Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time

Top 20 Native and Adapted Shade Plants for Austin

Of all the landscape designs I’ve created in last 20 years, shade gardens in Austin are by far the most challenging. I’ve compiled some of my favorite native and adapted shade plants for Austin. We have very little color for shade so it’s Important to use a lot of texture with a splash of color where you can find it.

1)Tropical Salvia 

Tropical Salvia

From sun to shade, low to moderate water. Hummingbirds love it. 

2)Dwarf Ruellia 

Dwarf Ruellia

Another great plan from sun to shade, low water, low maintenance.

3)Soft Caress Mahonia 

Soft Caress Mahonia

Low to moderate water needs, beautiful texture and yellow flowers.

4) Japanese Aurelia 

Japanese Aurelia

Japanese Aurelia

With low to moderate water needs, this interesting plant does beautifully in deep shade to part sun.

5) Possumhaw Holly Tree

Possumhaw Holly with berries

Possumhaw Holly Tree

Thriving in sun to shade, losing its leaves in the winter, exposing the bevy of berries for wildlife. 

6) Firebush

Flowering Firebush


Deciduous and low water, this is a great way to attract butterflies and hummingbirds in the shade to part sun garden. 

7)American Beauty Berry

American Beauty Berry plant with berries

American Beauty Berry


Wildlife love the berry buffet. Low maintenance and growing to 6’, it’s worth every foot and does great in deep shade to part sun.

8) Japanese Maple Tree

Garnet Japanese maple with lemon Balm ground cover, shade plant

Japanese maple varieties for zone 8 can be super hardy in deep shade to part sun. Sporting interesting texture and fall color. 

9) Purple Oxalis 

Flowering Purple Oxalis , shade plant

Purple Oxalis

Lovely purple leaves and lavender flowers cover this low mounding perennial. It’s short stature makes it a great border plant.

10) Blue Plumbago 

Flowering Blue Plumbago

Blue Plumbago

The bright green leaves and glow in the dark blue flowers are spectacular in shade to part sun. 

11) Jerusalem Sage

Blooming Jerusalem Sage

Jerusalem Sage

Yellow flowers, like crowns along the stems. With true sage colored leaves with silver undersides, this plant is an all around winner from sun to shade. 

12) Foxtail Fern

Foxtail Fern

Fortail Fern

I love this funky plant in pots and the landscape from sun to shade which makes it an incredibly versatile plant. 

13) White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset

White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset

White Mistflower

Incredibly fragrant, with fuzzy white flowers and uniquely shaped leaves. It’s a great choice from part sun to shade. 

14) Flax Lily Dianella 

Flaxlily Dianella, shade plants

Flax Lily Dianella

This variegated plant is striking as a border plant or in mass. Producing delicate orchid like flowers, it’s great from shade to part sun. 

15) Liguilaria, Leopard Plant

Flowering Liguilaria , Leopard Plant, shade plant

Liguilaria, Leopard Plant

Loving a wetter soil, this deep shade plant is perfect for a low spot or where drainage is a challenge. 

16) Turks Cap

Flowering Red Turks Cap, shade plant

Turks Cap

I love Turks cap for its ability to thrive in full sun to deep shade with little water and low maintenance. 

17) Dwarf Pittosporum 

Dwarf Pittosporum

Dwarf Pittosporum

Dwarf Pittosporum is an evergreen, low mounding shrub that has bright green, new growth with a deep green background. White fragrant flowers in the spring, low water, low maintenance. 

18) Mountain Laurel

Flowering Mountain Laurel

Mountain laurel tree

Most people don’t realize how well Mountain Laurel do in the shade, but it’s true!

19) Giant Liriope

Giant Liriope, shade plant

Giant Liriope

Unlike its wandering little cousin, the Giant Liriope is a superstar, low water beast in the shade. 

20) Twistleaf Yucca

Twistleaf Yucca

Twistleaf Yucca

Native, low water and light reflecting. 

These are just some of the many beautiful shade plants for Austin and the surrounding area. If you would like help with shade plant selections or a thoughtful landscape design for shade, contact me at!

Examples of My Shade Garden Designs

Shade garden. Landscape Designer, Lisa LaPaso

Shade plant landscape design, Lisa LaPaso,

Shade garden design, Lisa LaPaso, landscape Designer, austin

Deer resistant, shade garden for Austin, landscape designer Lisa LaPaso

Shade garden for Austin, landscape designer, Lisa LaPaso

Shade garden for wet soil, Lisa LaPaso, landscape designer

Xeriscape garden with dry creek bed

I hope you’re encouraged to try some of these great plants no to explore the many native and adopted options for our region.

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design

”Saving the Planet One Yard at Time”


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: