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Text overlay stating "top 10 best indoor plants for shady areas" on a background of a lush garden with various green plants and trees under dappled sunlight.

There has never been more shade in Melbourne as there is now. Townhouses, units, and apartments are on the rise. Backyards are getting smaller. Sunlight is becoming more blocked. But everyone still wants a garden filled with plants. And you should have that.
I spent today going around my nursery and picking out a trolley of the ten best plants for shady areas. I was really intentional with my choices because what I keep hearing from my customers is how they want flowers and colours and beauty in their garden.

Look, this list could’ve been just every type of Ajuga, but I doubt you’re going to want that. Instead, I’ve included a huge range of versatility in this list, because I understand that everyone has different needs. For some it’s a shaded wall that needs covering, for others it’s a spot in a garden bed that their neighbour’s two storey house casts a shadow over. Whatever it is, let’s bring lushness and colour into your shaded areas.

10 of the Most Fragrant Plants

Lush green indoor garden corner filled with top broad-leafed plants, surrounded by wooden fencing and a small grass patch. Tractor seat plant

One of the most popular choices, the Tractor Seat Plant look spectacular with their dinner plate size leaves. They’re a powerful feature with modern architecture and would look great on a portico. Also they’re very handy if you have a south facing house. You can grow it in a pot or in the garden. Your Tractor Seat likes well drained soil, plenty of water and a little bit Osmocote fertiliser. They’re supper happy in deep shade, but they also do well in morning sun and afternoon shade.

Hydrangeas are actually another plant I could’ve filled the entire list with. But I’ve just picked the Candlelight for today as it’s one of your more modern Hydrangeas. Candlelight has gorgeous foliage and flowers, with an upright shape that is different to other Hydrangeas. They start out white in the spring and end up a lovely shade of pink. It’s a spectacular feature to have in a key spot in your garden, and you can grow Candlelight in a pot or in the ground. Don’t think that your shaded area has to be boring, you’ll be surprised at how many gorgeous plants are on this list.

A lush green shrub covered in white blossoms, situated next to a black fence and a brick building, is one of the top indoor plants. Choisya ‘Mexican Orange Blossom’ The Mexican Orange Blossom is perfect if you are looking for a hedge, ball, or screen option. They grow to about two and a half metres tall, I actually used to trim a hedge of this for a lady when I was a young gardener. That hedge grew in deep shade underneath oak trees, probably never saw the sun, and it absolutely thrived there for year after year. Mexican Orange Blossom flowers late winter early spring and has a delicately fragrant white flower on it. The fragrance is quite gentle and if you are after something with a bit more of a kick to it you should check out my article on the Top 10 Best Plants for Incredible Fragrances. Don’t feel constrained to the shade with this plant, if you have other spots in mind too, Mexican Orange Blossom also grow well in the sun. The great thing about the Mexican Orange Blossom is you can keep it as a low hedge around 90cm tall, let it grow into a bigger hedge, or even trim it into a ball. I’ve seen many gardens with it as a ball, and it makes for quite a stunning feature with the luscious green foliage and white flowers. I’ve also seen where they were mass planted it in a big shady area under a corner of trees and it looked fantastic.

Variegated ornamental grass, one of the top indoor plants, with white and green striped leaves growing alongside a stone surface. Liriope ‘Stripey White’The Stripey White is one of my favourites to use in the shade because it’s a nice mid-size plant that fits in a lot of areas. The creamy white stripes and white flowers add brightness and colour, which so many shady spots need. It’s also really hardy and versatile, so if your spot gets some sunshine too, then that’s fine. Let’s say you have a hedge, the Stripey White is perfect to jazz up that space at the bottom and create a dynamic look. Also if you don’t love the look of the Stripey White, but still want a strappy grass, we have a Mondo Grass and Liriope Section at the Nursery which you should come check out. Pretty much all the Liriopes and Mondo Grass love the shade, just be cautious with sunlight because most of them don’t like the sun.

