Description

Shade of some type is a common occurrence in most landscapes and gardens. It can range from deep and virtually year round as in the case of spaces confined by tall buildings, or ephemeral on a daily basis as the angle of the sun changes throughout the day. Shade often increases as trees mature, impacting the understory plants that were adapted to greater levels of sun. Some plants need this shade to avoid sunburn to soft foliage and to reduce heat and evapotranspiration stress.

This list includes plants that are adapted to varying amounts of shade, and that often do best with regular moisture throughout the year. Not too many species grow in deep shade; instead, most plants on this list do well in partial shade during the day and different seasons of the year.

Plant List

Trees and Palms

California bay

Botanical Name: Umbellularia californica
Plant Type: Tree, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Partial sun
Height: 30 ft. - 50 ft.   Width: 30 ft. - 50 ft.

Shrubs

Bush anemone + cv

Botanical Name: Carpenteria californica
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 5 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 6 ft. - 8 ft.

California wild rose

Botanical Name: Rosa californica
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 3 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 8 ft. - 10 ft.

Catalina Cherry

Botanical Name: Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 30 ft. - 45 ft.   Width: 20 ft. - 30 ft.

Chaparral currant

Botanical Name: Ribes malvaceum
Plant Type: Shrub
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 4 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 4 ft. - 6 ft.

Coffeeberry + cvs

Botanical Name: Rhamnus californica
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 8 ft. - 10 ft.   Width: 8 ft. - 10 ft.

Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry

Botanical Name: Ribes speciosum
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun
Height: 4 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 4 ft. - 6 ft.

Oregon grape

Botanical Name: Berberis aquifolium 'Compacta'
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 18 in. - 24 in.   Width: 3 ft. - 5 ft.

Red flowering currant

Botanical Name: Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosum
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 6 ft. - 12 ft.   Width: 5 ft. - 6 ft.

Spice bush

Botanical Name: Calycanthus occidentalis
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 8 ft. - 10 ft.   Width: 8 ft. - 10 ft.

Sweet olive

Botanical Name: Osmanthus fragrans
Plant Type: Shrub
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 12 ft. - 15 ft.   Width: 8 ft. - 10 ft.

Western redbud

Botanical Name: Cercis occidentalis
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 15 ft. - 20 ft.   Width: 15 ft. - 20 ft.

Perennials and Grasses

Basket rush

Botanical Name: Juncus textilis
Plant Type: Grass, Rush, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 2 ft. - 3 ft.   Width: 5 ft. - 6 ft.

Berkeley sedge

Botanical Name: Carex divulsa
Plant Type: Grass, Sedge
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 18 in.   Width: 18 in.

California fescue

Botanical Name: Festuca californica
Plant Type: Grass, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Partial sun
Height: 1 ft. - 2 ft.   Width: 1 ft. - 2 ft.

California gray rush

Botanical Name: Juncus patens
Plant Type: Grass, Rush, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 18 in. - 24 in.   Width: 18 in. - 24 in.

California meadow sedge

Botanical Name: Carex pansa
Plant Type: Ground cover, Grass, Sedge, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 8 in. - 10 in.   Width: 12 in. - 24 in.

California strawberry

Botanical Name: Fragaria vesca
Plant Type: Ground cover, Perennial
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 2 in. - 8 in.   Width: 2 ft. - 6 ft.

Common yarrow + cvs

Botanical Name: Achillea millefolium
Plant Type: Ground cover, Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 18 in. - 30 in.   Width: 18 in. - 30 in.

Coral bells

Botanical Name: Heuchera cultivars
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 12 in. - 15 in.   Width: 12 in. - 15 in.

Douglas iris + cvs

Botanical Name: Iris douglasiana
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 12 in. - 18 in.   Width: 12 in. - 24 in.

Dwarf flax lily

Botanical Name: Dianella revoluta 'Little Rev'
Plant Type: Perennial
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 18 in. - 24 in.   Width: 18 in. - 24 in.

Fragrant pitcher sage

Botanical Name: Lepechinia fragrans
Plant Type: Perennial
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 2 ft.   Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.

Hummingbird sage

Botanical Name: Salvia spathacea
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 12 in. - 18 in.   Width: 12 in. - 18 in.

Island alum root

Botanical Name: Heuchera maxima
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Moderate shade
Height: 12 in. - 18 in.   Width: 12 in. - 18 in.

Mexican daisy

Botanical Name: Erigeron karvinskianus
Plant Type: Ground cover, Perennial
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 15 in. - 20 in.   Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.

Small cape rush

Botanical Name: Chondropetalum tectorum
Plant Type: Perennial, Rush
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.   Width: 5 ft. - 6 ft.

Spiny-headed mat rush + cv

Botanical Name: Lomandra longifolia
Plant Type: Perennial
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 4 ft. - 5 ft.   Width: 4 ft. - 5 ft.

Variegated flax lily

Botanical Name: Dianella tasmanica 'Variegata'
Plant Type: Perennial
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 2 ft.   Width: 2 ft.

Western meadow sedge

Botanical Name: Carex praegracilis
Plant Type: Ground cover, Grass, Sedge, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 12 in. - 15 in.   Width: 12 in. - 15 in.

Ground Covers and Vines

California grape + cv

Botanical Name: Vitis californica
Plant Type: Vine, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 30 ft. - 40 ft.   Width: 30 ft. - 40 ft.

Carmel Sur manzanita

Botanical Name: Arctostaphylos edmundsii 'Carmel Sur'
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 18 in.   Width: 7 ft. - 10 ft.

Chaparral clematis

Botanical Name: Clematis lasiantha
Plant Type: Vine
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Partial sun
Height: 12 ft. - 18 ft.   Width: 12 ft. - 18 ft.

Creeping barberry

Botanical Name: Berberis repens
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 18 in. - 30 in.   Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.

Evergreen currant

Botanical Name: Ribes viburnifolium
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 5 ft. - 7 ft.   Width: 5 ft. - 7 ft.

Monterey Carpet manzanita

Botanical Name: Arctostaphylos hookeri 'Monterey Carpet'
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 1 ft. - 2 ft.   Width: 8 ft. - 12 ft.

Oregon grape

Botanical Name: Berberis aquifolium 'Compacta'
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 18 in. - 24 in.   Width: 3 ft. - 5 ft.

Star jasmine

Botanical Name: Trachelospermum jasminoides
Plant Type: Ground cover, Vine
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Moderate shade, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 18 in. - 24 in.   Width: 30 ft.