Since the yard and patio I currently have lie mostly in the shade of trees, I’m now looking at ideas for shade gardens in containers.

There are many positive benefits to gardening in containers.

Above are containers of plants and flowers from my former apartment patio.

Perennials That Grow In The Shade:

  • Hellebore (but only early in the season like in February & March)
  • Anemone
  • Hosta
  • Fern
  • Bee balm
  • Forget-me-nots
  • Lamb’s Ear
  • Primrose
  • Bellflowers

Herbs That Will Grow In The Shade:

In Pondering A Garden In The Shade, here is a pot of mint that will grow in shady conditions
  • Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lovage
  • Chives

It is wise to plant mint in containers because mint can take over a garden quickly. Mint is considered an invasive plant because it puts out runners that spread across the ground.

I’ve had many types of mint. But probably my favorite scent is chocolate mint.

I had lemon balm growing up through cracks in the sidewalk at my former apartment. So lemon balm will be on my list.

Annuals That Grow In The Shade:

  • Begonias
  • Impatiens
  • Sweet potato vine
  • Torenia (resembles snapdragons)
  • Coleus
  • Caladium
  • Viola
  • Oxalis
  • Elephant ears

Sweet Potato Vine:


As for annuals, I have always loved the sweet potato vine because of its beautiful chartreuse leaves that grow and grow and grow. So I plan to get sweet potato vine, as you get a lot of bang for your buck with this one.

Plus you can snip off stems and root them in other pots.

As for herbs, I plan on planting mint, lemon balm, and chives. I love chives on baked potatoes and various soups.


As for perennials, I’ll probably be getting hosta, ferns and Lamb’s ear, as I have experience with those plants. But I will want to try new-to-me plants as well.

I love hanging Boston fern plants and will consider one or two of those. They are so lovely with their green tendrils hanging down.

Perhaps I’ll also look into shade flowering plants. Like forget-me-nots, bee balm, primrose, and bellflowers. I have not previously grown forget-me-nots, primrose or bellflowers that I can recall.

I haven’t decided if I want to mix various plants in containers or go with one to three of one variety of plants. Of course, it’s important that whatever you plant, the plants’ needs are all the same.

So that will be a huge consideration.

Large Containers I Brought With Me:

Right now I only have 3 large plant pots and 2 galvanized containers. I’ll probably get more resin pots, as they are lightweight.

Before I left the other apartment, I dumped dirt out of several pots and brought them with me when I moved here.

I will have to figure out how close I am to a water spigot because there isn’t one in the back, though I know they have water irrigation underground.

I’ll also have to watch how the rain will drain off the higher portion of my yard space because too much water will drown roots. I don’t even know where I’ll place containers until I get an idea of how water drains here.

I wish I had a flat yard like everyone else here, but alas I do not. So I will have to work with what I have and see what I can come up with.

My Former Patio Garden:

My former patio garden in May of 2021

This was my former patio garden in May of 2021. I had many perennials after living there for 8 years. And many herbs that came back year after year.

In Pondering A Garden In The Shade, I recall the lemon balm that grew through the cracks of the concrete. I also plan to grow lemon balm here.

Here you see how big the mound of lemon balm already was by May of last year growing through a crack in the sidewalk. I will need to get lemon balm because lemon is a scent that repels insects.

Chocolate mint and golden pennies in my former raised patio garden

Above is the chocolate mint I enjoyed growing, even though it can become invasive.

Golden pennies seem to grow no matter where you put them unless it’s in a small container and getting too much sun.

In Pondering A Garden In The Shade, I sure wish I had the violas and hostas I left behind in the raised garden of my other apartment

Above are violas and hostas in the raised bed at the other apartment. I sure wish I had all those hosta plants now! I will just have to start over getting perennials going again.

Hopefully I can grow red flowered geraniums in semi-shade as I did here last year at the other apartment

Last year I had two pots of red geraniums. I had to move them more in the shade because the bright sunlight was too intense for them. Maybe I can also grow them here.

And so I’m starting over from scratch.

But a gardener is always a gardener and will start over when faced with an empty plot of ground space.

Gardening gets in your blood and when the temperatures warm up, gardeners are itching to get outside and dig in the dirt.


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  1. Hi Brenda, Thank you for using my comment. Could l ask one favor? When l comment, could you use only Mary C. as my name? For some reason, l am leery about using my full name on blogs. l am 81 years of age, and l think my generation is maybe too cautious with social media. You have my last name, Stoker, for your records. So maybe, this is not too much of a problem to set it up that way. Thank you, and l liked your post today. You are right, one little thing can often lead in a new and wonderful direction.

  2. I too, am excited to see what you do with your new garden. My mom had an appt. with the outside very much like yours, shady, staircase etc. She turned it into a delightful shady place that was so refreshing. She was in her 80’s and did it a little at a time. She placed her birdbath next to a tree ,had an english ivy for ground cover and then used whiskey barrels and all sorts of containers for her flowers. Your friends comments have named so many great plants. All of which would be so wonderful. Thanks for your blog, we love it!!!

  3. The garden in your former home was beautiful – what an oasis! Once you figure out your plan, this new home will be just as lovely, that I’m sure of. I’m guessing you might actually be enjoying the challenge of what to plant. I love my shade containers, that I fill with colorful caladium, coleus, impatiens and begonias. You’ve given me some inspiration, though, and I’m going to check out some of the plants on your list. Chocolate mint? I must find that !

  4. Your last patio garden was lovely as I’m sure this one will be too! Most of my yard is full sun. The front of my house is shade, though, and now, between your suggestions and your readers’ suggestions, I have lots of plants to consider. Thank you!!

