17 TOP Plant Picks for North Texas Shade Areas

Growing shade-loving plants in North Texas is indeed tricky since most plants in the state region are well-adapted plants to sun exposure and local climate. Nonetheless, some perennial plants, shrubs, and trees thrive best in shaded locations.

They are also hardy plants that favor less water and enjoy the summer weather. If you are planning to plant shade-tolerant plants in your shade garden, we have got you covered!

What are Shade Plants in Texas?

Shade plants in Texas are the enchanting inhabitants of those cooler, less sun-kissed spots in the Lone Star State’s landscape. These resilient botanical wonders have adapted to thrive in the filtered sunlight that dances through the trees or the sheltered corners of buildings. From the graceful ferns that unfurl their delicate fronds to the vibrant bursts of color from shade-loving flowers, these plants bring a touch of mystery and elegance to the shaded areas of Texas gardens.

Why are Shade Plants Important for North Texas Gardens?

In the scorching Texan heat, these Texas shade plants are like nature’s air conditioning, creating pockets of coolness and tranquility.

By reducing sunlight exposure, they conserve moisture and help maintain a balanced ecosystem. Beyond their practical benefits, shade plants add layers of texture and color, turning your garden into a lush and inviting haven. With their unique charm and adaptability, these plants are the artistic brushstrokes that transform a patch of earth into a mesmerizing tapestry.

BEST Shade Plants for North Texas

Imagine strolling through your North Texas garden, where the soft, dappled light dances through the leaves and the air is comfortably cool. The magic of shade plants transforms this oasis into a haven of serenity and beauty. Whether you’re seeking refuge from the blazing sun or looking to infuse your landscape with captivating textures and colors, shade-loving plants are the answer.

These botanical companions thrive in the embrace of gentle shadows, creating an enchanting escape right in your backyard. Let’s delve into the captivating world of shade plants in North Texas, where nature’s artistry comes alive and your garden becomes a canvas of tranquility and allure.

1. Autumn Fern (Dryopteris Erythrosora)

shade plants north texas
Autumn Fern (Dryopteris Erythrosora)

When taking a look at Autumn Fern, you will be mesmerized by its colorful foliage that is a mixture of green, yellow, and orange shade. It also perfectly represents the beautiful vibe of autumn that becomes everyone’s favorite. Contrary to its name, the blooming season of Autumn fern is in spring.

Moreover, this fern thrives best in partial to full shade lighting conditions. Thus, it will be a great addition to your shade garden. Due to its spreading growth, Autumn Fern can do well as ground cover. To allow fresh leaves, cut the old leaves.

2. Azaleas (Rhododendorn ‘Anna Rose Whitney’)

shade plants north texas
Azaleas (Rhododendorn ‘Anna Rose Whitney’)

Despite bearing White in its name, Anna Rose Whitney has captivating rose-like blooms that show off their pink color against dark green leaves. Because of this quality, this evergreen shrub will add a cheerful touch to your shade garden.

Since it is a shade-loving plant, the flowers will grow beautifully under shades – though it is sun tolerant. With its shrub characteristics, Anna Rose Whitney can widely grow to up top six feet tall.

3. Big Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea Macrophylla)

shade plants north texas
Big Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea Macrophylla)

Hydrangea macrophylla, better known as Big Leaf Hydrangea, belongs to a large leaf shrub with broad leaves and beautiful mophead flowers. Thanks to their stunning pink, purple, and blue hues, the rounded clusters look captivating against green foliage. No wonder it will be an ideal addition to lighten up shade gardens, especially in spring and summer.

To take care of this deciduous shrub, pruning in early spring is necessary to stimulate new and fresh growth. In addition, high phosphorus fertilizer is good to encourage more blooms. Moreover, even though it can grow well on several soil conditions, it favors well-drained soil best.

4. Bluemist Flower (Conoclinium Coelestinum)

shade plants north texas
Bluemist Flower (Conoclinium Coelestinum)

You can easily recognize Bluemist Flower by its enchanting light blue to purple fluffy flowers that form small clusters atop the short stems. Many pollinators, like butterflies and bees, are attracted to suck on the nectars, thanks to the appealing blooms it produces.

Usually, Bluemist Flower is grown as ground cover since the plant grows pretty fast in moist soil under partial shade. However, there is a chance that it will turn into pests. Therefore, make sure to prune them when they grow wild.

Among shade plants in North Texas, there is a Brazos Penstemon that doesn’t want to miss out on displaying its beauty. This perennial herb features gorgeous purple flowers that plant lovers often use as ornamental plants.

