Wild flowers that like shade

Plants are funny things.  Give them the right conditions and they’ll usually thrive, but if they’re too wet or too dry, too hot or too cold they’ll wither and die.

Probably the two most important factors involved in growing plants of any type – whether it be flowers, vegetables or a lawn, are drainage and light.

If a sun loving plant is put in the shade, it will quickly become etiolated – pale, leggy and weak and eventually it will die.

If a shade loving plant is put in the sun, it too will fail.

Some plants are pretty good at adapting themselves to sun or shade.  But before spending money, it’s as well to be forearmed and have a list to hand of plants that will be happy in the spot you’ve got planned for them.

Take wild flowers for example.

Meadow flowers are normally best suited to sunny spots, but some will live in the lea of trees or hedgerows and some of the smaller plants are well used to living in the shade of taller plants and grasses.

bluebells in a wood

Some plants, such as these bluebells, thrive in shady conditions

A useful list of wildflowers that will grow in part shade.

Common name

Binomial name

Appears in Meadowmat?

RHS Plants for Pollinators?

Angelica

Angelica sylvestris

 

 

Betony

Betonica officianalis

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

 

 

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Lotus corniculatus

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

 

 Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

 

yes

Bluebell

Hyancith non scripa

 

yes

Bugle

Ajunga reptans

 

yes

Common Agrimony

Agrimonia eupotare

Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

yes

Common Vetch

Vicia sativa

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

 

yes

Cowslip

Primula veris

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

 

yes

Dark Mullein

Verbascum Nigrum

 

yes

Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea

 

yes

Garlic Mustard

Alliaria petiolata

 

Yes

Hairy St. John’s Wort

Hypericum hirsutum

 

 

Hedge Bedstraw

Galium mollungo

 

Yes

Hedge Woundwort

Stachys sylvatica

 

 

Herb Bennet

Geum urbanum

 

yes

Herb Robert

Geranium robertianum

 

Yes

Hemp Agrimony

Eupatorium cannabmum

 

Yes

Meadow Buttercup

Ranunculus acris

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

 

Yes

Meadowsweet

Filipendula ulmaria

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

 

Yes

Nettle-leaved bellflower

Campanula trachelium

 

yes

Oxeye Daisy

Leucanthemum vulgare

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

 

yes

Primrose

Primula vulgaris

 

yes

Ragged Robin

Lychnis Flos cuculi

Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

Yes

Ramsoms

Allium ursinum

 

Yes

Red Campion

Silene dioica

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

 

yes

Ribwort Plantain

Plantage lanceolata

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

 

 

Scarlet Pimpernel

Anagallis arvensis

 

 

Selfheal

Prunella vulgaris

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

 

yes

Common Sorrel

Rumex acetosa

 

 

Sweet cicily

Myrrhis odorata

 

 

White campion

Silene alba

Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

yes

Wood avens

Geum urbanum

 

Yes

Wood sage

Teucrium scorodonia

 

Yes

Yarrow

Achillea millifolium

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

yes

Yellow Rattle

Rhinanthus minor

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild grasses that will grow in part shade

Common Bent

Agrostis capillaris

 

 

Crested Dogstail

Cynosurus cristatus

Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

 

Red Fescue

Festuca rubra ssp rubra

Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

 

Sheeps Fescue

Festuca ovina

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

Yes:  Meadowmat for Birds and Bees

 

 

Slender Creeping Red Fescue

Festuca rubra ssp litoralis

Yes: Traditional Meadowmat

 

 

Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass

Poa pratensis

 

 

Sweet Vernal Grass

Anthoxanthum odoratum

 

 

Tufted Hair Grass

Deschampsia cepitosa

 

 

Wood Meadow Grass

Poa nemoralis

 

 

 

Using wild flowers in a shady part of the garden

wildflowers in the lea of a shed

A small area of wild flowers in the shade of a shed create a wildlife friendly zone

Shade tolerant plants tend to grow naturally in woodland where they flower in spring before the leaf canopy gets too dense to let sunlight through.  Often, these plants have beautiful foliage can be just as interesting in the garden as colourful flowers.

As you can see from the table above, many shade loving wild flowers are also good sources of pollen and nectar for pollinating insects.

What the table doesn’t show is that some are also laval food plants for butterflies and moths. and so by establishing at least some shade loving wild flowers in your garden you will be supporting those all-important pollinating insects.

Establishing Wild flowers turf in shade

laying wildflower turfThere are three main ways of establishing wild flowers.  Seed, pot grown plants and wild flower matting (aka wildflower turf). These are described more fully in my blog about planting wildflowers 

Wild flower turf is by far the quickest and easiest way of establishing native plant species but it is important to be sure that you are using the right wild flower turf in the right place.

Meadowmat wild flower turf contains some plants and grasses that will adapt themselves to part shade. 

Woodland shade Meadowmat is a mixture of wildflowers and grasses that are naturally adapted to living in the dappled shade of a woodland canopy.

Wherever Wild flower turf is established, the species will adapt themselves to the local conditions.  Soil type, sun, shade, management, and weather will all affect which species thrive, survive or give up altogether.

Best wild flower mix for shade

If you have a shady spot in your garden where you would like to plant some wild flowers, provided it isn’t deep shade, I would recommend laying our Woodland Shade Meadowmat wild flower turf OR sowing a speciality wildflower seed mix. You could also underplant it with spring flowering bulbs such as bluebells or aconites.

To compare different methods of establishing a wild flower meadow, visit our blog post entitled when to plant a wildflower meadow.

To compare different types of meadowmat, click here