The 5 best plants for shade1

The 5 best plants for shade

If you want to relax in your garden at the height of summer, having the right plants for shade can help you to stay cool. As well as shielding you from the sun’s heat, colourful flowering shrubs, trees and vines offer privacy and look amazing. Here are 5 of the best.

1. Lilac

Lilac is a garden favourite, because as well as stunning blossoms, it also has a unique, heady fragrance which hangs in the air on warm summer’s evenings. Although its flowers are traditionally pale purple as its name suggests, varieties with blooms in deeper purples, pinks, whites and even yellows are available. One of the best plants for shade and privacy, lilac comes in a range of sizes, growing to anywhere between 6 and 30 feet. Pick the variety that suits you best and look forward to wonderful hours spent relaxing in its shade.

2. Butterfly Bush (buddleia)

It’s easy to see where buddleia got its more common name from. The richly coloured blossoms of this low-maintenance shrub attract adult butterflies in amazing quantities. It’s one of the most fast-growing plants for shade, which makes it great if you’re in a hurry to provide yourself with some protection from the sun. However, its ability to spread quickly has also led to it being considered an invasive species in some regions. To prevent it spreading too much, simply remove blooms once they are spent.

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3. Honeysuckle

Alongside lilac, honeysuckle is another of the most fragrant plants for shade, with an unmistakable, delicate scent which will lift your mood. Honeysuckle is a great climber and can be encouraged to grow along any bower or trellis you choose, allowing you to create a shady shelter for yourself among the beautiful flowers. Be prepared to share your space though, as it’s also a favourite of butterflies and bees!

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4. Morning glory

The stunning, trumpet-shaped blooms of this climbing plant come in blue, purple, pink, white, red, and bicoloured combinations of these. Its large leaves and ability to grow quickly almost anywhere - from trellises, bowers and hanging baskets to drainpipes - make it an ideal plant for shade. Morning glory prefers full sun, so using it as a barrier between you and the sun is good for it too! If it’s doing so well that it’s getting out of hand, remove spent blooms to prevent reseeding and uproot any unwanted vines in winter.

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5. Trees: the ultimate plants for shade

Of course, when it comes to plants for shade, nothing beats a full-sized tree.  When deciding whether to plant a tree, find out its maximum height and root span and think about whether it could damage any nearby structures or overhead wires. A tree is a long-term commitment so it’s worth thinking carefully about which variety you want and whether it will suit your garden.

Apple trees are popular for gardens, as they tend not to grow too tall (usually a maximum of 15 feet) and offer delicious fruit. Because they are deciduous, they will only create shade in summer and won’t block light in winter. Apple trees can’t usually pollinate themselves or other trees of the same variety, so consider planting two trees (different but compatible varieties, which blossom at the same time) to get fruit. Cross-pollination is a complicated business, so consult your local garden centre about which trees are compatible with each other and tricks to use if you only have space for one tree.

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Whether you want just a little shade for the coming summer, or a larger area that will serve you for years to come, the right plants can work wonders in keeping you cool. Just remember to surround them with plants that enjoy the shade as much as you do!