants, border plants, and container plants for decks and patios.

Scientific Name: Begonia x Semperflorens-Cultorum
Growth Rate: Moderate
Native Range: South and Central America
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 10-11
Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
Soil Needs: Well-draining, moist soil
Tolerate: Heat tolerant, but not frost hardy
Fertilizing Needs: Fertilize once a month with a balanced fertilizer
Pruning Needs: Remove spent blooms regularly to encourage continuous blooming
Begonias Growing Guide

3. Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum Galeobdolon)

Yellow Archangel
Yellow Archangel

A low-maintenance ground cover plant, Yellow Archangel boasts vibrant yellow and green leaves and small yellow flowers. It’s a shade-loving plant that can tolerate some sun, making it a great choice for low-light outdoor areas.

Yellow Archangel isn’t recommended for planting in some areas because it’s invasive. However, you can grow this beautiful plant in containers or as a houseplant.

The plant also has medicinal purposes. For instance, the leaves have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties and can treat wounds and skin irritations.

Scientific Name: Lamiastrum Galeobdolon
Growth Rate: Fast
Native Range: Europe, western Asia
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 4-9
Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
Tolerate: Deer-resistant
Fertilizing Needs: Fertilize in early spring with a balanced fertilizer
Pruning Needs: Cut back in late fall to promote new growth
Yellow Archangel Growing Guide

4. Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles Speciosa)

Flowering Quince
Flowering Quince

With its vibrant, orange-red blooms in early spring, the Flowering Quince is a beautiful, hardy, low-light outdoor plant. It’s drought-tolerant and low-maintenance, making it an ideal choice for novice gardeners.

Flowering quince is a hardy and relatively low-maintenance plant that can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and prefers full sun to partial shade.

It can be propagated through cuttings or by dividing established plants and requires occasional pruning to maintain its shape and remove dead or diseased wood.

Overall, it’s a beautiful and versatile shrub that adds interest and color to any garden or landscape.

Scientific Name: Chaenomeles Speciosa
Growth Rate: Moderate
Native Range: China, Korea, Japan
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 5-8
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Soil Needs: Well-drained, fertile soil
Tolerate: Drought tolerant
Fertilizing Needs: Fertilize in early spring with a balanced fertilizer
Pruning Needs: Prune after flowering to promote new growth
Flowering Quince Growing Guide

5. Hydrangeas (Saxifragranceae)

Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are popular low-light outdoor plants that produce stunning blooms in shades of pink, blue, and white. They’re easy to care for and can thrive in various soil conditions, making them a favorite among gardeners.

Hydrangeas make excellent ornamental plants for gardens and landscaping. They’re often grown for their attractive foliage and large, showy flowers.

Moreover, they’re relatively easy to grow and require little care.

Additionally, hydrangeas can treat various ailments, and some species have edible leaves and roots that can be used in cooking.

However, some species of hydrangeas can be toxic to humans and animals. Therefore, it’s important to exercise caution when handling these plants.

Scientific Name: Hydrangea spp.
Growth Rate: Moderate to fast
Native Range: Asia, Americas
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 3-9
Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
Tolerate: Deer-resistant
Fertilizing Needs: Fertilize in early spring with a balanced fertilizer
Pruning Needs: Prune after flowering to shape and promote new growth
Hydrangea Growing Guide

6. Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium Purpureum)

Purple Dead Nettle
Purple Dead Nettle

This ground cover plant is known for its attractive purple foliage and small pink flowers. It’s a hardy plant that thrives in low-light outdoor spaces and can tolerate some sun.

Scientific Name: Lamium Purpureum
Growth Rate: Fast
Native Range: Europe, western Asia, northern Africa
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 3-8
Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
Tolerate: Deer-resistant
Fertilizing Needs: Fertilize in early spring with a balanced fertilizer
Pruning Needs: Pinch back tips of young plants to promote branching and fuller growth
Purple Dead Nettle Growing Guide

7. Foamflower (Tiarella Cordifolia)

Foamflower
Foamflower

A low-growing perennial with heart-shaped leaves and delicate white or pink flowers, Foamflower is perfect for shaded outdoor areas. It’s a great ground cover plant and can add a touch of elegance to any garden.

This plant has heart-shaped and deeply lobed leaves with a dark green color that turns to shades of red, bronze, and orange in the fall.

The leaves are also slightly fuzzy, giving them a soft, velvety texture.

In the spring, foamflower produces tall, slender stalks with clusters of small, white, or pink flowers. These flowers resemble foam or froth, hence the name of the plant.

Scientific Name: Tiarella Cordifolia
Growth Rate: Moderate
Native Range: North America
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 4-9
Exposure: Partial to full shade
Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
Tolerate: Deer, rabbit
Fertilizing Needs: Light feeding with a natural fertilizer in spring
Pruning Needs: Deadheading spent flowers
Foamflower Growing Guide

8. Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Coral Bells 2
Coral Bells

Coral Bells is a low-light plant that adds texture and color to any garden with its unique foliage in shades of purple, pink, and silver.

