Our mission is to share the wonders of the natural world by publishing books from experts in the fields of gardening, horticulture, and natural history. Grow with us.

An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials

By W. George Schmid

Foreword by Allan M. Armitage

This is for gardeners who complain they have too much shade and are tired of hostas.

Boston Globe

Finding an array of unique and diverse plants for shade might seem like a daunting task, with limited options available to the gardener. Shade perennial expert W. George Schmid dispels this perception in his new encyclopedia. This companionable reference provides information on more than 7000 species and cultivars in 184 genera, from Acanthus to Woodwardia — some new to horticulture, others unjustly overlooked, but all beautifully suited to the shade garden.

Schmid has behind him a half century of practical gardening experience, horticultural education, and extensive travel observing shade perennials in their native habitats; readers are therefore treated to both useful growing tips and his personal associations with the plants. The expert text is rounded out with 500 stunning color photographs, many taken by the author himself.

Awards for this book: American Horticultural Society Book Award
Filed under: , ,

Media reviews

"Finding appropriate shade-loving plants is not as daunting a task as it once seemed. Schmid's hefty reference identifies, with detailed cultural information, over 7000 new and overlooked species and cultivars in 184 genera."

—Eboni A. Francis, Library Journal

"This botanical reference book covers more than 7,000 species and cultivars in 184 genera and provides the most devoted shade gardener with a wide array of interesting plants."

—Joanne S. Carpender, National Gardener

"Schmid provides in-depth details on topics such as soil preparation, watering and growth habits—enough information that you'll feel fairly confident you could grow pletny of the plants listed ... After making it throught this tome, you'll kind of miss Schmid's company."

—Lisa Van Cleef, San Francisco Chronicle

"You'll be thrilled to discover this large tome of shady characters. The best thing about it is that the author has grown and observed just about every plant he writes about, so the information is thoroughly practical."

—Kym Pokorny, Oregonian

"I've often complained I have too much shade, but the 7,000-plus species and cultivars in 184 genera of shade plants that Schmid presents in this easy-to-read reference make that complaint irrelevant."

—Denise Cowie, Philadelphia Inquirer

"I've often complained I have too much shade, but the 7,000-plus species and cultivars in 184 genera of shade plants that Schmid presents in this easy-to-read reference make that complaint irrelevant ... Schmid, who has been gardening for more than half a century, includes all the information you'd expect from an encyclopedia, but also mixes in comments about his own experiences with various plants."

—Denise Cowie, Philadelphia Inquirer

"A great companion to The Complete Shade Gardener."

Alberta Gardener

"An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials is not only comprehensive and authoritative, . . it's a fun read and a handy guide."

Northern Gardener

"This is an awesome resource."

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

"All in all, this book is a great resource book to anyone who shade gardens."

—Linda Cobb, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

"Because this book is such a complete, authoritative work, and because of its hefty price tag, this is a book most suitable for the serious gardener. But it also could be a great resource for gardeners just beginning to learn to grow in the shade."

—Gwen Fowler, Sun News

"This is a book with something for someone at every level of gardening experience."

Friends School of Minnesota

"Schmid has thoughtfully constructed the book with novice gardeners in mind—using plain English throughout ("heart-shaped" rather than "cordate," for example)—but has included enough detail for advanced gardeners to make the book valuable to both."

—Deanna Dority, Canadian Gardening

"We often hear friends or family comment that they struggle to grow plants in the shade. The book to help guide them out of their shady woes has arrived."

Michigan Gardener

"In these cash-challenged times I hesitate recommending such a costly reference. But its expansive content ... makes the book a good candidate for joint ownership and sharing."

—Helen Chesnut, Victoria Times Colonist

"This hefty book ... will propel you to your local nursery."

Old Farmer's Almanac Gardener's Companion

"This book should be recommended therapy for gardeners who grieve that they have little sun. Read it and rejoice in the shade!"

Perennial Notes

"Let the 500 pages of species and cultivars in An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials spice up your garden."

Garden Gate

"Let An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials spice up your sun-deprived areas with hundreds of diverse plant possibilities."

Garden Gate

"A pleasure to peruse ... it holds the keys to pleasure–filled shade gardening."


"The book is deserving of a place in every gardener's library where, I am positive, it will be one to be referred to many times, and each time provide good information and much enjoyment."

—John E. Bryan, Gardening Newsletter

"Anyone with a wooded lot will find it well worth its hefty price tag. Mr. Schmid's knowledge is truly encyclopedic—and based on 30 years' experience—but his common-sense attitude will win him friends, too."

