Plants to Use in Shady Areas

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Planting in shady areas can be challenging, but numerous plants thrive in low-light conditions. In Massachusetts, where the climate can vary, especially in terms of temperature and soil types, it’s important to select plants that are well-suited for the specific conditions of your shady site. Here are some recommendations for plants that are well-adapted to tough, shady sites in Massachusetts


Astilbe (Astilbes chinensis)

are known for their feathery plumes of flowers and can tolerate consistently moist soils.

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Hosta’s are known for their lush, attractive foliage and come in a variety of sizes and colors. They are well-suited for shaded areas.

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Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

This spring-blooming perennial has distinctive heart-shaped flowers and thrives in shaded areas.




Rhododendrons are evergreen shrubs that produce large clusters of vibrant flowers. They prefer partial to full shade and acidic soil.

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Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica)

This evergreen shrub features cascading clusters of flowers and does well in partial to full shade.

Pieris For Web

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Oakleaf hydrangea offers large, showy blooms and attractive foliage, thriving in partial shade.

0003230 Gatsby Pink Oakleaf Hydrangea


Lamium (Dead Nettle)

Lamium is a low-growing ground cover with variegated foliage that brightens up shady areas.

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Pachysandra is an excellent ground cover that forms a dense mat, suppressing weeds and providing greenery in shaded spots.

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Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Ostrich ferns have a distinctive feathery appearance and are well-suited for shaded, moist areas.

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Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

This evergreen fern is well-adapted to shady conditions and retains its green color throughout the winter.

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Native Plants

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)

Wild ginger is a native groundcover with heart-shaped leaves that thrive in the shade.

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Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)

Foamflower produces delicate, frothy flower spikes and is native to woodland areas.

Tiarella Cordifolia

When planting in shady areas, consider the specific light levels (partial shade, full shade) and soil conditions of your site. Additionally, providing organic matter in the form of compost can improve soil fertility and structure. Watering appropriately and mulching around plants will help retain soil moisture. Always consider the mature size of the plants to ensure they fit the available space. Consulting with local nurseries or gardening experts can provide additional guidance based on the specific characteristics of your site in Massachusetts.