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Growing potted plants is easy in theory; they mostly just need water and sunlight. But what happens if you don’t have enough sun? Here’s the best plants for a shady porch, or any place you want potted plants that doesn’t get good sunlight.
Best Plants for a Shady Porch
Whether it’s indoors or outside, plants brighten your mood. They’re also super in right now, so why not jump on the bandwagon? The problem is a lot of people have porches or balconies that they want to add a few plants to, but don’t because there’s shade.
Typically, porches are designed to have an overhang that provides shade – this is a feature, not a bug. But did you know that there are plants out there that thrive in the shade too?
Think about nature for a minute. Imagine a forest – you’ll probably think of miles and miles of trees. But this is only a portion of any forest’s ecosystem. So many animals, and yes, plants live on the ground under the shade of all those trees.
Can Plants Survive in Full Shade?
If you have a porch that gets absolutely no sunlight then you might have a hard time growing any kind of plants. Although all of the plants on this list need minimal sunlight, they still do need sun exposure from time to time.
Morning sun is preferred, since many shade-loving plants will get sunburned or damaged in full afternoon sun exposure. Especially in warmer climates.
For porches with 0 sun, choose potted plants that you can bring to another location in your garden to give them a few hours of mild sunlight – then move them back to the shady porch for the rest of the day.
Or opt for artificial plants – they’re looking better and better every day!
If you live somewhere that gets a lot of heat then you definitely should be growing succulents. They’re super pretty, and really easy to care for too. Of course, there are a wide variety of succulents out there – and growing them in almost any North American climate is possible depending on the variety you choose.
Succulents do need some sunlight, though. If you see that yours are sagging or refusing to flower, move the pot into an area that gets some morning sun (not scorching heat).
One of my favourite plants (because they have such full blooms) hydrangeas range in colour from pink to blue – and everything in between. The colour of the blooms is actually determined by the PH balance of the soil, which is something that’s a lot easier to manage if they’re growing in a pot.
The further north you live the more sun a hydrangea can tolerate, but as a rule keep them out of sun during the hottest parts of the day.
While it’s usually used in landscaping, boxwood also adds some nice greenery when potted too. They prefer partial shade over full sun, which makes them a great choice if you get some sunlight on your porch but not all day.
Boxwood is also a perennial, which means it will come back each year. The biggest drawback to boxwood is that it’s toxic to pets and humans, so keep it away from your animals and tots.
Most plants need good sun exposure to flower but fuschias actually do best in partial to full shade. The sun actually scratches them, so try and keep sun exposure to cooler parts of the day (like the morning.)
There are quite a few varieties of this flower so you’ll have to do a bit of research for your area. What’s nice is that you can grow them almost anywhere. In warmer climates they come back every year, but in cooler climates they act more like an annual.
Hosta is beautiful foliage on its own, or as an addition to your shaded containers. Although it doesn’t flower, hosta comes in a variety of colours that make it stand out. What’s more, hosta plants can be grown in almost any zone (3-9) and they need partial shade to thrive.
These beautiful flowers can be a bit fickle (they’re prone to disease) but the payoff is worth it. Plant them in containers with well draining soil and make sure they’re watered regularly. There are varieties that do better with more sun or shade, so definitely look out for that when choosing impatiens plans for your shady porch.
Begonias grow steadily in warm growing zones (like 8 to 10) and can be planted as an annual in cooler climates. They’re very sensitive to the cold, so make sure your shaded porch isn’t too cool before planting these beautiful flowers.
They do need 4-6 hours of sunlight a day, preferably either the morning sun or filtered sunlight. The payoff is worth it for these colourful, large bloomed flowers though.
Ivy is a pretty addition to flower pots when you need some extra greenery. It’s hardy, and does well in a variety of conditions including partial sun and shade.
Just be careful with it – ivy can easily get out of hand and start climbing places you don’t want it to go. Kept inside a pot, though, ivy is easy to maintain.
Caladium, also known as elephant’s ear, is great for shaded areas and doesn’t need too much sun to thrive. The oversized leaves grow in beautiful shades of pinks, white, and green.
Unfortunately caladium plants don’t love cooler climates so they do best in areas that are warm year round. That being said, they can also be kept indoors – so you can always raise them as a houseplant during the cooler months of the year.
It should be noted that caladium is toxic to dogs and cats.
Like ivy, creeping jenny is best kept inside containers or else it can invade other areas of your yard. Typically called a “spiller”, it adds low foliage to a container. Or grow it on its own for some extra greenery on your shady porch.
Speaking of shade, creeping jenny is a very hardy plant that will likely thrive in almost any environment you plant it in.
Although they do need some sunlight, pansies prefer partially shaded locations and slightly cooler temperatures. Meaning they’re a great fit for a porch that sees some morning or filtered sunlight but otherwise stays cool most of the day.
Pansies are common, inexpensive, and easy to care for. They come in a variety of colours, too, so they’re a great addition to your porch on their own or part of a container.
Although it’s not as ornamental as these other plants and flowers, lettuce is a great plant to grow on a shady porch. It grows well in small pots or containers, and situating your lettuce on the porch makes it convenient to grab for lunch or dinner.
Lettuce won’t grow properly if it gets too harsh of sunlight, but it does like 4-6 hours of light per day. One good thing about lettuce, though, is that even if it doesn’t get that it will still grow – just not as well.
Most other salad greens grow the same, too.
Like lettuce, chives are a great easy to grow edible plant that’s perfect for a shady porch. Not only are they delicious, they also flower quite beautifully if you leave them alone. Chives like some sun but grow fine in shady areas too.
Chives are so hardy that I happen to have a rogue patch that grows up each year in my yard (outside of my flower beds, no less!) despite never maintaining it. This can only happen if you let them go to seed (flower), but it’s handy if you want them to come up each year.
If you’re looking for the best tall plants for a shady porch, ornamental grass has you covered. There are so many varieties out there that grow well in containers and thrive in different levels of sunlight. They make a great addition to your arrangements, but also look great solo too.
If you live somewhere that experiences all four seasons there are ornamental grasses that change colour in the fall and really look spectacular on the porch all year ‘round.
More Tips For Choosing The Best Plants for a Shady Porch
This list includes some of the more popular varieties of plants that work best for a shady porch, but it’s hardly conclusive. There are almost 400,000 varieties of plants out there, and more are discovered each year.
With all those choices you can definitely find the one with the perfect color, size, and sunlight preference for your porch, deck, or balcony. That being said, all of these plant options are a good starting point because most of them grow in a variety of climates and available light.