5. Brazos Penstemon (Penstemon Tenuis Small)

shade plants north texas
Brazos Penstemon (Penstemon Tenuis Small)

Other than that, it is a nectar-producing plant that allures birds and butterflies to visit.

Considering the blooming season, Brazos Penstemon will be excellent to grow with Texas Gold Columbine because it will create magical, colorful blooms. You just need to ensure sufficient soil moisture by doing medium watering.

6. Buddhist Pine (Podocarpus Macrophyllus)

shade plants north texas
Buddhist Pine (Podocarpus Macrophyllus)

Are you familiar with this plant? Usually, Buddhist Pine grows as hedge plants because its fine-textured foliage will naturally form a hedge foundation with proper minimum trimming. It even grows taller over time, offering you privacy screen in your house.

Slightly different from previous plants, Podocarpus macrophyllus grows well on acidic soil under part-shade or full sun exposure. In the shady areas, the foliage will have a deeper green color. If you favor this plant in a container, you can shape them as desired. Since it belongs to flowering shrubs, this hardy plant grows stunning light pink, peony-shaped flowers that fully showcase its charm in spring. Not to mention the glossy, dark green leaves as the background which further accentuates the beauty of the blooms.

7. Camellia Debutante (Camellia Japonica ‘Debutante’)

shade plants north texas
Camellia Debutante (Camellia Japonica ‘Debutante’)

To obtain its best performance, plant Camellia Debutante under partial to deep shade as it will produce better flowers. Moreover, it favors acidic to neutral moist soil. Hence, pay attention to the watering time and soil composition before planting them.

8. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)

shade plants north texas
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)

Another hardy plant that is recommended growing in your North Texas shade gardens. Its namesake truly speaks loudly on the Cast Iron Plant characteristics. The deep green lance-shaped leaves grow gracefully, adding greenery to your indoor or outdoor spaces.

Speaking of its growing conditions, this sturdy plant can grow under circumstances where all plants may not succeed. Cast Iron Plant tolerates deep shade and is almost pests-free. It also does well on broad types of soils. Nonetheless, it doesn’t stand the cold very much.

9. Coral Bells (Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn’)

shade plants north texas
Coral Bells (Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn’)

Bright chartreuse leaves with coral shade in the center and lime edges mark the signature of Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn’. Since it has alluring foliage, this showy plant will provide visual interest as container plants or border plants in your garden.

Furthermore, this versatile plant will grow healthily in partial to full shade areas on well-drained, rich soils. Compared to other attractive leafy plants, its variegated foliage can tolerate heat well and is perfectly grown along with other Coral Bells cultivars.

10. Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal Minor)

shade plants north texas
Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal Minor)

There is a reason why Sabal minor is named after Dwarf Palmetto. It is because this tree belongs to small palms species. Fan-shaped leaves that grow beautifully upwards are the main attraction of Dwarf Palmetto, sparking the tropical season once it is planted in your outdoor space.

This evergreen shrub is pretty drought tolerant as it stands well in poor drainage conditions. It is also considered as the most cold-tolerant Sabal; thus, Sabal minor may be adaptable to the winter. Though it favors shady areas, it can grow under sunlight.

11. Fiddleneck (Phacelia Congesta)

Fiddleneck (Phacelia congesta)
Fiddleneck (Phacelia Congesta)

Besides Fiddleneck, Phacelia congesta is also well-known as Caterpillar’s plant because its buds have a Caterpillar-like shape. It bears purple to blue curls flowers that bloom to form clusters with prominent stamens when blooming. For that reason, Fiddleneck or Blue Curls are often used as ornamental plants.

If you are interested in growing Phacelia congesta, plant the seeds in the fall. It can tolerate wide types of soils, but make sure it is dry. Since it is one of the shade plants, it indeed goes well under part shade, though sunlight is also great for them.

12. Golden Groundsel (Packera Obovata)

Golden Groundsel (Packera obovata)
Golden Groundsel (Packera Obovata)

Sunflowers are a suitable flower to describe the shape of the Golden Groundsel – even though they are not in the same family. It displays bright yellow tiny flowers clusters with deep yellow centers, each carrying ten petals. The flowers also produce nectar, so butterflies and bees like to perch on them.

In terms of growing conditions, this evergreen perennial herb only requires low to medium watering. It grows well in part to shade and on humus-rich soils. To maintain its beauty, prune the bloom stalks after seeds dispersal.

13. Japanese Aucuba (Aucuba Japonica)

Japanese Aucuba (Aucuba japonica)
Japanese Aucuba (Aucuba Japonica)

After talking much about flowering plants, now we are jumping to leafy green shrubs. Japanese Aucuba is an evergreen, durable shrub that grows stunning greenish and yellow leaves with creamy marks over the top foliage.

