Quick and Easy Summer Shade Containers 1-2-3

If your porch, patio, or balcony is more shady than sunny, don’t worry: we have container combinations for you!

We’ve talked about Quick and Easy Summer Sun Containers, now let’s talk about summer container gardening in the shade using the 1plant, 2 plants, 3 plants method as well…

One for Shade

When you’re gardening in shade or partial shade, you not only have plenty of pretty blooms to choose from, but also fabulous foliage!  

Choose a single variety that both blooms and provides season-long foliage interest. Heuchera creates a beautiful display, with its delicate, pretty flowers that appear in late spring or early summer—but the star of the show is the amazing foliage. From nearly black to chartreuse leaves, solid,  variegated or frilly, you’ll find a wide range of options to brighten your shady container space.

Hostas look gorgeous planted in container gardens as well, with dramatic leaves and adorable flowers that soar above the foliage. Look for hummingbirds, who enjoy the blooms too.

Begonias offer the perfect burst of color for shady container gardens. You’ll find a wide array of choices to brighten shady garden spaces like Benary’s Nonstop® Mocca collection, Syngenta Flowers LLC Begonia Grace™  series, American Takii Begonia Fiona series and Beekenkamp Dreams Garden MacaRoughe.
Begonia Nonstop Mocca Deep Red from our Breeder Benary
Begonia Grace™ Dark Red from Breeder Syngenta Flowers LLC
Begonia Fiona Pink from Breeder American Takii
Begonias in a container make a beautiful shade container for any spot on your patio - National Garden Bureau
You can easily create a gorgeous container garden by planting a single hydrangea. Many hydrangeas, especially the newer varieties, are more compact and do incredibly well in a decorative pot. Remember, for better flowering, place your hydrangea containers in a location that gets morning sun.
Hydrangea The Original by Endless Summer Hydrangeas - Year of the Hydrangea - National Garden Bureau

Two for Shade

Pick your favorite foliage plant—hosta, ferns, or heuchera—as a backdrop and add a burst of brightness with Fushia. There are many fun and interesting Fushia to choose from, tall or short, and in so many different colors. These plants have loads of bright, colorful blooms that cover the plant. Hummingbirds love these flowers, so place your container where you can enjoy the show. 

Or if you don’t want flowers, why not plant two types of coleus! With all the new coleus breeding, there is something for everyone.


Bella Fuchsia Evita from Beekenkamp

Three for Part-Shade

Whether you plant in sun or shade, the same design rules apply for three-plant combinations.  You can’t go wrong with the “thriller, filler, spiller” recommendation. Or another option is using three varieties of the same plant to create rich colors and texture.
Try the following pretty container combinations from our NGB members: 

  • Benary: Nassella tenuissima Pony Tails (thriller); Nonstop® Mocca Cherry Begonia (filler); Helichrysum petiolare Silver (spiller)
  • Danziger pre-planted combination: Twilight™ N.A. Bacopa: Scopia® Gulliver Blue; Scopia® Gulliver Blue Sensation; Scopia® Gulliver White
  • PanAmerican Seed: Beautiful Begonia: Dragon Wing® Red Begonia (thriller), Gryphon Begonia (filler) and Silver Falls Dichondra (spiller)
Beatuiful Begonia Combination for Shade Containers

Summer Shade Containers are as easy as 1-2-3!

“This post is provided as an educational/inspirational service of the National Garden Bureau and our members. Please credit and link to National Garden Bureau and author member when using all or parts of this article.”

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