Choosing plants to grow in type of soil and degree of shade

There are two things that will save time and money later and are fairly critical to your chances of producing a show winning display for the village show. Or a bountiful display for the harvest festival...... Seriously though, even if you are not into all that stuff these two things will help grow beautiful flowers and lovely fresh fruit and vegetables for yourselves.

Two must-know things before selecting plants for your garden.

Number One is the type of soil in your garden.  

  • Understanding your soil type is a big step toward a healthy garden.
  • At the very least, you need to know whether your garden soil is clayey or sandy.
  • Clay soil is rich in nutrients, but does not drain well and is hard to dig, some plants hate it.
  • Sandy soil drains too quickly and is low in nutrients, but Mediterranean type herbs love it.
  • Follow this link to find out what type of soil you have in your garden More about testing for soil type

The second is to measure the degree of shade or how much light shines into your garden.   


  • Different plants have different light requirements.  
  • If you plant Mediterranean type herbs in heavy shade they will grow tall and spindly searching for the sun and then keel over and die.
  • If you plant woodland plants in full sun they will get sunburn and shrivel up and die.
  • Follow this link to my article  how to measure the degree of shade in your garden 

Now you have worked out the type of soil and the degree of shade. Follow the links at the bottom of this page for lists of plants for types of soil and degree of shade to help select the best plants for your garden or containers. Sunny areas, Wet boggy areas or dry, even drought conditions. 

I have listed plants for Woodland and Hedgerow too these are mostly plants that tolerate shade.

Why is it important to select plants that suit the garden soil and growing conditions?

Some plants like to be walked all over, some crushed just now and then, some don't.
Some plants like life in the sun and sand, some prefer shade, some won't

The simple fact is plants won't thrive in growing conditions or soil that doesn't suit them. Most herbs won't grow in mud, bog plants won't grow in sand and colourful flowers won't do well in deep shade. It is as simple as that!

What happens if you plant or sow seeds that don't suit the soil, light or shade in your garden?


 Have you ever bought a favourite plant or received one as a special present and planted it only to see it fade away and die.

Plants are expensive even if you grow your own, so cost is one factor! Why waste money? Enjoyment is another and a sense of failure or achievement is important too.

There are of course other factors too:  

  • Spacing, Too many plants competing for food will result in smaller plants producing small blooms or fruit. However, that is not necessarily a problem if you prefer quantity over size, some smaller fruit and vegetables actually taste better anyway and a pot full of small flowers can look better than a half-full pot of full-size flowers.
  • Maintenance is another consideration, some plants need a lot of looking after and an untended garden can be a messy problem rather than enjoyable. Choose plants that fit in with your lifestyle if you haven't got a lot of time to spare select plants from the low maintenance list. 
  • Children are another consideration avoid poisonous plants, red berries are difficult to resist for curious kids. It is also wise to avoid taller plants that need staking up, the stakes are dangerous where children are likely to play among them.  Even stakes topped with those little plastic safety things can injure eyes.
  • Plants for all seasonsselecting plants that provide all year round colour means that from October on-wards we won't be looking at a grey canvas through our windows.


Links on this site to plants that will grow in your type of soil and garden conditions