Shade Loving Foliage Plants

Shade loving plants give any botanist the double pleasure of thriving both inside and outdoors. These versatile creatures are happy to decorate a tabletop, a patio, or a shady area in your garden. In fact, there are several which require very little tending at all.

Many gardeners enjoy flowering plants to liven up their living space. But there’s a wonderful variety of shade plants that offer beautiful, colorful leaves.

Let’s take a look at low-maintenance foliage plants that are easy to care for:

Coral Bells (heucheras) 

coral bellsThis popular plant is both drought and heat tolerant, making it a great candidate for the North Texas region. It needs infrequent watering, and is a great choice for dappled shade because it can handle partial sunlight.

Coral bells offer your home and garden a variety of multi-colored leaves that range from silver, burgundy, purple, and purple-black, to a brighter salmon, rust orange, and classic bright green. The foliage is textured- almost frilly along the edges sometimes, and can even be a bit serrated. When they do bloom (rarely), they produce tiny white flowers.

Japanese Forest Grass (hakonechloa) 

japanese forest grassThis is another plant that does well in partial sunlight, but will readily thrive in full shade. While it’s easy to care for, not all breeds of this grass are cold hardy. Keep that in mind if your region experiences hard winter freezes.

Japanese forest grass produces tall clumps of long, thin cascading blades that arch deeply, giving your landscape an eye-catching texture. What’s best about this grass is the lovely variation in color, producing blades that range from deep green to lime, and everything in between. In the autumn, they’ll often red, orange, and purple like the leaves on a tree.

Hippo Rose Polka Dot Plant

hippo roseYet another plant who’s happy in partial shade, this one is lovely for brightening up hedges and dinner tables alike. She’s happy both inside and out, with hearty tolerance to summer heat.

This plant offers you a bouquet of large and colorful leaves, ranging from bright pink, red, and salmon, to lime, deep green, and even purple. Best of all, no pruning is necessary to keep your Hippo Rose Polka-Dot plant healthy.

gryphon begonia

Gryphon Begonia (pegasus)

This is a notoriously hardy plant who will flourish in a variety of environments. Partial sun is fine, making this a great plant to set on your back deck, or in a pot against the window.

Gryphon begonias produce a deep green leaf, similar to the color of a ripe avocado, which often have veins of silver and maroon. It requires minimal pruning and very little water to thrive.


coleusThis annual plant is a member of the mint family, and it comes in several different varieties. Be sure you choose one that’s specifically marked a shade tolerant, as this is a trait shared by many coleus plants but not all of them.

Coleus often produces gorgeous foliage in colors of bronze, forest green, and maroon with bright green veins and borders Other varieties offer a salmon pink in the middle with bright green on the outside and darker green or maroon veins. No matter which you choose, this plant’s multicolored leaves give any flower a stiff competition for beauty.

Magilla Perilla

magilla perillaMildly sun tolerant, this beauty is a great choice both inside and out. She’s quite tolerant to both heat and cold, so long as she’s watered more often in extreme heat. While magilla perilla does great as a potted plant, be prepared for the fact that they can grow quite tall.

They produce a medium-sized teardrop leaves that are deep green or plum purple, with a lovely fuchsia spike in center. Younger leaves are often a lighter green with yellow-gold spikes, creating an attractive contrast as the plant matures.

Final Thoughts

All of these plants are low-maintenance and mildly sun tolerant, but they grow quite well in full shade.

  • Gryphon begonias, coleus, and magilla perilla do great as potted plants because their foliage tends to be a bit more compact.
  • Coral bells, hippo pink, and magilla perilla are wonderfully heat tolerant.
  • Your best bets for cold weather are Japanese forest grass, gryphon begonia, and (again) magilla perilla.
  • Many coleus varieties are shade loving, but not all are, so do your research before bringing one home.
  • Hippo rose and gryphon begonias are a fantastic choice for busy homeowners, as they require minimal to zero pruning.

If you’re in the market for a shade loving foliage plant that does great in any environment, these beauties are a fantastic choice. Though they rarely bloom, their vibrant foliage provides ample color and texture to your home, office, or back yard. Click here for more ideas on how to liven up your garden space with more than just flowers!


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