Flower gardening is always easiest when you have plenty of sun to work with, but this is not always possible.
Especially in small landscapes or urban environments where homes are closely positioned, a deck or patio often experiences shade or semi-shade conditions that call for container gardening with plants suited for such environments.
Most plants described as shade lovers actually are suitable for “part sun” locations. They will tolerate shade for most of the daylight hours, but they need some amount of sunlight each day in order to thrive.
What is Partial Shade?
“Part shade” is defined by horticulturists as a location that offers 2 to 4 hours of direct sunlight each day. Plants rated for “full shade” or “deep shade” is the only ones recognized to thrive with the complete absence of sunlight.
There are relatively few of these plants, but several are mentioned here. As for “part-shade” plants, if no direct sunlight is possible, try to provide them with a good amount of filtered sunlight, such as that found under the canopy of tall trees.
Containers are normally planted with annual flowers planted anew each season, but there are also some perennials that work well in container gardens. Pots, tubs, and half containers overflowing with flowers add appeal to any garden, but container gardening can serve a practical purpose too.
Container gardening is ideal for those with little or no garden space. In addition to growing flowers, gardeners limited to a balcony, small yard, or only a patch of sun on their driveway can produce a wide variety of vegetable crops in containers.
Basil, chives, thyme, and other herbs also are quite happy growing in pots, which can be set in a convenient spot right outside the kitchen door.
Here are the top 10 container plants that grow well in partial sun:
Coleus is ideal for containers, hanging baskets and window boxes. one of the best-known of all shade plants, for good reason—almost everyone recognizes this plant when they see it. This is a plant grown for its unique and interesting leaf colors rather than its blooms.
Coleus is one of the few plants that genuinely thrive in partial sun. If you think of coleus as old-fashioned, it is worth another look, since new colors and leaf forms are being developed all the time. Some new varieties now thrive even in full sun.
The colors of coleus are often so intense and complicated that you have to be a little careful when mixing them with other plants. Have some fun and try improbable color combinations—sometimes they work beautifully. Or plant them alone as specimen plants.
Formerly categorized as Coleus blumei, this plant now carries the official name of Plectranthus scutellarioides.
Begonias add bright color and a tropical look to patios, entryways and porches with their showy, often ruffled, flowers and lush foliage. Ideal for containers, hanging baskets and window boxes, these easy-care plants grow best in the shade or partial sun.
Because of their long flower season and full foliage, begonias shine as container plants. Begonia plants fill and even spill over containers.
With more than 1,800 species in the genus, categorized in several broad groups, there are literally hundreds of begonias for gardeners to choose from.
For container gardens, the most popular are the tuberous or rhizomatous begonias with their neon-bright flowers; or Rex Begonias, which have leaf colors, shapes, and textures that can border on the psychedelic
When selecting begonias, make sure to note their height and spread. This helps you determine what containers to plant them in or how many you’ll need for window boxes or flower beds.
Some gardeners will plant a single begonia tuber in a decorative container, while others fill window boxes with several begonias.
If you are planning to plant begonias in hanging baskets or window boxes, or desire a begonia that spills over the container’s edge, choose one of our hanging basket begonia varieties.
With arching stems and delicate leaves, ferns are a must for figuring lush texture to the shade garden. Most ferns spread slowly, so they are a popular choice for planting under trees or for filling other large shady areas of the garden.
But their upright form and lacy fronds make an incredible addition to your shade containers. If you need some fresh ideas for your container gardens, try using ferns in your shade containers!
The medium-sized leaves of the red coleus form a focal point that’s set off by the finer textures of the fern, the creeping Jenny and the trailing coleus. The large leaves of the elephant ear, as well as the bulk of the dark, solid container, keep the overall effect from being too “busy” and messy.
Many ferns tolerate partial sunlight but do best in shade. For example, Japanese holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum ‘Rochfordianum’), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10, is a shade-loving fern with deep green, holly-like fronds measuring as long as 30 inches.
4. Bleeding Heart
Bleeding heart is an old-fashioned plant with heart-shaped blooms that dangle gracefully from leafless, drooping stems.
Bleeding heart, which grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, is a wonderful choice for a semi-shady spot in your garden. Although bleeding heart is a woodland plant, growing bleeding heart in a container is definitely possible.
In fact, container-grown bleeding heart will thrive as long as you provide the proper growing conditions.A large container is best for bleeding heart container growing, as bleeding heart is a relatively large plant at maturity.
Place the container where the bleeding heart plant is exposed to light shade or dappled or partial sunlight.
Fuchsias are readily identifiable by their drooping, brightly colored flowers that bloom virtually all season. The trailing habit makes this an excellent flowering plant for hanging baskets. There are more than 100 species in the Fuchsia genus, all of which do well in partial sun conditions.
The reputation for fussiness is not really deserved, since fuschias plants can be quite easy to grow under the right conditions, though they do require lots of water and fertilizer.
