Best Plants to Grow in the Shade in New York


When we bought our house in Central New York, there was a lot of open space. We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to fill up the sunny bits. But now, its time for us to figure out the best plants to grow in the shade in New York to start working on the less sunny bits! Here’s a list of plants I’ve compiled that grown in the shade and in the growing zones that are covered in New York.

Best Plants to Grow in the Shade in New York
Best Plants to Grow in the Shade in New York

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Always Double Check the Specifics of the Plant You are Buying (Zones, Growing Conditions, etc.!). There are many different verities of every kind of plant, which could have different requirements than what is listed below.

How to Find your Growing Zone

In New York, the growing zones range from 3a to 7b, so you’ll want to know your specific growing zone when figuring out what you should plant in your area. The easiest way I’ve found to do this, is by going to this website and putting in your zip code to get your zone. But there are plenty of other sites and maps that will do the job. Just give it a Google. We land right in zone 6!

If you fall into Zone 3 (some portions of Northern New York), some of these plants might not do well. I do list suggested zones for each plant. However, you should research and you might be able to find a variety of that plant that works for you!


  • Zones 4-8
  • Perennial
  • Blooms in the summer time
  • Available in a variety of colors including red, white, pink and lavender
  • Also known as false goat’s beard and false spirea
  • Mixes well with other plants
  • Buy on Amazon here


  • Zones 3-10
  • Blooms throughout summer
  • Available in a variety of colors, including red, white and yellow
  • Buy on Gurney’s here

Bleeding Hearts

  • Zones 3-9
  • Blooms summer into fall
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Does well grown with ferns
  • Buy on Amazon here


  • Zones 3-10
  • While can be a perennial in zones 9-10, need to be brought inside in zones 3-8 or need to play as an annual
  • Colorful, heart shaped leaves
  • Buy on Gurney’s here


  • Zones 3-8
  • Grow in partial or full shade
  • Very hardy, low maintenance
  • Perennial
  • Deer resistant
  • Buy on Gurney’s here

If you like this article, also check out: 18 Best Perennials to Grow in New York


  • Zones 5-9
  • Mix of colorful flowers
  • Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
  • Does very well in partial shade
  • Deer usually avoid
  • Buy seeds on Amazon here


  • Zones 3-8
  • Grows best in partial to full shade
  • Low maintenance
  • Spreads easily
  • Buy on Amazon here


  • Zones 4-8
  • Flowers bloom for months
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Does well in partial shade
  • Buy seeds on Amazon here


  • Zones 3-11
  • Does best in partial shade
  • Variety of colors
  • Technically a perennial, but only in zones 10-11. So in New York is treated like an annual flower as they won’t survive the winter
  • Buy seeds on Amazon here

Lenten Rose

  • Zones 4-9
  • Variety of colors, very unique. Not as bright as other flowers. I think they are very beautiful.
  • Does best in partial to full shade
  • Buy on Amazon here


  • Zones 4-8
  • Perennial
  • Deer typically will ignore
  • Typically blue, but other verities available
  • Buy seeds on Amazon here


  • Zones 4-8
  • Grows well in partial sun to full shade
  • Many different verities
  • Buy plants on Amazon here

Toad Lilies

  • Zones 5-9
  • Orchid-like blooms – very unique looking!
  • Shade perennial
  • Blooms late summer/early fall
  • Buy on Amazon here

What is Partial Shade vs. Full Shade

Over the years, as I’ve been researching the best plants to grow in the shade in New York, I’ve realized that plants are grouped into one of four categories regarding light. Full shade, partial shade, partial sun, full sun. Some people do use partial shade and partial sun interchangeably as they are quite similar. I created the chart below Hopefully it will help someone else out there.

Plants that require full shade still need some light, which was not really what I was expecting. It does make sense though. Plants still need a bit of light to germinate and then do all the planty (technical term) things they need to do. For those that don’t love full sun, its always best if they can get their sun light from the non-peak sun hours (typically around 10-4). So early morning/evening sun is preferred for plants that don’t like full sun.

Keep in mind, this is from my own research, and it is always best to look up the requirements of the specific plants you’re growing to determine what their specific needs are.

Hours of SunComments
Full Shade4Most plants (except mushrooms) still need light. 4ish hours of morning/evening sun preferred
Partial Shade4-6Preferably morning/evening sun, plants requiring partial shade need breaks from the hot sun
Partial Sun3-6 Preferably morning/evening sun
Full Sun6+Unobstructed direct sunlight

Wrap Up

I hope this article helps you out. Again, you should always research the specific plants you’re working with. With so many varieties of plants now, you shouldn’t assume anything. But this should give you a great starting place to research.

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  1. Lady’s Mantle is also a good one, it’s so pretty and the leaves catch the dew in the middle and it looks so cool!

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