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5 Outdoor Plants That Don’t Need Sunlight to Survive, According to Plant Pros

You can still create an outdoor plant oasis in the shade


If you’re thinking about turning your yard or lawn into a plant oasis, but have a lot of trees or shady areas, then you may want to consider outdoor plants that don’t need sunlight. That’s right! Not all greenery requires sunshine to survive or thrive. Many plants actually do better in cooler areas protected from the heat of direct sun. Plus, these plants are pretty, will brighten up any space, and are relatively easy to nurture – even if you don’t have a green thumb. Here, plant experts share some outdoor plants that don’t need sunlight and how to take care of them.

Outdoor plants that don’t need sunlight: Hostas

Hostas are shade-loving plants that come in a variety of shapes sizes and colors. They’re a popular choice thanks to their low maintenance.

Hosta Frances Williams Shrub

Outdoor plants that don't need sunlight: hostas

The “Hosta Frances Williams shrub is known for its large, heart-shaped, blue-green leaves with golden-yellow margins, creating a bold and eye-catching display in shaded garden areas,” says Alex Kantor, owner of Perfect Plants Nursery. It’s a commonly found plant and most nurseries are likely to have it. This plant does need to be watered regularly in addition and it should be planted in well-draining soil.

Hosta Halcyon Shrub

This Hosta variation is similar to the above, however, this one has blue-green leaves and lilac flowers when it blooms in the late summer months. It also requires minimal care but needs consistent watering. “Overall, these plants are recommended for their unique visual appeal, ease of care, and availability, making them great choices for gardeners looking to add variety and beauty to their landscapes,” says Kantor.

Related: 5 Plants That Repel Mosquitoes From Your Yard, According to Garden Pros

Outdoor plants that don’t need sunlight: Hydrangeas

Outdoor plants that don't need sunlight: Hydrangeas

While all the green from plants is great, why not add in some color with a pretty flower like hydrangeas? According to Sally Allsop Founder of All That Grows, most varieties of the flower will thrive in the shadier parts of a garden. You can get specific types that are more suited to lower light conditions. Her advice: “Look carefully when selecting your plants at the garden center.”

These flowers do best in well-draining soil that’s full of organic matter. “You can add compost or aged bark to help improve drainage and the soil content in your shady spot,” says Allsop. Typically, hydrangeas planted in the shade don’t need as much water, but you don’t want them to dry out either. Allsop says to check the soil on a regular basis and “water when the top few inches of your soil begin to feel dry.”

Outdoor plants that don’t need sunlight: Lady Fern

The Lady Fern is a great addition to any shady garden. “They add texture and greenery with very little upkeep,” says Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal. He adds that these are found all over the U.S and simply require watering and the occasional fertilization.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Lady Fern has its best growth in partially shaded areas with rich soil. When it flourishes, it can get up to five feet tall and will have bright green leaves with a lacy texture.

Related: Garden Pros: Attract Butterflies to Your Yard with These Easy-Care Flowers

Outdoor plants that don’t need sunlight: Impatiens

Impatiens, also known as Busy lizzies are a popular flower choice for shaded areas in a garden or yard. “Despite their delicate appearance, these vibrant flowers will thrive in areas of your garden that don’t get direct sunlight,” says Allsop. They’re perfect under trees or on a shaded side of a building if you’re planting in a city rather than a yard.

When choosing your flowers, Allsop notes that you should look for “varieties that are specifically bred for low-light environments.” Ultimately, the blooms will be larger on those and the growth habits are better. Impatiens also need proper soil and constant watering to last longer.

For more gardening tips, keep reading!

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