Seven Best Plants For The Shade


If your yard is blessed with tons of coverage, here are our seven best plants for the shade that are sure to turn your garden into a tropical wonderland. 

Generally speaking and with very few exceptions, all land based plants need sunlight in order to survive. However, more sun does not always translate to an easier survival rate for a plant – too much direct sunlight can have plants facing desiccation and exposure to dangerous amounts of UV rays. The plant must then expend energy producing pigments to block UV light, and waxy coatings to prevent water loss. 

In contrast, plants that have adapted to shady conditions have the ability to use far red light more effectively than plants used to full sunlight. Most red light gets absorbed by the sun tolerant canopy plants, while the same also penetrates the understorey. The shade tolerant plants found at the bottom are capable of photosynthesis using light at these wavelengths. 

Shade tolerant plants have thus adapted to being more energy efficient. These plants grow broader, thinner leaves in order to catch more sunlight relative to the cost of producing the leaf, and more or less “make the most” of the soil nutrients available to them. 

Seven Best Plants For The Shade To Try 

When it comes to the residents of your own garden, plants that are not shade tolerant will eventually lose their colour, wither and die without sunlight. However, the good news is that it’s simply a matter of changing tactics when it comes to the type of plants that you introduce – so what are the best plants for the shade?

Devil’s Ivy – The Pothos plant, or devil’s ivy, has long been considered to be the perfect beginner’s plant thanks to its hardiness and low maintenance growth patterns. Try them indoors, outside, in pots, hanging baskets or even in vases of water – they’re sure to thrive either way. Just be wary in the northern states as they can become a garden escapee. 

Birds Nest Fern – If you prefer natives, the beautiful Birds Nest Fern is actually “local” to Australia’s East Coast, and can be spotted from Cape York all the way down to the south coast of New South Wales. With it’s striking upright vase shape, it provides a great focal point. 

ZZ Plants – Also known as the Zanzibar Gem, plant stems grow in a graceful, wand-like shape that starts thick and bulbous at the base and then tapers to a point. Along the stem are fleshy, oval-shaped leaves that make the plant look like stylized feathers. 

Rhapis Palm – Rhapis excelsa, also known as broadleaf lady palm or bamboo palm, is a species of fan palm thought to be native to southern China and Taiwan. As a slow growing multi-stemmed palm with large fan shaped leaves, it can grow as big as three to four metres. 

Bromeliads – Bromeliads are epiphytic, meaning they grow on another plant for support, so are often found growing in trees or on stumps. They will also happily grow in the garden or in pots, as long as you use well-drained or free-draining soil that’s enriched with organic matter.

Elephant Ears – Also known as Alocasia, the most recognised forms have heart or arrow shaped leaves (often oversized) with decorative veining, inspiring the common name elephant ears. Preferring a warmer and humid environment, try them either indoors or outside. 

Philodendron – With over 489 different varieties of philodendron plants recognised worldwide, climbing and non climbing varieties are available depending on your location and preference. Notoriously easy to grow, take care that they don’t “take over” the designated area in your yard. 

Sourcing Indoor Plants

To discover more shade-loving plants, you can browse a complete range of indoor plants online at Cheeky Plant Co., an online plant shop that delivers houseplants and succulents across NSW, ACT, VIC, QLD and SA.

Sourcing Further Advice On The Best Plants For Shade 

Whether you’re on the hunt for more tips with how to start gardening more efficiently at home, or further insights regarding an alternative for chemical based plant food, fertilisers or weed killers – it’s always worth speaking to the professionals. 

Here at Bioweed, we specialise in environmentally friendly gardening products, including organically certified herbicides, plant probiotics, and natural alternatives to traditional gardening solutions. Should you have any questions about how to improve the sustainability of your home, garden or agricultural crop, get in touch with us today.