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

Umbellularia californica

Common Name: California bay
Plant Type: Tree, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Partial sun
Height: 30 ft. - 50 ft.   Width: 30 ft. - 50 ft.

Shrubs

Berberis aquifolium ‘Compacta’

Common Name: Oregon grape
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.

Calycanthus occidentalis

Common Name: Spice bush
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 8 ft. - 10 ft.   Width: 8 ft. - 10 ft.

Carpenteria californica + cv

Common Name: Bush anemone
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 5 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 6 ft. - 8 ft.

Cercis occidentalis

Common Name: Western redbud
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.

Osmanthus fragrans

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

Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii

Common Name: Catalina Cherry
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.

Rhamnus californica + cvs

Common Name: Coffeeberry
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.

Ribes malvaceum

Common Name: Chaparral currant
Plant Type: Shrub
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 4 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 4 ft. - 6 ft.

Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosum

Common Name: Red flowering currant
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.

Ribes speciosum

Common Name: Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun
Height: 4 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 4 ft. - 6 ft.

Rosa californica

Common Name: California wild rose
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 3 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 8 ft. - 10 ft.

Perennials and Grasses

Achillea millefolium + cvs

Common Name: Common yarrow
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.

Carex divulsa

Common Name: Berkeley sedge
Plant Type: Grass, Sedge
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 18 in.   Width: 18 in.

Carex pansa

Common Name: California meadow sedge
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.

Carex praegracilis

Common Name: Western meadow sedge
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.

Chondropetalum tectorum

Common Name: Small cape rush
Plant Type: Perennial, Rush
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.   Width: 5 ft. - 6 ft.

Dianella revoluta ‘Little Rev’

Common Name: Dwarf flax lily
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.

Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’

Common Name: Variegated flax lily
Plant Type: Perennial
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 2 ft.   Width: 2 ft.

Erigeron karvinskianus

Common Name: Mexican daisy
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.

Festuca californica

Common Name: California fescue
Plant Type: Grass, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Partial sun
Height: 1 ft. - 2 ft.   Width: 1 ft. - 2 ft.

Fragaria vesca

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

Heuchera cultivars

Common Name: Coral bells
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 12 in. - 15 in.   Width: 12 in. - 15 in.

Heuchera maxima

Common Name: Island alum root
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Moderate shade
Height: 12 in. - 18 in.   Width: 12 in. - 18 in.

Iris douglasiana + cvs

Common Name: Douglas iris
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 12 in. - 18 in.   Width: 12 in. - 24 in.

Juncus patens

Common Name: California gray rush
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.

Juncus textilis

Common Name: Basket rush
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.

Lepechinia fragrans

Common Name: Fragrant pitcher sage
Plant Type: Perennial
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 2 ft.   Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.

Lomandra longifolia + cv

Common Name: Spiny-headed mat rush
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.

Salvia spathacea

Common Name: Hummingbird sage
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.

Ground Covers and Vines

Arctostaphylos edmundsii ‘Carmel Sur’

Common Name: Carmel Sur manzanita
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.

Arctostaphylos hookeri ‘Monterey Carpet’

Common Name: Monterey Carpet manzanita
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.

Berberis aquifolium ‘Compacta’

Common Name: Oregon grape
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.

Berberis repens

Common Name: Creeping barberry
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.

Clematis lasiantha

Common Name: Chaparral clematis
Plant Type: Vine
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Partial sun
Height: 12 ft. - 18 ft.   Width: 12 ft. - 18 ft.

Ribes viburnifolium

Common Name: Evergreen currant
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.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Common Name: Star jasmine
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.

Vitis californica + cv

Common Name: California grape
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.