—Judy Lowe, Christian Science Monitor

"Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials is a great buy. I am proud to have this book in my reference library."

—Duncan McAlpine, BackyardGardener.com

"Schmid dispels the myth that shade gardening is difficult."

Cleveland Plain Dealer

"An extensive list of perennial plants for shade, with each plant exhaustively described ... the book is of inestimatable value to gardeners in the Northwest and the cooler parts of California."

—John R. Dunmire, Pacific Horticulture

"An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials is a must."

—Michael Weishan, Country Living Gardener

"Schmid discusses all you need to know about soil preparation, exposure, degree of shade and hardiness—all in a readable, accessible style that steers clear of botanical language and technicalities."

—John Van de Water, Newark Star-Ledger

"This is for gardeners who complain they have too much shade and are tired of hostas."

—Carol Stocker, Boston Globe

"Schmid, a Georgia expert on hostas and other plants, includes his experiences and enthusiasms, enriching reference information on 184 genera and 7,000 species and cultivars."

—Marty Hair, Detroit Free Press

"With information on more than 7,000 species and cultivars in 184 genera, this proves to be the definitive guide to plants that thrive in the challenging shade environment."

Science News

"This book will greatly expand your horizons to include exciting, nonnative, non-invasive, shade-tolerant species for your shade garden. A separate section of the book is an absolutely magnificent 120 pages of 500 color photographs, most taken by the author. He offers a lot of firsthand, little-known information about each plant."

—Joel M. Lerner, Washington Post

"The lively content of this authoritative compendium offers up much more than a dry encyclopedic gathering of information ... Graciously guiding budding and sophisticated green thumbs, Schmid demystifies various types of shade, thus paving the way for gardeners to make knowing plant selections ... Abundant color photographs serve double duty as a useful and inspiring resource."

—Alice Joyce, Booklist

"This is a awesome resource; I have already found plants I have had difficulty identifying or finding information about in this book."

—Winston Dunwell, Nursery Views

"A reference that will be very well-used ... a wealth of information about the individual plants."

—Nicola Green Whaley, Leaf

"Friendly and personal, like talking with a good friend who just happens to be a gardening genius."

Juneau Public Libraries

"His love and knowledge of plants is evident on every page."

—Patricia A. Taylor, Trenton Times

"While the book's size and scope are vast, the writing is warm and intimate."

Gardener for the Prairies

"A book you will treasure for many years."

—Marty Figley, Michigan Observer and Eccentric

"Useful to home gardeners and professional horticulturists alike."

—Amy Wiberley, E-Streams

"This is a book with something for someone at every level of gardening experience."

Friends School of Minnesota

"This is an attractive book filled with easy-to-read text and practical advice. Reading this book will give gardeners hope and inspiration for shade gardening with perennials."

—January Adams, American Reference Books Annual

"Erudite yet eminently readable."

—Judy Glattstein, Greenwich Post

"The expert text is rounded out with 500 stunning color photographs."

American Nurseryman

"A valuable addition to any shade gardener's library."

—Lucy Watson, TheBookPlace.co.uk

"Plenty of practical advice for the gardener."

—Kathleen Freimond, Garden Wise

"An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials is well worth shelling out for."

—Ann Milovsoroff, Pappus

"What a treat!"

—Ann Lovejoy, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"If you're into shade gardening, this encyclopedia is a must."

Garden Hotline Newsletter

"An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials is a superb definitive reference to 7,000 species and cultivars from the author's 50 years of experience."

Avant Gardener

"Mr. Schmid's knowledge is truly encyclopedic ... but his common-sense attitude will win him friends."

—Judy Lowe, Christian Science Monitor

"This is more than a well-illustrated, encyclopedic alphabetical listing of plants with necessary botanical information on height, flowering, and preferred soil conditions, for Schmid also talks about how and why to use the various plants in the garden, and he does it with a personal touch."

—Ethel Fried, Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer

"With [this book] ... the woodland gardener cannot go far wrong."

—David Wheeler, Hortus

About the author

W. George Schmid

W. George Schmid studied botany, horticulture, and landscape architecture at the University of Munich. An avid gardener of shade plants, he is author of several books on shade perennials. George gardens at Hosta Hill in northern Georgia.

Read more about W. George Schmid

View large jacket image

This book is no longer available

Unfortunately, we don't have any copies of this book for sale.