A close-up of white jasmine flowers in full bloom surrounded by lush green leaves, one of the top indoor plants.I get a lot of clients that have a narrow strip of dirt between two houses, and they want to put up something tall and narrow that’s going to grow quickly. Chinese Star Jasmine is the solution. You can grow a lush, bushy wall of Chinese Star Jasmine that is just 30cm wide with some trimming and training. The downside is that you do need a structure for it to grow on, whether that be a trellis, wire mesh or some cables. Chinese Star Jasmine will not naturally grow on a fence by itself. If you want quick cover then you need to plant them quite close, about 80cm apart, and give them plenty of water and fertiliser. They are quite a fast-growing plant though. You’ll find that once they’re more established they start to grow these big, long arms. A smart idea is to buy some clips and you can actually position them as you please against the wall, as the plant is quite flexible. Do this for a couple years and once you’re happy with the coverage, you can start to shear those long arms off.

Vibrant pink camellia flowers in bloom, surrounded by glossy green leaves, ideal as top indoor plants, under bright sunlight.Okay let’s take that same problem I was talking about before and give another answer with different applications. Camellia sasanqua is an evergreen flowering shrub that you can keep quite narrow, about 50cm wide. They are a lovely thick hedge that are great if you don’t have a fence, or you’re not interested in building a trellis-type structure. They also flower for months of the year, during autumn and winter. Now you wouldn’t think that Camellias do well in the shade, I sure didn’t think so when I was a kid. But it was my dad that showed me otherwise. He used to run his own nursery growing business and he got me to plant a bunch of Camellias in this steep little gully that never got any sunshine. I was thinking, this poor old bugger, he has no idea what he’s doing. But lo’ and behold, a few years later and they were absolutely thriving. So Camellia sasanqua will grow really nice and bushy in a spot where the sun never shines.

What a gorgeous medley of colour! You’ve got greens, creams, dusky pinks and burgundy/rose in the leaves, then a splash of bright purple blue in the flowers. If that isn’t already great enough, what I love about Ajuga is that technically they’re actually a bugleweed. Now I’m a bit cheeky because I like things that have a little bit of weed in them because they grow so easily. Nothing crazy, it’s not going to spread through the neighbouring bush and kill the koala bears or anything. But if you have a big bare patch under your trees, the Burgandy Glow will take a bit of sun. I just love the mix of colours, the Burgandy Glow is so pretty and you don’t have to worry about any thorns or anything like that.

White bell-shaped flowers blooming on a top indoor plant with slender green leaves, set against a soft-focus background of dense foliage. Arthropodium ‘Te Puna’ Rock LilyI love the Te Puna because of its gorgeous big leaves. It’s an evergreen bulb and you’ll end up with a big clump quite quickly. Now they are a little bit expensive, but you can spread them out a fair bit. In the springtime they have beautiful sprays of white flowers, and they look really attractive through the summertime. They can take a bit of morning sun or speckled sun but keep them out of direct, all-day sunlight. They love full on shade with a little bit of water. Best of all, they are so easy to grow.

Vibrant pink azalea flowers with dewdrops, one of the top indoor plants, surrounded by green foliage. AzaleaAzalea flower beautifully in late winter early spring with a stunning show of big flowers. You can get them in all different colours, from white to red to a soft pink. These are perfect for that shady spot on the patio. Or you can plant them in the garden in a shady spot. No matter where you put them, they’re going to give you a gorgeous pop of colour.

Close-up of dark red hellebores with yellow stamens, top indoor plants, highlighting the details of the petals and central flower structure. Winter RoseLucky last is your Winter Rose. They have exquisite flowers that come in different shades such as white, dark purple and a brown-red. These will flower in the absolute dead of winter, giving you colour when you most need it. They also have beautiful foliage for when they’re not in bloom. They grow into a large and low bushy mound that look really good all year. People will often buy a large number of one colour and mass plant it for a cohesive look. It’s a hardy plant that grows in the deepest shade.

So there you have it. We’ve looked at shrubs, ground covers, hedges, and climbers. Of course this list is not exhaustive of every plant that does well in the shade, so if you’re still looking for other options, come book a free garden design with me. With my garden design you can get a plan drawn up that is specifically tailored to your wants and the suitability of your garden. If you just want to have a look around, the best way to tell if you like a plant is to come in store and take a look at in person. I can’t wait to see all the gorgeous colourful gardens that persevere despite the shade.

See you next week,


Feeling inspired to create your own garden, but want some expert advice? Try our one-on-one garden design service with Chris. Together you’ll come up with a selection of plants along with a layout plan that gives you the look you want, as well as being suitable for your local soil and conditions.

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