Best Pot Plants for Shade

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What are the best pot plants for shady areas?

Burke’s Backyard list of the top 10 best pot plants for shade. Don has listed plants to suit a variety of climates. To find out which ones grow best in your area, check with your local nursery. Note: not all shade-tolerant plants do well in a pot, but these ones do!

10 best pot plants for shade


Clivia (Clivia miniata)

Has dark green, strap-like foliage and orange flowers. New varieties are available with red, cream and yellow flowers. Prices vary depending on the variety, but the new varieties are the most sought after and the most expensive. Clivias grow everywhere in Australia except for the mountains. View more about growing Clivia here.

Daphne Odora

Daphne (Daphne odora)

Actually does better planted in pots than in the ground, because it is susceptible to root rot and pots provide the perfect drainage it needs. It is grown mainly for its fabulous, perfumed flowers. Daphne grows best in the cooler areas of Australia. Expect to pay upwards of $30 for a 200mm (8″) pot. View more about growing Daphne here.



Camellias will flower and grow happily in pots for many years. Sasanquas grow well in part-shade to full sun, while japonicas prefer a shaded position. View more about growing Camellias here.



Particularly the smaller varieties, are well suited to pot culture. Your local nursery can suggest the best varieties for your area. View more about growing Azaleas here.

Ponytail Palm

Ponytail (Nolina recurvata)

Has a curious swollen base. It makes an attractive pot plant and will also take full sun. The ponytail plant will grow everywhere in Australia, except for the mountains. View more about growing Ponytails here.



Varieties will grow in all areas of Australia. They have beautiful flowers and they often have interesting foliage. They do best in a shady position. View more about growing Bergonias here.

Palm - Lady Palm


Palms including rhapis palm (Rhapis excelsa) and kentia palm (Howea forsteriana). Can be grown in pots in a shady position. They are readily available from most nurseries and cost  $25+ for 200mm (8″) pots. View more about growing Palms here.

2 Potted Ferns


Of all kinds do well in pots. They thrive in shady, moist, humid conditions. View more about growing Ferns here.



Need an open, free-draining potting mix and a sheltered position. The most popular orchid grown is the cymbidium, but many other kinds are available including cattleyas, dendrobiums, slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum) and moth orchids (Phalaenopsis). Orchids in pots can be brought inside the house when in flower for a beautiful, long lasting display. View more about growing Orchids here.

China doll (Radermachera sinica)

Is a Chinese native with glossy, dark green leaves and an elegant growth habit. It does best as a garden plant in the warmer areas of Australia, but also makes an attractive pot plant. China doll is readily available from nurseries.

Growing tips

When you buy a new plant, always repot it into a larger sized pot than it was growing in. Most potted plants grow best in good quality potting mix (orchids require orchid mix). Most potted plants need to be kept very well watered but should have excellent drainage. For best results check that drainage holes in pots are adequate and water regularly or install a micro-irrigation system for potted plants. To improve drainage and to keep plants well contained, always elevate potted plants slightly using chocks or pot feet.

Choosing the right plants is half the battle. Some plants (such as roses, most Australian natives, most fruit trees and most vegetables) hate growing in pots. They will always struggle and they will never look good. Others love having their roots contained, so they thrive and flower well in pots.

Further information

Staff at your local nursery or garden centre will be able to advise you on the best pot plants for your climate and particular situation.