List of Plants for Damp Shade

The lower east end of our garden in King's Heath in Birmingham is in the shade, low-lying and occasionally floods for a few days. Over the past thirty years or so we have noticed some plants thrive and others struggle or die. This has prompted me to come up with a list of plants that from observations should be reliable in similar situations.

Aspect is east facing, with neighbours trees to the south providing shade most of the day.

Soil is medium to heavy with some clay 30 cm (122) down, and floods from neighbours gardens to the north that are higher than mine. Soil is acid, varying between 5.4 and 5.8ph.

Shade can be from trees or buildings or hard landscape features, it is important to assess  the level of shade and the hours of shade, some areas maybe in permanent shade.

Below are my two lists, they will grow as my experiences of new plants thriving in damp shade grows.


Types of Shade


Light shade

Could be caused by framework of a structure that offers a small amount of shade overa larger area.

Partial shade

This is an area that is shaded for part of the day and changes as the sun moves round.

Dappled shade

A good example is under a tree with small leaves that lets through some light such as most of the Betulas (Silver Birches)

Moderate shade

This is best described as under a tree with larger leaves or a more dense canopy of leaves.

Heavy shade

This area is in continuous shade most of the day from very large leaved trees, evergreen trees or large buildings. Temperatures here tend to be cooler than the others mentioned above.

Plants For Damp Soil And Partial Shade


Small trees for damp soil and partial shade

Acer palmatum (many cultivars0 the more unusual the colouring, usually the more shade they require.

Cornus mas (fragrant yellow flowers, February onwards)

Prunus lusitanica (Portuguese Laurel)

Pyrus salicifolia (willow leaved pear)

Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata' (upright Irish yew)

American Cornus or flowering Dogwoods thrive in some shade and protection from winds.

Shade loving shrubs for partial shade

Camellias (most cultivars)

Choisya ternata

Hamamelis (many named cultivars, all provide scent from their flowers in late winter and spring)

Hydrangea including many species benefit from light shade.

Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ AGM

Mahonia many of the dwarfer, ground cover types

Mahonia oiwakensis subsp. lomariifolia AGM

Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’ AGM

Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis

Skimmia confusa 'Kew Green'

Viburnum × hilleri 'Winton' AGM

Vinca minor 'Atropurpurea' AGM

Climbers for damp soil and partial shade

Clematis (many, especially the pale coloured and white flowering cultivars)

Crinodendron hookerianum (Chinese lantern tree, freestanding shrub, but best against a wall or fence)

Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing hydrangea)

Lonicera (most honeysuckles prefers roots and lower growths in the shade and flower in the sum)

Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine) needs a sheltered site)

 Climbing roses will tolerate light to dappled shade

Herbaceous plants for damp soil and partial shade

Aconitum x bicolor

Aconitum carmichaelii

Aconitum vulparia

Anemone x hybrida

Aquilegia formosa truncata

Aquilegia, most long spurred hybrids

Arum italicum 'Pictum'

Aruncus dioicus

Cardocrinum giganteum

Carex morrowii 'Variegata'

Dactlorrhiza elata (orchis)

Dicentra spectabilis

Digitalis grandiflora

Digitalis purpurea

Doronicum most hybrids

Euohorbia amygdaloides 'Purpurea'

Euphorbia robbiae

Gentiana asclepiadea (willow gentian)

Geranium maculatum

Geranium phaeum

Geranium sylvaticum

Geranium wallichianum

Heuchera (many)

Hosta including many variegated forms from small to large in size

Lamium orvala

Lilium most species

Alpine and low growing plants for damp soil and partial shade

Ajuga reptans, many

Arisarum probboscideum

Corydalis lutea

Haquetia epipactis 

Lamium maculatum


Omphalodes cappadocia, O. verna

Shortia (choice and rare)

Viola species

Waldsteinia ternata

Grasses for damp soil in partial shade




Molinia Variegata


Luzula Nivea

Ferns for damp soil and partial shade

Dryopteris erythrosora var. prolifica

Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata The King’

Corms and bulbs for damp soil and partial shade

Convallaria majis

Eranthus hymenalis

Erythronium dens canis

Erythronium californicum


Plants For Damp Soil and Full Shade


Small trees for moist shady situations

Liquidambar styraciflua (American sweetgum)

Metasequoia glyptostroboides (dawn redwood)

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress, southern-cypress, white-cypress, tidewater red-cypress)

Shade loving Shrubs for moist or damp soils

Daphne laureola. Subsp. Philippi

Leucothoe fontanesiana

Mahonia japonica

Paeonia lutea var ludlowii (tree paeony)

Pieris Formosa var forrestii ‘wakehurst’

Prunus laurocerasus


Sarcococca humilis

Skimmia japonica


Vinca minor

Herbaceous plants for damp shade

Anemone x hybrid

Anemone leveillei

Aruncus Dioircus (Goats Beard - like a giant Astilbe)

Arum italicum


Brunnera macrophylla

Epimedium grandiflorum 'Sirius' AGM


Caltha palustris var. alba

Euphorbia amygdaloides var.robbiae

Darmera Peltata (umbrella plant)

Geranium macrorrhizum

Hostas - some

Helleborus hybridus

Ligularia (various varieties to choose from)

Polygonatum x hybridum

Primulas – many

Pulmonaria saccharata

Pulmonaria ‘Majesté’, Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’,

Rodgersia Aesculifolia (lovely leaves and I've found fragrant flowers)

Symphytum grandiflorum

Tradescantia fluminensis

Tricyrtis formosana 'Dark Beauty'Alchemilla mollis

Trillium grandiflorum

Digitalis mertonensis

Tiarella cordifolia

Tolmiea Taffs gold

Ferns for shade

Most varieties

Blechnum chilense, B. spicant,

Polypodium vulgare

Polystichum setiferum

Corms and Tubers

Galanthus nivalis

Leucojum Aestivum

Narcissus cyclamineus

Grasses for damp shade




Molinia Variegata


Luzula Nivea

Climbers for damp shady corners

Clematis with pale or white coloured flowers as they stand out well in lower light levels

Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ Golden foliaged hop

Hrdrangea petiolaris Climbing hydrangea

Hedera colchica ‘Dentata’

Trachelospermum jasminoides Needs a warn sheltered position to thrive, delicious scent from flowers


The information given in this Fact Sheet is provided in good faith. It is however of necessity general information and advice on the topic. Howard Drury will not be under any liability in respect of the provision of such advice and information, and you are strongly advised to seek independent advice on any particular gardening problems or queries you may have, preferably from experts who can (when appropriate) inspect the problem before providing advice.

© 2022. This material has been produced by Howard Drury and must not be reproduced in part or full without the written consent of Howard Drury, Kings Heath, Birmingham B13 0SJ.




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