20 colorful plants for shade gardens

Plant some of these beauties for great garden color, even in shade

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Japanese forest grass
Photo by Terra Nova

Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’)

Gracefully arching leaves give this perennial grass the look of a cooling fountain. Green with long yellow stripes, the leaves turn chartreuse in dense shade; in full sun in cooler climates, they turn creamy pale yellow.

Display a single plant in a pot, or plant in drifts at the front of a border to create a drapey edging.

Zones 2b–9, 14–24.

More: Japanese forest grass in the Sunset Plant Finder


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