It’s a versatile plant that can be used as a ground cover. However, you can also grow it in containers. This plant needs minimal maintenance, so it’s popular among gardeners.

It can thrive in various growing conditions. It also prefers well-drained soil and moderate moisture but can tolerate some drought.

Scientific Name: Heuchera
Growth Rate: Moderate
Native Range: North America
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 3-8
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Soil Needs: Well-drained, fertile soil
Tolerate: Deer, drought
Fertilizing Needs: Light feeding with a balanced fertilizer in spring
Pruning Needs: Remove damaged leaves and spent flower stalks
Coral Bells Growing Guide

9. Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia Virginica)

Virginia Bluebells
Virginia Bluebells

A beautiful, early-blooming plant with clusters of blue, trumpet-shaped flowers, Virginia Bluebells is an ideal choice for low-light outdoor spaces.

It’s a hardy plant that can tolerate various soil conditions, making it easy to maintain.

This plant is important for pollinators; they’re attracted to their nectar. It’s also valued as an ornamental plant in gardens and is often used in woodland or shade gardens to add a pop of color in the early spring.

Virginia Bluebells can be grown from seed or transplanted from established plants.

They’re generally low maintenance but benefit from regular watering in dry periods and deadheading to promote more blooms.

Scientific Name: Mertensia Virginica
Growth Rate: Moderate
Native Range: Eastern North America
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 3-8
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
Tolerate: Deer
Fertilizing Needs: Light feeding with a balanced fertilizer in early spring
Pruning Needs: Cut back spent flower stalks after blooming
Virginia Bluebell Growing Guide

10. Lady Fern (Athyrium Filix-Femina)

Lady Fern
Lady Fern

Lady Fern is a favorite among gardeners, a low-light outdoor plant with delicate fronds and a soft, feathery texture.

It’s a hardy plant that can tolerate some sun, making it a versatile choice for any garden.

Lady Fern is a deciduous fern native to temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. It can tolerate low light and moist soil. It’s also deer-resistant and can be used in naturalized woodland gardens, shady borders, or as a ground cover.

Scientific Name: Athyrium Filix-Femina
Growth Rate: Moderate
Native Range: Europe, Asia, and North America
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 3-8
Exposure: Shade to part shade
Soil Needs: Moist, rich soil
Tolerate: Deer
Fertilizing Needs: Light feeding with a balanced fertilizer in early spring
Pruning Needs: Cut back damaged fronds in early spring
Lady Fern Growing Guide

11. Flowering Dogwood (Cornusflorida)

Flowering Dogwood
Flowering Dogwood

A beautiful, low-light outdoor tree with showy pink or white flowers, the Flowering Dogwood is a staple in many gardens. It’s a hardy tree that can thrive in various soil conditions and is a great addition to any landscape.

The showy flowers of the flowering dogwood appear in early spring.

The flowering dogwood prefers well-drained soil and partial shade but can tolerate full sun with adequate moisture.

It’s great for small landscapes, woodland gardens, and naturalized areas.

Scientific Name: Cornus Florida
Growth Rate: Slow
Native Range: Eastern North America
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 5-9
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
Tolerate: Deer, drought
Fertilizing Needs: Light feeding with a balanced fertilizer in early spring
Pruning Needs: Prune in late winter to early spring to shape and remove diseased or damaged wood
Flowering Dogwood Growing Guide

12. Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus Harringtonia)

japanese plum yew
Japanese Plum Yew

The Japanese Plum Yew is a beautiful, unique plant, a low-light evergreen with soft, needle-like foliage. It’s a slow-growing tree that can tolerate various soil conditions and is a great choice for shaded outdoor areas.

The plant has separate male and female plants. The male plants produce small, yellow flowers in the spring, while the females produce small, round, blue-black fruit in the fall.

Japanese plum yew is a popular landscaping plant because it’s lovely, can grow in full sun to partial shade, and is tolerant of various soil conditions. It’s also resistant to deer and other pests.

The plant is often used in hedges, as a ground cover, or in woodland gardens.

Scientific Name: Cephalotaxus Harringtonia
Growth Rate: Slow to moderate
Native Range: Japan, China, Korea
Hardiness Range: USDA zones 6-9
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Soil Needs: Well-drained, slightly acidic soil
Tolerate: Deer, shade, pollution
Fertilizing Needs: Light feeding with a slow-release fertilizer in spring
Pruning Needs: Prune in late winter to early spring to shape and remove dead or damaged wood
Japanese Plum Yew Growing Guide

Final Thoughts

Low-light plants can be great if you have a shady yard or want to add interest to a dark corner of your outdoor space.

From the delicate blooms of Bleeding Heart to the vibrant foliage of Coral Bells, you can plant a wide range of low-light outdoor plants.

By selecting plants that are well-suited to your conditions and providing proper care, you can create a lush and inviting garden that thrives even in low-light conditions.



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