Plants are funny things. Give them the right conditions and they’ll usually thrive, but if they’re too wet or too dry, too hot or too cold they’ll wither and die.
Probably the two most important factors involved in growing plants of any type – whether it be flowers, vegetables or a lawn, are drainage and light.
If a sun-loving plant is put in the shade, it will quickly become etiolated – pale, leggy and weak and eventually, it will die.
If a shade loving plant is put in the sun, it too will fail.
Some plants are pretty good at adapting themselves to sun or shade. But before spending money, it’s as well to be forearmed and has a list to hand of plants that will be happy in the spot you’ve got planned for them.
Take wildflowers for example.
Meadow flowers are normally best suited to sunny spots, but some will live in the lea of trees or hedgerows and some of the smaller plants are well used to living in the shade of taller plants and grasses.
Some plants, such as these bluebells, thrive in shady conditions
A Useful List Of Wildflowers That Will Grow In Part Shade
|Common name||Binomial name||Appears in Meadowmat?||RHS Plants for Pollinators?|
|Betony||Betonica Officinalis||Yes: Traditional Meadowmat|
|Birdsfoot Trefoil||Lotus corniculatus||Yes: Traditional Meadowmat Yes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees||yes|
|Bluebell||Hyacinth non scripa||yes|
|Common Agrimony||Agrimonia eupotare||Yes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees||yes|
|Common Vetch||Vicia sativa||Yes: Traditional Meadowmat||yes|
|Cowslip||Primula veris||Yes: Traditional Meadowmat||yes|
|Dark Mullein||Verbascum Nigrum||yes|
|Garlic Mustard||Alliaria petiolata||Yes|
|Hairy St. John’s Wort||Hypericum hirsutum|
|Hedge Bedstraw||Galium mollungo||Yes|
|Hedge Woundwort||Stachys sylvatica|
|Herb Bennet||Geum urbanum||yes|
|Herb Robert||Geranium robertianum||Yes|
|Hemp Agrimony||Eupatorium cannabmum||Yes|
|Meadow Buttercup||Ranunculus acris||Yes: Traditional MeadowmatYes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees||Yes|
|Meadowsweet||Filipendula ulmaria||Yes: Traditional MeadowmatYes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees||Yes|
|Nettle-leaved bellflower||Campanula trachelium||yes|
|Oxeye Daisy||Leucanthemum vulgare||Yes: Traditional Meadowmat||yes|
|Ragged Robin||Lychnis Flos cuculi||Yes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees||Yes|
|Red Campion||Silene dioica||Yes: Traditional MeadowmatYes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees||yes|
|Ribwort Plantain||Plantage lanceolata||Yes: Traditional Meadowmat|
|Scarlet Pimpernel||Anagallis arvensis|
|Selfheal||Prunella vulgaris||Yes: Traditional Meadowmat||yes|
|Common Sorrel||Rumex acetosa|
|Sweet cicily||Myrrhis odorata|
|White campion||Silene alba||Yes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees||yes|
|Wood avens||Geum urbanum||Yes|
|Wood sage||Teucrium scorodonia||Yes|
|Yarrow||Achillea millifolium||Yes: Traditional MeadowmatYes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees||yes|
|Yellow Rattle||Rhinanthus minor||Yes: Traditional Meadowmat|
Wild Grasses That Will Grow In Part Shade
|Common Bent||Agrostis capillaris|
|Crested Dogstail||Cynosurus cristatus||Yes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees|
|Red Fescue||Festuca rubra ssp rubra||Yes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees|
|Sheeps Fescue||Festuca ovina||Yes: Traditional MeadowmatYes: Meadowmat for Birds and Bees|
|Slender Creeping Red Fescue||Festuca rubra ssp litoralis||Yes: Traditional Meadowmat|
|Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass||Poa pratensis|
|Sweet Vernal Grass||Anthoxanthum odoratum|
|Tufted Hair Grass||Deschampsia cepitosa|
|Wood Meadow Grass||Poa nemoralis|
A small area of wildflowers in the shade of a shed create a wildlife-friendly zone
Shade tolerant plants tend to grow naturally in woodland where they flower in spring before the leaf canopy gets too dense to let sunlight through. Often, these plants have beautiful foliage can be just as interesting in the garden as colourful flowers.
As you can see from the table above, many shade-loving wildflowers are also good sources of pollen and nectar for pollinating insects.
What the table doesn’t show is that some are also larval food plants for butterflies and moths. and so by establishing at least some shade-loving wildflowers in your garden you will be supporting those all-important pollinating insects.
Establishing Wildflower Turf In Shade
There are three main ways of establishing wildflowers. Seed, pot grown plants and wildflower matting (aka wildflower turf). These are described more fully in my blog about planting wildflowers
Wildflower turf is by far the quickest and easiest way of establishing native plant species but it is important to be sure that you are using the right wildflower turf in the right place.
Meadowmat wildflower turf contains some plants and grasses that will adapt themselves to part shade.
Woodland shade Meadowmat is a mixture of wildflowers and grasses that are naturally adapted to living in the dappled shade of a woodland canopy.
Wherever Wildflower turf is established, the species will adapt themselves to the local conditions. Soil type, sun, shade, management, and weather will all affect which species thrive, survive or give up altogether.
Best Wildflower Mix For Shade
If you have a shady spot in your garden where you would like to plant some wildflowers, provided it isn’t deep shade, I would recommend laying our Woodland Shade Meadowmat wildflower turf OR sowing a speciality wildflower seed mix. You could also underplant it with spring-flowering bulbs such as bluebells or aconites.
To compare different types of meadowmat, click here