To grow this shade lover shrub successfully, prepare part to full shade areas with well-drained, rich soils. Additionally, make sure you plant the male next to the female plants to produce red fruits that display their best in summer. Furthermore, this easy plant is perfect for beginners as it requires low maintenance as well as disease and pest free.

14. Scarlet Sage (Salvia Coccinea)

Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea)
Scarlet Sage (Salvia Coccinea)

Trumpet-shaped red flowers that spread widely in their nature are the unique value of the Scarlet Sage which often attracts hummingbirds to sip its nectar. Its native distribution extends from South Carolina to West Texas. Nonetheless, it can be cultivated as color shades and blooms ornamental in your home.

Since it falls under the shade-loving plants’ category, Scarlet Sage loves shade and dry to humid soil. It also tolerates a wide range of soil types, making perennial herb an easy one to go for gardeners.

15. Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia Chrysantha var. Hinckleyana)

Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana)
Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia Chrysantha var. Hinckleyana)

Like many varieties of yellow columbines, Texas Gold Columbine features yellow flowers that bloom stunningly by showing off their stamens. And so, it is an excellent choice to give a vibrant touch to shade gardens. However, although commercially cultivated, this cold-tolerant species is scarce in nature.

Furthermore, this short-lived flowering perennial herb reproduces by seed to maintain its existence. To avoid cross-pollination, grow other Aquilegia species far from one another.

16. Texas Redbud (Cercis Canadensis var. Texensis)

Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis)
Texas Redbud (Cercis Canadensis var. Texensis)

It is one of the best shade plants for North Texas as it grows stunning pink flowers, covering up the brown stems. Besides offering a breathtaking view, the flowers from Texas Redbud are edible. They are usually processed into salad pickles because of their sour taste. Meanwhile, for birds, the flowers are filling heaven with nectar.

If you are interested in planting it in your front yard, choose a shady place. Then, make sure the soil is dry and moderately alkaline. Once established, you only need low to medium watering.

17. Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus Arboreus var. Drummondii)

Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)
Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus Arboreus var. Drummondii)

Last but not least, Turk’s Cap is one of the most beautiful flowering shrubs for North Texas gardens. Their overlapping petals never fully open, resembling a Turkish turban where this shrub gets its name. The red flowers bloom in hot summer to early fall.

Even though it is a wildflower, you can plant them in your garden if you wish. It is an easy plant, having drought tolerant and cold tolerant qualities that will ease you in taking care of them. Despite being a shade plant, it can tolerate full sun and wide varieties of soils.

Final Thought

As we embrace the allure of shade plants in North Texas, we embark on a journey to create a haven of cool serenity amid the blazing sun. Their vibrant foliage and soothing presence beckon us to transform our outdoor spaces into oases of respite. With these botanical companions, we’re not just gardening; we’re painting with nature’s palette, crafting an inviting sanctuary where beauty thrives even in the face of intense heat.

So, let’s embrace the magic of shade plants, harmonizing with the Texan sun to curate a landscape that not only survives but flourishes. Let the lush world of shade plants guide our hands and hearts, as we cultivate an outdoor haven that captivates and rejuvenates, inviting us to pause, breathe, and savor the grace of green life.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What grows well in North Texas shade?

All of our plants in the above list thrive best under North Texas shade. For the full shade plants, you have Autumn Fern, Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn’, and Japanese Aucuba. Meanwhile, the rest will grow well under partial shade to shade sites.

Some even can still tolerate full sun exposure, such as Buddhist Pine and Turk’s Cap.

What ground cover grows in shade in Texas?

There are many varieties of shrubs that can go well as ground cover. From our list, Autumn Fern and Bluemist flower can be the best options to color up your shade garden. 

How do you properly care for shade plants in North Texas?

Caring for shade plants involves understanding their specific needs. Regularly check the soil’s moisture levels and water accordingly. Applying a layer of organic mulch helps retain moisture and prevents weed growth. Pruning dead or damaged foliage not only improves the plant’s appearance but also enhances air circulation. Fertilize during the growing season with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to promote healthy growth.

What are some creative ways to incorporate shade plants into your North Texas landscape?

Consider creating themed shade gardens, such as a woodland-inspired retreat featuring ferns, hostas, and native shade plants. Mix in container plants like caladiums or impatiens for pops of color. Enhance the appeal of shaded pathways with stepping stones flanked by shade-loving ground covers like ajuga or sweet woodruff.

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