Plants For Moist Shade

In areas with high rainfall, the soil in parts of the garden that receive little or no sun may be cool and moist throughout the year.  Low lying gardens with a high water table or drainage problems may have shady, permanently moist areas.  Similar conditions occur along the margins of natural streams, or where an artificial bog is created beside a garden pond.  Take advantage of these situations  to grow plants such as broad-leaved hostas, ferns and taller moisture-loving primulas.  Plant up your areas in the Spring, enriching lighter soils with organic materials.  Make sure to keep an eye on moisture levels during extended dry periods. 


Ajuga varieties. (Bugle) 
Very damp areas. 15cm (6”) high, up to 60cm (24”) spread. Blue flowers in late Spring/early Summer.

Arenaria montana (Sand Wort) 
Moderately damp areas. 5cm (2”) high, 12cm (5”) spread. Pure white flowers in early Summer.

Dodecatheon media (Shooting Stars) 
Lightly damp areas.  20cm (8”) high, 15cm (6”) spread. Vivid purple flowers Mid to Late Spring.

Pratia pendunculata
Light to moderately damp areas. 1cm (0.5”) high, indefinite spread. Pale  / mid-blue flowers in Summer

Primula denticulata (Drumstick Primula)
Moderately damp areas.45cm (18”) height and spread. Purple, pink or white flowers in mid-Spring/Summer

Saxifraga (Saxifrage)

Lightly damp areas. Various heights and spread.  White, pink purple or red flowers in Spring and Summer.

Sisyrinchium brachypus (Golden-eyed Grass)
Moderately damp areas. 30-60cm (12-24”) high, 30cm (12”) spread. Bright yellow flowers in Summer.


Arum italicum
Moderately damp areas. 15-25cm (6-10”) high, 20-30cm (8-12”) spread. Creamy-white spathes followed by red berries in the Autumn.

Galanthus nivalis and cvr (Snowdrop)
Lightly damp areas. 10-15cm (4-6”) high, 5-8cm (2-3”) spread. White flowers with a green mark at the tip of the petals, are borne in early Spring.


Crataeus lavigata ‘Punicea’ (Hawthorn/May)
Moderately damp areas. 6m (20ft) height and spread. Crimson flowers in late Spring and early Summer.

Gaultheria procumbens
Lightly damp areas. 5-15cm (2-6”) high, indefinite spread. White flowers in summer followed by red berries.

Kalmia latifolia (Calico bush)
Moderately damp areas. 3m (10ft) height and spread. Large clusters of pink flowers from early summer

Neillia thibetica
Lightly damp areas. 2m (6ft) height and spread. Slender spikes of rose pink flowers in late spring / early summer.

Pieris formosa var forrestii ‘wakehurst’
Moderately damp areas. 4m (12ft) height and spread. Urn-shape white flowers in spring-summer.

Pittosporum eugenioides
Lightly damp areas. 10m (30ft) high, 5m (15ft) spread. Honey scented, pale yellow flowers in spring

Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry laurel / Laurel)
Lightly damp areas. 6m (20ft) high, 10m(30ft) spread. Spikes of small white flowers in mid spring.

Rhododendrons varieties.

Skimmia japonica 
Moderatly damp areas. 1.5m (5ft) height and spread
Clusters of small white flowers mid Spring, followed by red berries on female plants.

Viburnum ‘Pragense’
Moderatly damp areas. 3m(10ft) height and spread.
Domed heads of white flowers from late Spring.


Anemone x hybrida cvr (Japanese Anemone)​
Moderately damp areas. 1.5m(5ft) high, 60cm(2ft) spread. Shallow cup-shaped flowers in summer.

Aruncus dioicus (Goat’s Beard)
Lightly damp areas. 2m(6ft) high, 1.2m (4ft) spread.Large leaves with plumes of tiny creamy-white flowers in Summer.

Lightly  damp areas. Approx. 60cm (24”) height and spread. Large, flat, leathery leaves in different colours, with small flower spikes in summer.

Brunnera  macrophylla (Siberian Bugloss)
Moderatly damp areas. 45cm(18”) high, 60cm(2ft) spread. Sprays of small star-shaped, bright blue flowers in the spring.

Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-Valley)
Moderatly damp areas. 15cm (6”) high, indefinite spread. Sprays of small, very fragrant, bell shaped flowers .

Darmera pelata (Umbrella Plant)
Very damp areas. 1.2m(4ft) high, 60cm (2ft) spread
Clusters of white or pale pink flowers in Spring


Digitalis x mertonensis (Foxglove)

Moderatly damp areas. 75cm(30”) high, 30cm(12”) spread. Spikes of tubular rose-mauve flowers in Summer.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)
Moderatly damp areas. 45cm (18”) height and spread. Cup-shaped white, pink or purple flowers in late Winter or Spring.

Hostas ( All varieties)

Pachysandra terminalis
Moderate to very damp areas. 10cm (4”) high, 20cm (8”) spread. Creeping perennial with spikes of tiny white flowers in early Summer.

Primula's (Many varieties)

Prunella grandiflora (Large Self-Heal)
Moderatly damp areas. 10-15cm (4-6”) high, 30cm (12”) spread. Short spikes of funnel-shaped purple flowers in mid-Summer.

Pulmonaria varieties.


Akebia quinata (Chocolate Vine)
Lightly damp areas. 10m (30ft) or more. Twining climber with vanilla scented, brownish-purple flowers in late spring.

Humulus lupulus ‘aureus’ (Golden Hop)
Lightly damp areas. 6m (20ft) Twining, golden leaved plant with greenish flower spikes in autumn


Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea)
Moderately damp areas. 15m(50ft) high. Lacy heads of small white flowers borne through summer.

Passiflora coccinea (Red Passion Flower)
Lightly damp areas. 3-4m(10-12ft) high. Bright deep scarlet flowers with red, pink  and white crowns from Spring to Autumn

Pileostegia viburnoides.
LIghtly damp areas. up to 6m(20ft) high.  Heads of tiny white or cream flowers are borne from Summer to Autumn.

Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine)
Lightly damp areas. up to 9m(28ft). Very fragrant white flowers in summer, followed by long pods 6”.


Athyrium niponicum (Painted Fern)
Moderately damp areas. 30cm (12”) height and spread. Broad, triangular, divided, purple tinged, greyish-green fronds.

Dicksonia antarctica (Australian Tree Fern)
Moderately damp areas. 10m(30ft) high, 4m(12ft) spread. Stout brown trunks crowned with arching palm-like fronds.

.Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern)
Very damp areas. 1m(3ft) high, 45cm (18“) spread.
Lance shaped erect fronds arranged like a shuttlecock.

Onoclea sensibilis (Sensitive Fern)
Very damp areas. 45cm (18”) height and spread. Creeping fern with arching, fresh pale green fronds, often pinkish-brown in spring.

Polystichum munitum (Giant Holly Fern)
Very to moderatly damp areas. 2m(4ft) high, 30cm (1ft) spread. Erect, leathery dark green fronds.

Woodwardia radicans (Chain Fern)
Moderatly damp areas. 1.2m (4ft) high, 60cm (2ft) spread. Large, arching, lance-shaped mid-green fronds.