Shady garden situations are one of the most challenging in which to plant. In zone 5, your challenges go up to include frigid winters. Therefore, any plants chosen for shady areas must also tolerate temperatures well below zero. However, there are plenty of options for shade plants in zone 5. Select from perennials, evergreen shrubs, or deciduous trees. There are surely some plants that will suit any garden needs.
Perennial Zone 5 Shade Loving Plants
Planting conditions vary from garden to garden, but when you have both shade and freezing winter temperatures to contend with, your plant options begin to look a little slim. Your local extension office can be of great help in providing you with plants that are hardy in zone 5 and that thrive in shade. Remember to consider the other site conditions when choosing zone 5 shade plants, such as drainage, soil type, and average moisture as you make your selections of shade plants for zone 5. Most perennials have a "here today, gone tomorrow" nature because they die back in winter and arise in spring. This aspect makes them especially hardy because no tender green parts are exposed during winter. As long as the soil is mulched, providing a thick blanket to protect roots, a remarkable number of perennials survive cold regions like zone 5. Perennials also come in a wide range of colors, sizes, and site preferences. One of the classic shade perennials that is tolerant to zone 4 is the hosta. These large leaved beauties come in many leaf colors and sizes. Hellebores are another plant with shady impact. They survive zone 5 harsh winters and are one of the earliest bloomers with prolific flowers and attractively lobed leaves. Some other perennial shade plants for zone 5 are:
- Lily of the Valley
- Red Trillium
- Cardinal Flower
- Bleeding Heart
- Lady's Mantle
- Asian Lily
Woody Zone 5 Shade Loving Plants
A shade garden benefits from the dimension that trees and shrubs can provide. Whether the plant is evergreen or deciduous, larger plants trace the path the eye sketches when entering the shady garden. Many of the options for shade plants in zone 5 will even flower and fruit, further adding interest to a low light area. The fine foliage of barberry is decorated with deeply red berries in fall and many dogwoods produce their ornamental flower-like bracts followed by cheery bird attracting fruits. Evergreen specimens such as Green Velvet boxwood, Aurea Compact hemlock and Dwarf Bright Gold yew provide year around texture and color. Seasonal change is evident in Tiger Eye sumac and Dwarf European viburnum. Other shade plants for zone 5 might be:
- Taunton Yew
- Bush Honeysuckle
- Annabelle Hydrangea
- Northern Lights Azalea
- Highbush Cranberry
- Witch Alder
Choosing Zone 5 Shade Plants
Planning is important when designing any garden space. Just randomly throwing together a bunch of shade tolerant plants does not make an appealing design. Evaluate the space and its conditions before choosing your selections. For instance, many areas get half a day of sunlight, making them partial shade locations. Virginia bluebells will thrive in such a situation but only if the soil is moist much of the time. Solomon's seal prefers a bit more shade and drier soil. If you have a fully shaded location much of the day, such as under tall trees, plants like Japanese painted fern will bring color and ease of care. Bear's breeches will also prefer full shade but needs the soil to be consistently moist. Evaluating each plant's needs will ensure the correct choices for your shady garden. Fortunately, many are adaptable to partial or full shade, making them foolproof choices.
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.