One of the most important factors to understand before picking plants for your landscape is knowing the area’s exposure. Exposure is the amount of sun or shade an area receives throughout the day. It’s important to understand the exposure of an area you’re going to start planting in, as that will help you determine which plants will thrive in that environment and exposure level. To determine the exposure in an area in the garden, take out a notebook and spend a few days throughout the summer keeping track of how much sun or shade your garden receives throughout the day. If your garden receives at least six hours of direct sunlight every day, it is considered a full sun garden. If your garden spot received less than three hours of direct sunlight, that area is considered a full shade garden. If the site gets between three and six hours of sun, that area is called a part sun/part shade garden.
If you’re working with a shade garden, it’s important to pick the best plants for that exposure. Each plant variety has specific conditions in which they thrive, like Hardiness Zone, soil type, and of course, exposure. So, when looking for plants online or at your local garden center, make sure to look for the words “Shade” or “Part Shade” under the exposure information for that plant.
The First Editions® Shrubs & Trees collection is full of shade-loving plants that are sure to make those shady spots shine! Browse through our plant page to find the best plants for your shade garden. But, if you need a place to start, we’ve compiled just a few of those shade-loving plants with tips on how to use them in the garden.
If you’re working with a full shade garden in a warm climate, Pink Frost Florida Anise Tree is a perfect choice. This shrub is rated for Zones 7-9 and grows to a height and width of 6-10 feet. Pink Frost has gorgeous green and white leaves that are accented by maroon-red flowers in the spring. When the cooler temps arrive, the leaves turn a beautiful pink-rose color.
New to First Editions™ in 2022, Vanilla Brandy™ is a lovely multi-season interest plant that likes full sun to part shade. This shrub features green leaves with white margins. In the spring, white fragrant flowers bloom. In the fall, the leaves turn rosy pink. At 2-3 feet tall and wide, Vanilla Brandy™ is an excellent plant for small space gardens or decorative containers for patios or decks. Watch our episode of Garden Gab™ dedicated to the new First Editions® for 2022 to learn more about Vanilla Brandy™.
Resistant to disease, tolerant of drought, heat, and wet soil, Vintage Jade is a true powerhouse in the garden. Rated for Zones 7-9 and growing to a height of 3-4 feet and width of 4-5 feet, this is a great option for mass planting to cover a large swath of ground. Like all of the distylium in First Editions®, Vintage Jade is a great evergreen option for those partly shady spots. Browse through the First Editions® distylium collection to learn more about each variety and pick the perfect one for your space.
Deer resistant and evergreen, Double Mint Gardenia is an ideal part shade garden plant for Zones 7-9. In the spring and again in the summer, fragrant white flowers bloom and produce a lovely fragrance. This shrub grows to just 2.5-3 feet tall and wide, making it a stunning small space garden or container option. It’s not just Double Mint, but all the gardenia in First Editions® that are great options for part shade garden spaces.
There’s nothing quite like Tianshan®. Growing to a height of 8-12 feet and width of 5-7 feet, Rated for Zones 5-9, Tianshan® can be planted in full sun or part shade. Multi-season interest makes this plant a true standout, with white flowers blooming in summer, red fruits appearing in fall, and exfoliating bark in the winter. This stunner is a great informal hedge or focal point in a shady spot that has some space.
Vanilla Strawberry™, like many panicle hydrangeas, prefers morning sun and afternoon shade. So, if you have a space in your Zone 3-8 garden with that exposure, think Vanilla Strawberry™! This panicle hydrangea grows to 6-7 feet tall and 5-6 feet wide, making it a great hedge option. And those panicle blooms that start white and age to a lovely strawberry pink are something else! Check out all of the panicle hydrangeas in First Editions® for more options for your partly shady garden spot. There are many reasons to have panicle hydrangeas in your partly shady garden spot, but one that cannot go unmentioned is the opportunity for cut flowers. Whether cut for arrangements or for dry arrangements, panicle hydrangeas like Vanilla Strawberry™ add extra fun to the garden.