Select plants, such as impatiens, that prefer afternoon shade.

The Best Plants for East-facing Gardens

by Caryn Anderson

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced gardener, choosing the right plant for your outdoor space is crucial for successfully creating your garden. East-facing gardens typically get sun exposure from morning through the middle of the day. Any plants in an east-facing garden will be shaded from the heat of the afternoon sun, so you want to avoid choosing heat-loving, sun-loving plants. Instead, choose plants that grow in partial shade, since they generally prefer growing in areas that receive sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.


Choose annuals that prefer partial shade. Some examples include impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), which are a widely used annual in many gardens. These colorful plants typically bloom from early summer until the first frost, with pink, purple, red, or white flowers. They typically grow 6 to 30 inches tall and grow well in well-drained, evenly moist soil. Another option is the wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri), which blooms with trumpet-shaped flowers in colors such as light bluish lilac with dark purple edges, pink burgundy, white and rose. This shrubby annual grows 6 to 12 inches tall and wide and prefers growing in moist soil.

Foliage Plants

Although many gardeners may initially think of flowering plants as the only way to add color to the garden, plants that are grown specifically for their foliage add texture and visual appeal to the space. Some of these plants are well suited to east-facing gardens, including hostas (Hosta), which are perennials that bloom with pretty flowers, but are grown primarily for their foliage. Hostas are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. Plant foliage is in varying shades of green, with some varieties having white or gold variegation. Polka dot plants (Hypoestes phyllostachya) are another eye-catching plant. This low-maintenance annual has freckled and spotted foliage in colors such as red, white, pink and green. Plants grow 6 to 18 inches tall.

Flowering Perennials

Flowering perennials add reliable color to the east-facing garden. Showy plumes of garnet-colored flowers bloom on Fanal astilbe (Astilbe x areandsii "Fanal") in spring and summer. This shade-loving perennial grows up to 2 feet tall. It does well in areas that get full to partial shade and it is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. Gardeners looking for spring-flowering perennials may consider planting Lenten roses, also known as helleborus (Helleborus orientalis). This flowering perennial is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. It grows roughly 12 to 18 inches tall and blooms with white, purple or pink flowers in spring.


Shrubs add privacy and height to the garden. Shrubs that grow in partial shade include "Carolina Midnight" lorpetalum (Loropetalum chinense f. rubrum "Carolina Midnight"), which is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10. It grows up to 15 feet tall and has dark purple foliage and blooms with fuchsia-colored flowers in spring. Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica) is another option. It's hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9 and grows roughly 6 to 10 feet tall and wide. It adds tropical appeal and attracts hummingbirds with its drooping pink, red, purple or white flowers that bloom throughout the summer season.

About the Author

Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.

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