Pollinator Plants for Shade


Pollinators will find what they need, no matter what; yes, even shade-loving plants have a pollinator.

The first thing to consider in selecting plants for shade is knowing the type of shade you have. Here’s is a Bee Better Naturally post that will help with this.

Remember, too, there is a lot of overlap. Don’t get too worried if your area is part sun or part shade. Measure the amount so you know for sure! Also, when is it shady. Morning sun is kinder than afternoon sun.

Here’s something to note for shade gardens. Have you ever noticed carpenter bees flying up against the windows of your house or hovering around dark holes in the lawn? Generally speaking, carpenter bees prefer to nest in shady areas. Find a location away from your home for nesting bees. Build a wood pile somewhere in a shady spot; it can even be in a less visible area. A wood pile is also shelter for a wide number of species including, snakes, lizards, chipmunks, and insects for birds to feed.

PARTIAL SUN / PARTIAL SHADE: These two terms are often interchangeable to mean 3-6 hours of sunlight each day. While the terms are interchangeable, there is a default understanding.

Partial shade typically refers to morning and early afternoon sun, while a plant listed as partial sun, relief from the intense late afternoon sun is needed. This shade could be from a structure or the shade from an old oak tree.


Lily of the Valley, Convallaria majalis


Jewelweed, Impatiens balsamina

Money plant, Lunaria annua

Toad Lily

Toad Lily


Campanula, Campanula americana

Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis

Blue mist flower, Conoclinium coelestinum 

Early meadow-rue, Thalictrum dioicum 

Joe-pye weed, Eutrochium purpureum

Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis

Downy skullcap, Scutellaria incana

Meadowsweet, Thalictrum dioicum 

Turk's Cap, Lilium superbum

Snakeroot, Ageratina altissima

Broadleaf goldenrod, Solidago flexicaulis

Toad Lily, Tricyrtis hirta

Lawn Violets, Viola spp.

Wild geranium, Geranium maculatum

Eastern Sweetshrub

Eastern Sweetshrub


Glossy abelia, Abelia grandiflora

Red chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia

Common sweetshrub, Calycanthus floridus

Summersweet, Clethra alnifolia

Cornelian cherry dogwood, Cornus mas

Red twig dogwood, Cornus sericea

Winter hazel, Corylopsis pauciflora

American Hazelnut, Corylus americana

Daphne, Daphne spp.

Paperbush, Edgeworthia chrysantha

Dwarf fothergilla, Fothergilla gardenii

Common Witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana

Oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia

St. Johnswort, Hypericum calycinum

American holly, Ilex opaca

Virginia sweetspire, Itea virginica

Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia

Leucothoe, Leucothoe axillaris

Northern bayberry, Myrica pensylvanica

Mock orange, Philadelphus spp.

Rhododendron, Rhododendron spp.

Fragrant sumac, Rhus aromatica

Tree Peony, Paeonia suffruticosa

Viburnum, Mapleleaf, Viburnum acerifolium

Viburnum, Arrowwood, Viburnum dentatum

Blackhaw, Viburnum prunifolium

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood


Japanese maple, Acer palmatum

Red maple, Acer rubrum

Red buckeye, Aesculus pavia

Serviceberry, Amelanchier canadensis

Pawpaw, Asimina triloba

Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida

Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis

White fringe tree, Chionanthus virginicus

Carolina silverbell, Halesia tetraptera

Persimmion, Diospyros virginiana

Sweetbay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana

Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum

Staghorn sumac, Rhus typhina

Ground Covers

Bishop’s weed, Aegopodium podagraria

Plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

‘Tangerine Beauty’ Cross Vine

‘Tangerine Beauty’ Cross Vine


Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata 'Tangerine Beauty’

Trumpet vine, Campsis radicans

DAPPLED SUN: Dappled sunlight is my favorite kind of sun, if I had to choose. Dapple sun is similar to partial shade. The plants are getting partial sun as it makes it’s way through the branches of a deciduous tree. Woodland plants and under plantings, even for many mosses, prefer dappled sunlight more so than partial shade.

Bulbs--under deciduous trees, providing a shady spot when they are in bloom.

Crocus, Crocus vernus

Daffodil, Narcissus

FULL SHADE:  Full shade means less than 3 hours of direct sunlight each day, best if it’s morning light. But even in the absence of  direct sunlight, full shade can be a bright light. Plus, full shade likes a filtered  sunlight the remainder of the day. Every plant needs some sun; even those that thrive in full shade.

Virginia Bluebells,  Mertensia virgin

Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virgin


Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica


Coming soon!?!


Pigsqueak, Bergenia cordifolia

Hostas, Hosta plantaginea 

Lungwort 'Lewis Palmer’, Pulmonaria 'Lewis Palmer’

White Wood Asters, Eurybia divaricata

Sweet box,  Sarcococca hookeriana  var.  humilis

Sweet box, Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis


Sweet box, Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis


American hornbeam, Carpinus caroliniana

Mahonia, Mahonia japonica


Climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris

Coral bells,  Heuchera  species and hybrids

Coral bells, Heuchera species and hybrids

Ground Covers

Blue Cohosh, Caulophyllum thalictroides

Bugleweed, Ajuga reptans

Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense

Astilbe, Astilbe species and cultivars

Lenten rose, Helleborus orientalis

Coral bells, Heuchera species and hybrids

Foamy bells, Heucherella hybrids

Russian arborvitae, Microbiota decussata

Mondo grass, Ophiopogon japonicus

Foam flower, Tiarella cordifolia