ProblemSolver Plants for Dry Shade
Few, if any, plants prefer to grow in dry soil in shade but some are able to tolerate these conditions once established and still look presentable. None will survive extended periods of drought without watering and all will do best if they receive average moisture. On the other hand, too much water can cause root rot of these drought-tolerant plants. Click on "More plants" below for a list of related cultivars and species. They may differ in size, foliage or flower color. Following are a number of plants to consider.
 
ProblemSolver Plants for Dry Shade

Aesculus parviflora
Bottlebrush buckeye
Decideous shrub

Bottlebrush buckeye is noted for being one of the best summer-flowering shrubs for shade areas. It is a dense, mounded, suckering, deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub which typically grows 6-12' tall. Blooms June to July.

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Hypericum calycinum
St. John's wort
Decideous shrub

A stoloniferous subshrub or shrublet, typically growing 12" (less frequently to 18") high and 24" wide, usually planted as a ground cover. It features large, rose-like, 5-petaled, yellow flowers (2-3" diameter) having numerous, bushy stamens with reddish anthers.  Blooms July to August.

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Kerria japonica 'Plenifolia'
Japanese kerria
Decideous shrub

Japanese kerria is a tough-but-graceful, spring-flowering, deciduous shrub. It typically grows to 3-6’ tall and to 6-8’ wide on slender, arching, yellowish-green stems that remain an attractive green in winter.  ‘Pleniflora’ is a very popular double-flowered cultivar that features rounded, pom-pom-like, yellow flowers to 2” diameter. Blooms April to May.

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Polystichum acrostichoides
Christmas fern
Fern

Christmas fern is a Missouri native fern which occurs in both dry and moist wooded slopes, banks and ravines. Typically grows in a fountain-like clump to 2' tall and features leathery, lance-shaped, evergreen fronds. Non-flowering.

Begonia grandis
Hardy begonia
Herbaceous perennial

Hardy begonia is the only species of Begonia that is winter hardy to the St. Louis area. It is a monoecious, tuberous-rooted, clump-forming perennial that typically forms a bushy mound of foliage to 2’ tall on branching stems. Blooms July to October.

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Bergenia cordifolia
Pigsqueak
Herbaceous perennial

Bergenia is a clump-forming perennial which is primarily grown as a ground cover. Features large rosettes of leathery, glossy, toothed, rounded, dark green leaves (to 10" long by 8" wide) which are heart-shaped at the base. Leaves typically form a thick, slowly-spreading clump of foliage to 12" tall. Blooms April to May.

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Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphurium'
Bishop's hat
Herbaceous perennial

Epimedium are rhizomatous, clump-forming perennial that can tolerate dry conditions. 'Sulphureum', which typically grows 8-12" tall and is primarily used as a ground cover or edger in shady or woodland areas. It features short-spurred yellow flowers which appear in racemes above the foliage in spring. Blooms in April. Nice fall color.

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Helleborus orientalis
Hellebore
Herbaceous perennial

Lenten rose is a clump-forming, late winter-blooming perennial which typically grows 1-1.5' tall. Features large, cup-shaped, rose-like, usually nodding flowers (3-4" diameter) with center crowns of conspicuously contrasting yellow stamens. Flowers usually appear in clusters of 1-4 on thick stems rising above the foliage. Blooms in April.

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Hosta 'Gold Standard'
Hosta
Herbaceous perennial

Hostas prefer even moisture but ‘Gold Standard’ will tolerate some drought. It is a medium to large hosta that grows in a mound to 22" tall and to 36" wide. It features wide-oval, cordate, seersuckered, yellow leaves (to 8" long and 5" wide) with irregular dark green margins. Blooms July to August.

Lamium galeobdolon
Yellow archangel
Herbaceous perennial

This species of deadnettle, commonly called yellow archangel, is a stoloniferous, spreading perennial which is most often grown as a ground cover. Typically forms a loose mat of foliage (to 12" tall) which spreads indefinitely. Small yellow flowers bloom in June.

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Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy'
Spotted deadnettle
Herbaceous perennial

This spotted deadnettle cultivar is a mat-forming perennial ground cover which typically grows 6-8" high and spreads to 2-3' wide by sprawling stems that root as they go. Features oval, variegated silvery-white leaves with greenish margins. Small white flowers boom June to July.

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Pachysandra terminalis
Japanese pachysandra
Herbaceous perennial

Japanese pachysandra is a shrubby, evergreen ground cover which grows 8-12" high and spreads by rhizomes to form a dense carpet of rich, dark green foliage.

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Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum 'Variegatum'
Solomon's seal
Herbaceous perennial

This Solomon's seal cultivar is a rhizomatous, upright, arching perennial which typically grows in a mound to 1-2' tall on unbranched, angular stems. Pairs of small, bell-shaped, white flowers on short pedicels dangle in spring from the leaf axils along and underneath the arching stems. Flowers are sweetly fragrant. Blooms April to May.

Uvularia grandiflora
Large-flowered bellwort
Herbaceous perennial

This Missouri native wildflower is a clump-forming, erect plant that grows to 2' tall and features 1.5" long, pendulous, somewhat bell-shaped, yellow flowers with six, partially twisted tepals (petal and sepal look-alikes) and lance-shaped bright green leaves. Blooms April to May. A spring ephemeral. Requires removal of dead foliage by early summer.

Carex albicans
White-tinged sedge
Sedge

White-tinged sedge or oak sedge, is a rhizomatous perennial sedge that grows in a clump to 15-20" tall. In Missouri, it is found throughout the State, but most frequently in messic to dry upland forests and shaded ledges and less frequently in sandy bottomland forests.  Bright green leaf blades. Flowers bloom in late spring (May) on flowering stems rising to as much as 20" tall.

Buxus sinica var. insularis 'Wintergreen'
Korean boxwood
Broadleaf evergreen

Boxwoods are tolerant of dry shade and provide evergreen foliage. This cultivar is a dense, compact, many-branched, broad, mounded evergreen shrub. Slow annual growth, however height may obviously be controlled by pruning.

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Taxus × media 'Densiformis'
Yew
Broadleaf evergreen

Yews are easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils of near neutral pH in full sun to part shade. They tolerates a wide range of soils as long as drainage is good. Also tolerant of full shade and considerable pruning.

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Ptelea trifoliata
Hop tree
Tree

Hop tree is a dense, rounded, Missouri native, deciduous shrub or small tree which occurs in open woods, glades, ravines, thickets and prairies. Typically grows to 10-20' tall. Features compound, trifoliate, shiny, dark green leaves (each leaflet is 2-5" long) which turn greenish yellow in autumn. Blooms in June.

Recommendations from Our Website Users

Following are some additional plants you, our website users, have recommended:

Eleutherococcus sieboldianus 'Variegatus'  - aralia
Liriope muscari - lily turf
Liriope spicata - lily turf
Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low' - fragrant sumac