Top of the pots - planting for shade

If you have a dingy lightwell or dark side return, using pots with a variety of shade-loving plants is perfect for adding a bit of fresh green and colour to make these areas more inviting.

There are plenty of gorgeous plants that cope with lower light levels, and not being in bright light means they’ll need less watering.  The delicate foliage of ferns works well for pots in shade, especially evergreen varieties such as Dryopteris erythrosora which has coppery leaves, Polystichum setiferum or polyblepharum.  Hostas also have really stunning foliage and come in a huge variety of different colours – some with attractive variegation which helps light up a shady corner.  Heuchera is another useful shade plant with big evergreen leaves, coming in a wide range of colours from lime green to purple with flower spires bearing pretty bells.

For structure, include a few larger evergreen shrubs such as Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ which is a compact variety and has soft almost fern-like foliage that can be underplanted with viola or cyclamen.  Fatsia with its large shiny evergreen leaves can add height to a shady plant collection – F. ‘Spider’ is a pretty variegated version.  A small tree such as an acer would also work well if there’s room.

For colour, include some pretty shade-tolerant perennials in pale pinks and whites to lighten things up such as Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’, A. ‘Wild Swan’, astrantia and thalictrum.  Make room for some hellebores for winter interest and plants such as brunnera for spring colour.  Liriope and the soft low-growing grass Hakonechloa macra would also work well for underplanting and as fillers.  Finally, trailers such as Vinca minor and muehlenbeckia will soften the pots and add another dimension to your shady pot display.