Whether you want to add a touch of the tropics to your space or have a shady spot that nothing seems to grow in, ferns and shade plants are what your garden has been waiting for. In their natural habitat, ferns and shade plants thrive under the dim, moist canopy of taller plants. From dainty potted ferns to majestic epiphytes to shade plants with big, bold and brilliantly-coloured foliage, shop our range of ferns and shade plants.
Ferns and shade plants
Find your perfect fern at Flower Power
Most gardens have a shady spot or a damp corner that nothing seems to grow in. If you're struggling with a lack of light and warmth in part or all of your garden, ferns and shade plants are what your garden has been waiting for.
In their natural habitat, ferns and shade plants thrive under the dim, moist canopy of taller plants. In the shady spots of your own garden, you can enjoy ferns and shade plants in every form from dainty potted ferns to majestic epiphytes to flowering plants for shade with big, bold and brilliantly-coloured foliage.
Come into Flower Power to discover a wonderful range of ferns and shade plants.
What plants grow in shaded areas?
There are many plants available that are suitable for growing in varying levels of shade. To help you choose the right one, you must first be clear about the light conditions of your garden.
Full shade means no direct sunlight – this is the most difficult (but not impossible) environment to grow in.
Semi or partial shade means the area only gets sun for part of the day. It is important to know what time of day your garden gets light as they can be fussy about the this.
Light or dappled shade means the area gets filtered sunlight during the day.
Many (but not all) shade-tolerant plants have lustrous, deep green foliage and are great for making the most of these dark corners. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Mona lavender is a neat, low-growing, rounded shrub with spikes of bright purple flowers among deep-green leaves with intensely purple undersides. This versatile and hardy plant is easy to grow in containers in full or half shade outside or as an inside plant. Water it every few days to keep soil moist rather than waterlogged.
- Birds Nest Ferns are a must for any shaded garden. Its common name comes from its circular, nest shape, which is surrounded by large, green, sword-shaped leaves. Plants can measure 1-3m across.
- Sweet box is a medium-sized evergreen shrub with glossy dark green leaves and little, fragrant white flowers in winter followed by berries. It is a great option for creating low hedges and edges, needing minimal light and regular watering and not much else.
- One of the most striking of all is elephants ear (Calocasia esculenta), particularly forms with large black leaves such as ‘Black Magic’, which has glossy purple black leaves. The leaves can be up to 1m long on plants that stand 1-1.8m high. They look striking mass planted or combined with shades of green.
- Camellias are bold flowering evergreen shrubs that will grow happily in partial shade and produce beautiful pink flowers from winter through to spring.
- With so many different Bromeliads to choose from, there’s bound to be one to include among your shade plants. Many have colourful leaves and long-lasting flowers, so can be used as a feature plant. Bromeliads can also be grown in pots. Look for Aechmea, Guzmania and Tillandsia for a range of colours and sizes.
- Clivia’s colourful, trumpet-shaped flowers bloom in spring above dark green leaves. They are drought tolerant but also grow well in cool, shady positions.
Outside of these options, most varieties of fern will flourish in low light and damp conditions. They make wonderful space fillers for shady gardens and are popular house plants because of their minimal light requirements.
How to care for ferns
Most ferns like an evenly moist soil and regular watering – letting the soil dry out between waterings causes these plants stress. Bushy ferns can be difficult to water, so try a watering can with a long, thin spout to get water directly to the roots of the plant.
If you want to keep your fern inside in a pot, bathrooms and kitchens are good spots because they tend to have more moisture in the air. If you want to keep a fern in another room, mist leaves every few days and keep them away from air conditioning vents and fans and place moss or mulch around the base to help the soil retain water. Groom your ferns occasionally by snipping away brown fronds, otherwise just let them be.
How to care for ferns outdoors is even easier – just make sure they have adequate moisture and let them do their thing. Some will need to be trimmed to control their spread, but mostly they are happy and hardy little plants.
How to make ferns grow big
Ferns include nearly 12,000 species all with different needs and characteristics. Some, such as the miniature Boston fern, are extremely small and perfect for little pots in apartments or little courtyard, while others, like the bird’s nest fern, can grow to be enormous.
If you're wondering how to make ferns grow big, start by choosing a variety that has the ability to increase its size. Then just give it the space to grow. If you keep your fern in a small pot, it will start producing smaller fronds so be sure to repot it when it’s outgrowing its current space. This will likely be less of an issue for ferns planted in garden beds outside, but if you notice them starting to grow smaller fronds, you can divide them and replant the sections at a distance to give them more room to grow.
If you want good-looking, easy-to-grow plants for your shady corners and rooms, shop online from our huge selection of ferns and shade plants or come into Flower Power today to ask our friendly experts what plants grow in shaded areas.