Main page

Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

Plant map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main page

Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main page

Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

 

 

Gardening in the shade to attract wildlife

It is true that you simply do not get the density of wildlife in a shade garden. With less sunshine, there is less food production and that affects all the animals up the food chain. However, beautiful and floriferous shade gardens are easily achieved and you can still attract a decent amount of wildlife. I would also say that if aesthetics are important to you, then you should place greater emphasis on leaf textures in shade gardens because the leaves in shady areas do not get burnt by the sun and look better.

With less emphasis of flowering perennials in a shade garden, more thought can be given to a diversity of plants that includes small trees, shrubs, ferns and sedges. Most grasses cannot handle shade, so take a look at sedges instead as these plants often have excellent value for wildlife.

The seasons to focus on in a shady garden are spring and fall. In the spring, you have shrubs that flower as well as woodland flowers. In the fall there are the asters and goldenrods that can add some flower power.

Here is list of plants that can be grown for wildlife in the shade or in part-shade.

Name Notes
Actaea rubra (Red baneberry) native Both Red Baneberry and the closely related Doll's Eyes produce pollen that may be used by bees to some extent. The fruit are eaten by various birds.
Agastache nepetoides and Agastache scrophularia Yellow Giant Hyssop can easily grow with just a couple of hours of sun each day while Agastache scrophularia requires part-sun. There are not too many woodland plants that flower in August that are so attractive to bees.
Ajuga Reptans (Bugleweed) This plant is non-native and not a favourite plant of mine. However, it can tolerate poor soils and it spreads easily. Its flowers attract bees. It tolerates full shade
Aquilegia (Columbine)native It does well in a range of conditions. Canadian Columbine is pollinated by hummingbirds.
Aster sp. native Aster cordifolius, divaricatus and macrophylus all do well in dry shady conditions.
Blephilia ciliata (Downy wood mint) native Does well in dry part shade conditions and attracts bees.
Caltha palustris Needs rich moist soils. Has noticeable flowers.
Carex sp. native There are lots of sedges that grow quite well in shade and they support a lot of wildlife.
Chelone glabra native Does well in moist soils and attracts bumblebees. It is a host plant of the Baltimore checkerspot.
Cimifuga sp. native Does well in moist soils and takes a few years to get going. It is attractive to bees. Part-shade needed to flower. These plants are now included in the genus Actaea.
Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet) native Grows well in part shade with moist soil. The flowers are quite fragrant and attract bees.
Cornus canadensisnative Does well in moist acid soils. Grows in full shade. They attract birds with their berries.
Dicentra sp.native These species generally need moist soils and will grow in full shade. They attract hummingbirds.
Digitalis sp. (Foxglove) These plants grow in moist soils in part shade. They attract bees and hummingbirds.
Eupatorium sp. native Most species tolerate part-shade and do well in moist soils. Eupatorium rugosum tolerates dry shade and is one of the last plants to flower. They attract bees and butterflies.
Fragaria sp. native Wild strawberries are fantastic wildlife plants. They will tolerate full shade and feed both insects and birds. They spread rampantly and are good ground covers.
Fuchsia sp. These plants are annuals in Canada. They need moist soil and little direct sunshine. They are visited by hummingbirds and flower all summer.
Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen)native This plant will handle dry shade and feed the birds with its berries.
Geranium maculatum native A spring plant that can handle quite a bit of shade and drier conditions.
Heucheura sp. The species commonly available in nurseries is not native to Canada. It tolerates dry shade and attracts hummingbirds.
Helianthus sp.(Sunflower) native Helianthus strumosus and Helianthus divaricatus are both perennials that grow well in part-shade or on the north side of buildings.
Heliopsis sp. native Grows well in part-shade and has a long bloom. It attracts bees and butterflies.
Hosta sp. These garden plants are escaping into the wild. They flower in dry shade and are said to attract hummingbirds. Their biggest wildlife value is they feed slugs.
Hydrangea quercifolia native This native hydrangea grows 6 feet high in dappled shade and moist soil. Its inflorescences attract native bees in late spring.
Impatiens capensis native Jewel weed grows in moist soils in lightly shaded areas. It is pollinated by hummingbirds. The seed pods are fun for kids.
Lobelia sp. native They flower well in part-shade and in moist soils. They attract hummingbirds.
Mertensia virginica native Prefer moist soils and tolerate drier soils while dormant. Tney attract bees and hummingbirds. They grow in full shade.
Mitchella repens native Partridgeberries grow in dry shade and attract birds.
Monarda didymanative Prefers moist soils and grows well in part-shade.
Nicotiana sp. This plant has escaped gardens into the wild so be careful where you plant it. It grows in partial shade and is pollinated by hummingbirds. The white forms probably attract sphinx moths as well.
Parthenocissus quinquefolianative

Virginia Creeper is a vine that grows quite well in the shade and provides fruit for birds. It is also a host plant for several species of sphinx moths. Do not plant Boston Ivy which is a member of the same genus.

Phlox divaricata native Woodland phlox flowers in late spring and grows in moist well drained soil. It provides nectar to insects with long tongues. These include butterflies and some of the larger bees.
Rubus odoratus native(Flowering Raspberry) This shrub grows up to 9 feet. The foliage is quite dense so it provides good cover for birds and also food.
Scrophularia marilandica (Late figwort) native There are not too many mid-summer shade plants that can attract pollinators. Here is one.
Smilacina sp. native A woodland plant that grows in full shade and moist soils. It attracts birds with its fruit.
Solidago sp. native Solidago caesia (Blue-stemmed goldenrod) grows well in dry shade and Solidago flexicaulis (Zig-Zag goldenrod) grows well in moist soils with some dryness tolerated. They both attract a wide variety of insects.
Spigelia marilandica Grows in full shade in medium moisture. It attracts hummingbirds.
Symphoricarpos albus native The snowberry is an adaptable small shrub with distinctive white berries that feed birds and show off in winter.
Torrenia sp. An annual that grows in full shade and attracts hummingbirds. It requires a moist soil.
Viola sp. native Woodland violets tolerate part shade and are host plants for fritillaries.