Plants for Dry Shade

Often gardens will have areas that are quite dry and shaded, for example under trees, near your house, along garden walls, these types of areas.

If you're lucky an area might just be shady and still get some moisture, but it might also be dry! In these situations, you'll want to choose plants that have a good chance of growing in both of these conditions, where a plant that needs the sun or moisture wouldn't grow properly.

Causes of dry shade

Some situations that can cause dry shade might be for example planting under trees, where the tree branches can cause shade and decrease the water that gets to the ground around the tree. Also, the roots can use up a lot of the moisture from nearby soil.

Your house walls and garden walls can also cause dry shade, where if the wall is quite tall it can cause shade and decrease rainfall on the ground nearby.

Dryness depends a lot on the weather too, where the wind might cause one side of a wall to be particular dry or wet, or allow rain to reach under the branches of a tree.

For shade, generally in the UK as we're above the equator the sun will be south of your garden and move from east to west over the day, so the area north of trees/walls will get the most shade. For walls, the taller the wall the less moisture the ground nearby might get.

If your garden is north facing, with the house on the south-most part, this can cause a large part of your back garden near the house to be shaded for a lot of the year (it's not as bad in the summer when the sun is higher up causing less shade). Equally for a south facing garden your front garden would get a lot of shade.

Plants to use for a dry shaded area

The specific plants you choose will depend on if you want plants or a particular look that's hands-on or hands-off and your climate. Below we give some plants that are generally suited to the UK and can grow well in dry shaded areas. Keep in mind many plants have different varieties and specific ones might be best suited for dry shaded areas.


Astrantias are hardy perennial flowers. They tend to like a bit of moisture, but they're often planted under trees which can be dry and shaded, so may be worth considering.

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium are hardy perennial flowers. Often called ivy-leafed cyclamen, as their leaves look similar to ivy, this variety of cyclamen can grow fairly well in quite dry partial shade, so under trees and fairly near walls, and are quite resistant to the cold weather you might get in the UK. They'll spread slowly when they grow well.


Epimediums are fairly hardy perennial flowers. They're best suited to soil conditions under trees and prefer slightly acidic soil. Certain varieties are more/less tolerant to very dry soil. They spread when they grow so be careful that it doesn't overgrow.


Geraniums are hardy perennial flowers. Several varieties are very hardy and can grow well in dry shaded areas and have flowers for many months of the year.

Liriope muscari

Liriope muscari are hardy evergreen perennial flowers. Often called Lily turf, they come in a range of varieties/colours, flower between summer/autumn and have grass-like leaves similar to an ornamental grass. They can grow in partial/full shade, prefer well-drained soil and can tolerate the soil being quite dry. They'll spread slowly when they grow well.

You may also come across Liriope spicata, also often called Lily turf. This has some differences, but in particular it spreads quicker and more aggressively so you need to be more careful that it doesn't overgrow.