It can be paired with most colors, but it gives a zip to the color scheme because it is bright, yet soft.

One of the best ways to light up a shade garden is by using chartreuse plants. They definitely catch the eye in a way that is very different from bright red. And there are a fair number of plants that exhibit this bright, but soft color.

What is the definition of chartreuse? According to Merriam Webster dictionary:

"A variable color averaging a brilliant yellow green. It's versatile in that it can be combined with almost any color. At the same time, it is quite bold, and has the interesting effect of making small spaces look larger."

Here are a few plants that exhibit the color chartreuse:

Aralia 'Sun King'

Also known as Japanese spikenard, Aralia cordata 'Sun King' is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial that behaves rather like a small shrub. Requiring part shade, this 3 to 6 foot-high beauty lights up the shade. I have four of them, and although they require some care upon installation, mostly in the form of watering, it is worth the time and effort, however minimal it truly is. since it is absolutely stunning. The standard aralia is a pleasant plant. 'Sun King' is a golden leafed cultivar with golden yellow compound leaves. In summer it produces spikes of tiny white flowers. It retains its color throughout summer. At the end of the season it dies back, then astonishing the owner the following year by appearing out of seemingly nowhere to glow in the shade. It is particularly striking at the back of borders but is definitely a specimen plant. Given its tendency to die back, marking its location is a wise move.

This plant is hardy in zones 4 to 8, and needs some room because it is anywhere from 3 to 6 feet wide. And it is quick to develop. It will surprise you!

aralia 'sun king' plantfiles

Leucosceptrum japonicum 'Golden Angel'

Leucosceptrum japonicum 'Golden Angel' is, from what I can tell, a relatively unknown plant. It is referred to as Golden Angel Japanese shrub mint on the Monrovia site but the proper name is Leucosceptrum as previously noted. It is the golden leafed variety of a woodland perennial. Given the tongue twisting nature of the name, this is understandable. I found it as a tiny picture in a catalog for a very low price, and once I grew the plant, I realized that it can get quite large. It handles full shade beautifully, and lights it up. Native to Japan, it is a woody based perennial that effectively it actually functions as a small shrub. From a tiny plant, mine grew into the size of a fairly mature Hydrangea macrophylla.

Possessing a rounded growth habit that is most attractive, it has unusual long leaves, which are 3 to 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. It surprises by producing tiny flowers, each about three inches long in bottle brush type spikes in early fall. Maintenance is virtually nonexistent.

It's spread and height are 2 to 3 feet and it is hardy in zone 3 to 8.

gold angel plantfiles

Deutzia gracilis 'Duncan' Chardonnay Pearls

This is a Proven Winner that truly lives up to the name. It's a patented plant with lemon lime foliage which remains so all season. A personal favorite, this is a delicate looking but tough small shrub, hardy in zones 5 to 8. Deciduous, it is very flexible in that it can be grown in full sun to part shade, flowering best in full sun. The white pearl like flowers are numerous. The height and spread are two to three feet. It's great for many uses, from shrub borders to specimens, foundations and open spaces. The lemon lime foliage remains all season after the beautiful flowers appear in spring. The only maintenance appears to be cutting back any dead wood after bloom.

The height and width are 2 to 3 feet and it blooms for a few weeks in late spring. It is very low maintenance. I trim back any excessive growth in spring after bloom. In terms of longevity, I have owned my plant since 2005 and moved it from one home to another without the plant missing a beat.

deutzia 'duncan' plantfiles

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'

Also known as Japanese Wind Grass, this popular plant has many virtues. Hardy from zones 5 to 9, it's leaf color is controlled by the amount of sun exposure that it receives as well as the climate. In some areas it appears gold, but if grown in deeper shade, the variegation shifts to lime green. In the south, full shade is best, but partial shade works in more northerly aspects. Its height and spread are one to one and a half feet. Clumps spread by rhizomes, but this plant has not been identified as being invasive. It's a great naturalizer, and the icing on the cake is that it is both walnut and pollution tolerant.

It has a height and spread of one to one and a half feet.

Brighten up those borders with starter plant of 'Aureola'

japanese wind grass plantfiles

Cotinus coggygria 'Ancot' Golden Spirit

This smoke tree is a deciduous shrub hardy in zones from 5 to 8. It typically matures to a height as tall as 15 feet. Boggy soils are to be avoided, however it grows in most soils including clay. Easy to grow in full sun, it can either be allowed to bloom or cut back hard in spring to produce larger leaves. The flowers are so lovely that it would be wise to allow it to bloom at least once in order to observe the beautiful effect.

It blooms in late spring into summer but the fall color is also exceptional. Maintenance is extremely low.

cotinus plantfiles

Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'

Also known as a full moon maple, this is an easily grown small tree (16 to 20 feet tall and wide) that thrives in full sun to part shade. The best color, however is in part afternoon shade. It may scorch in full sun in the warmer parts of its range. Low maintenance, and blooming in April, it is hardy in zone 5 to 7. It can also be gown as a multi-stemmed shrub. It produces reddish purple blooms and has excellent fall color.

It should be sited, like most Japanese maples, away from strong winds, and do be aware that a late spring frost may damage the blooms but there is no long-term damage from this.

Here's a small 'Aureum' that can be shipped right to your door.

japanese maple 'jordan' plantfiles

Nicotiana alata, Lime Green

This great annual plant is a variant on the standard Nicotiana alata. This trumpet shaped annual plant has actually won awards. Growing to two feet tall, 'Lime Green' blooms from mid-summer to frost, and grows easily in average soil. The flowers open in the evening and stay open for most of the night - very nice for those who are gone during the day. This plant is easily started from seed, and it grows in most zones. You can buy it, but it is so easy to grow that you should give it a try yourself. I once threw a bit of seed outside and was rewarded with a permanent collection of this charming plant. Too much? Just pull it out!

Get a start with Nicotiana 'Lime Green' seeds this spring

nicotiana alata plantfiles

There are many beautiful plants in this vibrant hue. I hope that you will experiment with them to add another dimension to your garden.