The White Garden in Shade

If you have nearby shade trees or have planted some white flowered trees and shrubs in your white garden, you will have at least a few shaded areas.


Dappled light, where sun reaches through the overhead branches to the ground in a varying pattern all day long, is a great growing location for many different shade tolerant flowers. There are also white garden or moon garden plants suited to deep shade.

White Flowered Spring Bulbs for Shade

Early spring bulbs such as snowdrops, white flowered forms of chionodoxa and Scilla hyacinthoides, and early white daffodils (Narcissus) can be planted beneath deciduous trees because they bloom and grow before the trees are fully leafed out.

Bulbs can be over planted with shade loving flowers for an extended season of bloom.


Shade Loving White Flowers

Shade lovers with white flowers include the widely grown and popular annual flower, impatiens. But there are many more choices such as the native woodland plants trillium and Solomon’s seal.

Consider too white flowered forms of perennials such as Aruncus, Chelone, Dicentra, Astilbe, Gallium, Epimedium, Lamium, Tiarella, Lily of the Valley, Primula and Viola. In light shade you may have success with self seeding, white flowered strains of Aquilegia and the biennial money plant (Lunaria annua).


Variegated Plants for Shade

Many white variegated or accented foliage plants thrive in shade as well. White patterned caladiums brighten any shady corner as do many selections of white variegated hostas, and named cultivars of white variegated English ivy such as Hedera helix “Glacier”.

Silvery accents such as Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum Pictum) can also be added to further brighten a dark shady area. The glaucus blue hostas do a great job of adding a mysterious and shimmery effect in the deep shade they crave — and look almost ghostly at night.

Look for white or silver variegated forms of Ajuga, Pachysandra, Hedera helix and Vinca minor to serve as groundcovers where needed. Although deciduous, the perennial Lamium maculatum “White Nancy” is one of my favorite silver and white variegated flowering ground covers for a shady white garden or moon garden.

Shrubs for the Shady White Garden

There are some white variegated shrubs with some shade tolerance, in a relatively bright location you might try Eonymus fortunei “Gaiety” or perhaps the shrub dogwood Cornus alba “Elegans” or possibly a white variegated Aralia.


You may also try some shade tolerant white flowered azaleas or rhododendrons and of course, white flowered hydrangeas in light shade.

White Flowered Vines for Shade

To add height and drama to your shady white flower garden or moon garden, you may also want to grow some flowering vines. The shade loving vines Hydrangea anomala petiolaris (climbing hydrangea) and Schizophragma hydrangeoides are terrific – if unusual — additions to the all white flower garden.