8 Perfect Plants for a Shady Porch

Pink and white Victorian style house with a wrap porch and flower garden with white picket fence.
My Garden Life
March 25, 2024
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If you have a shady porch that doesn’t get much sunlight throughout the day, you may think there are no options for growing plants there. In fact, you may have already tried and failed in the past, by making plant selections that simply couldn’t thrive under those low light conditions. The key to growing plants on a shady porch is all about making the right plant choices right from the start.

Different Ways to Grow Plants on a Shady Porch

Hanging Baskets

Whether you have a big deck, a front porch, or just a tiny balcony, a hanging plant brings color and life to your space, making it more inviting to “sit a spell” and relax. Hanging baskets are an excellent way to take advantage of available vertical space and maximize your growing opportunities. Hanging plants on a front porch also add greatly to your home’s curb appeal.

A purple and pink fuchsia hanging basket in the corner of a shady porch with white brick background.

Shade Plants in Pots

Potted plants can range from a small pot on an end table to large planters framing a doorway. Either option can be filled with shade tolerant plants that will add a natural, relaxed feeling to your porch. If you are growing plants that don’t produce showy flowers, you can still infuse some color in your design scheme by selecting pots that are boldly colored or textured to add extra interest.

Many different colors and types of coleus plants in terra cotta pots decorate a terrace.

Wall Planters

Vertical wall units and wall-mounted pots for growing plants are easier than ever to find and they’re perfect for growing shade-tolerant plants on a shady porch. Depending on the size of the planting units, you may need to stick with smaller annual plants that won’t overwhelm your porch or outgrow the planting space before the season ends.    

Salmon pink New Guinea impatiens potted in a terra cotta wall planter attached to a brick porch pillar.

Plants for a Shady Porch

There are plenty of plants that thrive in hanging baskets or pots in shaded spaces and look spectacular doing it! Here are eight plants that you can count on to add life, color, and interest to your shady porch.

1. Begonia (Begonia species)

Begonias are the shade champions! Their flowers come in a wide range of colors, from delicate whites and soft pinks to bright reds, yellows, and oranges. Some begonias are grown mainly for their colorful foliage. Begonias bloom all summer and make for spectacular hanging baskets for a front porch.

A lush basket of pink angel wing begonias hanging on a shady porch.

2. Impatiens (Impatiens hybrids)

Impatiens are low-maintenance plants that thrive in partial to near-full shade. They work well as hanging or container plants and are a popular choice for window boxes. Impatiens bloom profusely through the summer and into the fall.

A bowl planter filled with pink Impatiens walleriana.

3. Variegated Vinca Vine (Vinca major ‘Variegata’)

Variegated vinca vine tolerates high humidity and does well in partial and deep shade. The vines are gorgeous spilling from a hanging basket or vertical wall planter. Plants may produce charming blue flowers along the stems if they get some sun part of the day.

Close up of the violet-blue flowers of a variegated vinca vine-Vinca major 'Variegata'.

4. Coleus (Solenostemon hybrids)

Coleus proves that no flowers are needed to earn a top spot as a popular porch plant! Coleus is a plant that produces fabulously colored leaves, often dramatically variegated in colors ranging from shades of green, to white and yellow, to deep pinks. Coleus can be grown in a hanging basket or a container and will happily thrive indoors near a bright window for the winter so you can keep the same plant for many years.

Pots of different coleus plants on a shady porch-Solenostemon hybrids.

5. Polka-Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)

Not only does the polka-dot plant have a name that is fun to say, but it’s also a showstopper of a plant for a shady porch! The leaves pop with color in combinations of green with white, pink, or deep magenta spots. Polka-dot plants bloom but the flowers are not very showy and may be removed so the energy goes into maintaining a lush plant.

Close up of pink, white, and red polka dot plant foliage-Hypoestes phyllostachya.

6. Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)

Creeping fig is another great choice for a hanging basket. In nature the vines creep along the ground, over rocks, and up trees. In a hanging planter the vines will creep over the sides creating a lush, drape of foliage that offers a lush tropical look and a touch of privacy. Creeping fig also works well in tall pots, either on its own or surrounding taller plants, where the vines can spill down the side of the planter. Look for variegated creeping fig varieties for an added touch of color and interest.

Decorative white ceramic pot with creeping ficus plant on an outdoor wooden table-Ficus pumila.

7. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’)

Boston fern became a popular plant for growing on shady porches back in the Victorian era. It has remained a classic summer porch plant ever since and is especially beautiful when grown in a hanging basket where the long fronds can drape freely.

A large planter of Boston fern on a shady porch next to a doorway and with an Adirondack rocking chair in the background.

8. Fuchsia (Fuchsia hybrids)

The fascinating flowers of the fuchsia plant bring an exotic touch to your shady porch. They’re available in a wide variety of color combinations and are especially beautiful in hanging baskets where the long stems and blooms can dangle freely. 

A large pot with a red and white fuchsia plant in full bloom on a shady porch.

Houseplants for a Shady Porch

Many houseplants are suitable for growing on a shaded porch through the summer and it’s a great way to give your plants a little summer vacation. Foliage plants also give your porch a tropical vibe, especially vining types that can trail from hanging baskets. If you’re interested in houseplant selections for hanging planters, you’ll want to see our plant list in, 7 Houseplants for Hanging Planters. Choose the right plants for your shady space and enjoy relaxing there all summer long!

Many potted foliage plants surround a rustic table and chairs on a Mediterranean style veranda.

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