Wednesday, May 14

Best plants for a shady porch

One of our favorite rooms in this house isn't really IN this house at all.  It's the front porch, which we use as an outdoor living room.  Summers in North Carolina are hot, but we're blessed to have a porch that's tucked into a cool, shady spot.

There's just one problem with shade: how do you get plants to grow there?  Of all places, a front porch must have some greenery!

Every time I've asked this question at a garden center, I've gotten the same answer: impatiens.  Right, right.  We all know that impatiens will grow in the shade.  But is there anything else?  I'm glad you asked!

Here are some of my favorite plants for a shady porch.

Hosta.  Yes, I know, most people plant hosta in the ground, where it comes back year after year.  But a single hosta plant will grow quite well in a container, and this plant thrives in the shade.  Tuck a little moss around the base of the plant for a finished look.

Ivy.  Ivy loves the sun, but it will grow just fine in the shade.  I usually purchase the tiniest plants available and plant two or more of them in my planters.  I love the way the tendrils cascade over the sides.  Bonus: ivy can survive the winter, so you can have green all year round.

Here's another idea.  Remember, plants need light, but they can do well with artificial light as well as sunlight.   I have lamps on my front porch, and the ivy plant under the lamp does especially well.

Coleus.  Of all shade-loving plants, I think coleus is the best.  I just planted the coleus in these planters, and it's already lush and full.  Coleus is wonderful because it comes in many shades of green, pink, and purple--I like to mix varieties.  This plant is a shade-loving winner!  Do note that coleus does not like cold weather.  Don't plant it outside until the danger of freezing is past.  Coleus will last all through the summer and until the first freezing temperatures of the autumn.

Growing plants in containers is easy and rewarding.  Just remember to water as needed (more often in hot weather).  For added lushness, add some Miracle-Gro to the water every now and then.

If you need some beautiful pots for your porch, did you know you can created your own "aged" pots? Click here for an easy tutorial!

Did you know that you can easily give clay pots a beautiful, "aged" patina? Here's how to do it!

If you'd like to see more of my "outdoor living room," click here.

Do you have a covered porch?  What are your favorite plants?


  1. Your plants are beautiful. I love mom alway shad them and this spring I planted some in pots with my impatiens on my shady porch. The cold snap that we had (right after I planted them, no less) killed them I think. I even had them covered. So...I learned that coleus also don't like to be cold!

  2. awesome. thanks for the tips ... although I may have to wait until Sept to buy them since we'll be away on vacation for two weeks. they'll die of dehydration :)

  3. Coleus is wonderful, isn't it? It does so well in the shade. Another one of my favorite shade loving plants is begonias. The green leaf ones do especially well in the shade. Mine come back year after year, even if we get a freeze. Your porch looks like the perfect spot to sit for a spell and relax with some sweet tea. :)

  4. I love the same plants as you, Richella. I've found that caldiums and impatiens do well under our covered patio. I also love using ivy under the shade trees, along with hostas. Begonias do well, too!


  5. I think you know I recently moved/nov. This is gets the sun exactly opposite of my other home so I need something for my front area that will thrive with only a few hours of the morning sun. By 11:30am is almost completely shaded. this post and your advice was wonderful for me.
    thank you

  6. Great post, I'm always on the look out for what plants like shade. I do have lots of hostas and I have them in pots everywhere. I love them because, even in pots, they will come back year after year.

  7. Richella, how did you know that I got some new clay pots yesterday and am going to get plants for our porch to put in them?? I am grateful that you wrote this timely post!!
    I would have never thought to plant hosts or coleus!
    Look out Lowes, here I come!!

  8. Richella I love shade gardening...especially in containers. I've had fabulous success with hosta too. Even in the north they winter over pretty well in their pots. I agree with Lisa that there are also stunning Begonias. I have used some with gorgeous purple leaves. I love going to the garden center and seeing what's new. Because I want to give a bit of brightness in the shade I always add a plant that has a silvery leaves, too. Your arrangement is lovely and is perfect for your spot.

  9. Thanks so much for hosting every week Richella!

  10. Hi Richella! I love that you shared this post at the garden party! You use many of my favorite plants. :)

  11. Richella, thanks for sharing. I have a lot of shade gardens beside my front porch. Happy spring!

  12. I love pots filled with shade plants, and yours are gorgeous! I laughed when you said that all the nurseries say is, impatiens. That is so true. Another perennial that is so pretty for shade and will do nicely in a pot is a Hellebore. I think you would enjoy one. Thanks for sharing with the Garden Party.

  13. I like different varieties of coleus. I love the stone on your porch! Very pretty!

    Linking from Poofing the Pillows,
    Ricki Jill


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I read every one; they make my day. If you have a specific question, please be sure your email address is attached to your profile or leave your email address in the comment; I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Every blessing!