    I just had my house re-sided and added a covered entry. This summer, I hope to add a front walkway and add some landscaping to pretty things up. I have a TON of Hosta and Chive I have to divide this season. If I lived closer, I’d give you some! I’m looking forward to seeing your garden come together…I’m sure it will be wonderful!

  5. Your old backyard is more than a patio garden in my opinion, it’s an oasis. Serene and calming and I’m sure the birds, butterflies and bees that visited would say the same thing. I’m certain you’ll work wonders in your new backyard and I’m looking forward to seeing what you do to transform the space. Thanks for taking us along on your journey. You beautify the world around you and I appreciate your willingness to share it all with us. I get so many ideas I can use myself. I’m going to hang cutting boards in my kitchen too.

  6. I grew coleus, several different colorful varieties in containers in my shade garden last season. They did very well, along with my impatiens and hostas. I love my shady garden and I think you’ll enjoy yours a lot, Brenda.

  7. Whatever you do, it will be pretty!! Looking forward to seeing how it comes together…when you feel better!!

  8. How about planting Ice Plants nestled in small shallow planters nestled in among the bricks/rocks in your yard? Their roots don’t require deep dirt and they spread quickly requiring minimal maintenance. Here in South Texas they are considered perennials but may be an annual for your area.

  9. It’s exciting starting over sometimes. I start a new garden almost every year. I do have several perennials, but I also have three dogs who love to dig for moles and rabbits, so I never know what will survive so I’ve started having raised beds and pots of flowers instead. Last year my flowers were so lovely and this year I’ve ordered twenty packages of flower seeds, some I have never grown before. I’m excited to see what happens. You have a green thumb, I can tell and I can’t wait to see what you are going to do with your “new” garden. +

  10. Brenda … How about using raised planters? You could get several to border your patio and they would eliminate having to bend or stoop. You could use a tall counter stool that would allow you to sit yet comfortably work in the planters when standing is uncomfortable. Just a thought! There are many options for them.

  11. I love hanging Boston ferns in a shade garden. Their prices have really gone up this year. I water mine with ice cubes to make the task easier and they melt fast in the heat of Summer.

  12. The list of plants you have written is extremely helpful. I believe that you will have another beautiful garden. Those blocks are there for a purpose and you will plant flowers to camouflage them.

  13. No doubt you will do amazing things with your outdoor space, Brenda, just as you always have. I love impatiens in the shade, they flower to beat the band all season long. I always include some white impatiens to brighten up shady areas, plus they glow in the waning light. Papa’s Garden gets morning sun and then it’s shade in the afternoon and the impatiens do extremely well there every year. I also have various types of hostas, sedum, dead nettle (GREAT shade plant!) peonies, bleeding heart, and a hydrangea tree. Ooh maybe Hydrangeas would do well in pots in your area?

  14. I rarely leave comments here but I just have to tell you how excited I am about your new apartment. I’ve read your blog daily since way before you moved to Oklahoma. You’ve made every home cozy, warm and inviting. I’m sure whatever you decide for your new garden, it will be fabulous.

  15. Brenda, Just reading about all the plants you’ve researched makes me excited to see what you come up with and what works and doesn’t work. I just moved to my present location a year and a half ago. I brought a few containers of plants (succulents, hydrangea, ferns, hostas and daffodils). Most of my containers are now full of squirrel holes and acorns. My plants were scattered all over the yard or are dead. Oak trees over my manufactured home and awnings drop acorns so fast and furious it sounds like a gang war outside. Even the neighbors rush out of their homes to see what all the noise is about. After a wind storm, the crows show up to gather by the hundreds and try cracking the acorns on my roof. Everyday is a learning experience. No experience is a bad one if I learn something from it. I’ll be watching and learning from your experiences also. Have a blessed day. Sandra

  16. I’ve had good luck with bleeding heart and astilbe in the shade. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    1. I agree Susan! I was going to suggest both of those to Brenda, also, as they are my favorite shade perennial! Astilbe’s have beautiful plume like flowers, and wonderful fern like foliage for when they are not in bloom. Not sure where you live as I am in MN, and I’m not sure how they would do in the OK heat.

    1. Brenda, I just thought of a fun post for the future. Wouldn’t it be fun to take the herbs you grow and use them in recipes you make? I just thought that would be some fun posts.

  17. I didn’t see Fuchsia on your list. Goodness, such a beauty! I had an extensive shade garden at our last house. Grew to absolutely love it. Cool and lush. I tucked secret gardens away in the greenery. We moved and now the gardens are full sun. Oh, how I miss the shade! Lucky you!

  18. Your patio looked like a nursery as it was so beautiful. I have great faith in you that this patio will be just as beautiful if not more. I’d love a big Boston fern but it just gets too hot here in the summer.

  19. Such a great list of possibilities! I have grown dark purple wishbone flower (torenia) & loved it. Having ferns would be so wonderful! Maybe think about a shepherd’s hook with a hanging basket in front of your kitchen window? It looks like that might be a sunny spot?

    I had a neighbor who ran a long garden hose from her kitchen tap to water plants. Not sure if that would be practical for you but an idea, anyway.

    I wonder if the property handyman could remove the cinder blocks and even out that area? Even if he can only remove enough for a walkway out from the patio, it would make it easier to garden.

    Like you, I’m getting excited about planting this year. Expecting lows in the 30’s here NW of Houston this weekend so I have to be patient. But I can buy more seeds while I wait 🙂

  20. I live in Eureka, CA where my potted plants can easily be overwatered in winter. To save then i found putting rocks in the bottom of pot or styrofoam. And most important, drain holes and pot must be off the ground 1/2 inch or more. Not easy, but not impossible. Gardening, planting encourages faith in future to see plants grow and bloom. I know your garden will florish in spring have faith and some fun. You have years to perfect your patio. Thank you for sharing your life with me/us. Susan B

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