Fuchsias are classic in hanging baskets, but can also look awesome in mixed containers. They look great paired with either complementary or contrasting colors
6. Persian Shield
Persian shield is a gorgeous foliage plant—a broadleaf evergreen perennial that generally is used as an annual.The plant does well in a container inside or outside, in partial shade.
The best way to give extra humidity to a Persian shield indoors is to place a thin layer of rocks in a saucer and balance the pot on top. Keep the saucer full of water. This keeps the roots out of the water but the evaporation of the water provides higher humidity to the air.
With blooms that combine purple and silver, it stands out in any container, where it serves a classic thriller plant, towering up to 3 feet high.
Exceptionally easy to grow, Persian shield will add an exotic touch to your containers, as it is unusual and may be hard to find at garden centers. Buy it early, because it often will sell out. While Persian shield prefers a little bit of sun, you can easily grow it in part shade.
Some pinching back of the stems will help keep it bushy and full
Oxalis is another large genus of plants which includes several species that are good performers for shady containers. Some species commonly used in containers include Oxalis versicolor, O. compressus, O. triangularis, and O. tetraphylla.
Flower colors include white, peach, yellow, pink, and bicolor; some varieties (such as O. tetraphyalla) are grown mostly for their foliage. Easily grown in well-drained soils in part sun . Provide occasional to regular irrigation and avoid overwatering during the dormant
These plants have delicate shamrock-shaped leaves and tubular flowers that open and close as light exposure changes. This is an easy-to-grow plant that plays well with others or looks good all by itself in a beautiful pot.
The flowers are pretty, but this plant is all about color and texture. It looks lovely combined with Fuchsia or Torenia. If in partial shade, it also looks great planted with Bacopa.
Dichondra is a creeping, trailing evergreen perennial plant in warm climates, but it is commonly used as trailing spiller plant in containers. It is generally grown for its foliage, not its flowers. One popular cultivar,’Silver Falls’, has shimmering silvery foliage and stems.
Dichondra grows only about 4 inches high but sends out shoots up to 4 feet long, making it ideal for hanging baskets, tall containers, and window boxes. Plant it at the container’s edge, where it will take up little soil space as it spills over the rim.
Plant at least three dichondra plants side-by-side to prevent a thin, scraggly appearance. Although a sun-lover, this plant tolerates partial shade and works well if it gets just an hour or two of sun each day.
9. Creeping Jenny
Not all container plants need to be flowering plants. Creeping Jenny is a mat-forming perennial with round lime-green leaves that works well in tall containers or hanging baskets. It grows only 4 to 8 inches tall but sends out in shoots up to 2 feet long.
It is a perfect spiller plant for the outside edges of containers or hanging baskets, where the light-green foliage can brighten shady areas. The pretty, hardy creeping jenny plant can do well in partial sun.This perennial plant is actually better suited for containers since it can be invasive if planted in the garden.
Lobelia is a very large genus of plants, with many species . The trailing version (Lobelia erinus var. pendula) is an ideal plant for shady containers. L. erinus is commonly known as “edging lobelia,” and the pendula variation puts out long, cascading shoots that are ideal in hanging baskets and pots.
Lobelia can be grown in partial sun.Lobelia trails beautifully from a hanging basket. The shape of lobelia makes it an excellent container plant.
Depending on the variety it can make a mounding border, or it can spill and trail over the edges. The trailing varieties are especially ideal for window boxes and hanging baskets
Trailing varieties work wonderfully as part of a rock garden or tumbling over the sides of a planter or container. Some cultivars of L. erinus are sold as “edging lobelia,” as opposed to “trailing lobelia,” and have a more upright habit of growth.
They’ll reach up to 9 inches in height and spread to about a foot, while trailing varieties are about half as high but can spread more.
Use trailing lobelia beneath taller plants to fill up a planter or hanging basket, and use edging lobelia to fill in spaces between perennials or taller annuals.
The trailing and edging varieties are similar in appearance, so you can combine them in the same spaces to create a fuller appearance.
Growing plants in containers isn’t significantly as easy as it looks. While plunking a plant into a pot seems pretty simple, making sure that plant thrives can sometimes be a complicated affair.
What kind of soil is best for the plant? How much water does it require? Where’s the best place to put the pot after it’s planted? Does the plant need to be fed? If so, how often?
To simplify all of the tasks involved in growing in containers, we’ve compiled this container gardening tip list that runs from the start of the season all the way to the end, giving you all the advice you need to grow a successful container garden wherever you live.
Several types of containers can be utilized for growing vegetables, including polyethylene plastic bags, clay pots, plastic pots, metallic pots, milk jugs, ice cream containers, bushel baskets, barrels, and planter boxes.
Thick wood containers provide great water retention, but old crates or twig-constructed containers, like this one, require to be lined with a water-resistant material before loading with soil.
Burlap gives an eye-pleasing, rustic appearance but line it with plastic to help it last through the growing season. Remember to puncture the bottom of your plastic liner with a few drainage holes.