10 Best Perennial Flowers for Shade

By January 20, 2020 Perennials No Comments
bush of hydrangea paniculata flowering

You may think that if you have a shade garden, it can’t include flowers. We’ve got good news for you! There are a number of flowers that can’t tolerate much sun and will only survive and grow in the shade. We all know about annuals like impatiens and begonias that will tolerate shade, but how about some perennial plants for shade that will last for years? Here are 10 shade-loving perennials for you to add to your shade garden.

Plants That Require Partial Shade

1. Starship Deep Rose Lobelia.  Plant these seeds two months before the last frost. This Starship Lobelia has unusual black stems with dark pink blooms. This plant will be 24 inches high in bloom but only eight inches wide, so it is a perfect choice for small spaces. The flower nectar is loved by hummingbirds. Blooming starts a little later but will last longer in the fall.

2. Magic Fountain Mix Delphinium Seeds. This mix contains seed for colors from rich blues to purple to pink and cream. The 24- to 28-inch-high plants with foot-long bloom stalks usually don’t require staking as the taller versions do. If started in late winter, your plants should bloom in the fall the first year and early to mid-summer subsequent years. Once established, shear them back after blooming and you may get a second flowering each year. These delphiniums do well in sun but better in partial shade in warmer climates. Grow in Zones 3-7.

3. Astra Double Mix Balloon Flowers.  This improved variety of balloon flower has full double flowers. The flowers are three inches across on mounding plants in white, blue or lavender. This plant will bloom mid-summer to fall. This perennial will do well in sun or partial shade. If you don’t want a mix of colors, you can purchase the seed in the color of your choice. Zones 4-9.

4. Harmony Double Scarlet Anemone. This beautiful perennial prefers partial shade. The bright watermelon red flowers average 3-1/2 inches across on a 12-inch-high plant. The best flowering is early spring when it will bloom with tulips and daffodils and then blooms again in fall. Can be grown in Zones 5-9.

5. Sunshine Columbine Seed. This beautiful Columbine in brilliant yellow is originally from Europe where it was an award-winning flowering plant.  The unique shape of the columbine is accented in this case by the long 2-inch spurs. Your columbine will bloom from late spring until mid-summer. Start these perennial flower seeds indoors about two months before the last frost date. Zones 3-8.

Full Shade Garden

shade loving plants growing

6. Dicentra Valentine.  This bleeding heart is essential in the shade garden. The hearts bloom on leafless stems above the foliage. They are one of the first bloomers in the spring. The leaves are purple-streaked green leaves that pop in the shade garden. This plant will be about 30 inches tall and wide. Hummingbirds love these flowers. Grow in Zones 3-9.

7. Blue Moon Woodland Phlox.  This is a phlox that will grow knee high in your woodland and will naturalize easily. These sky-blue flowers are beautiful to look at each spring, but they also have a lovely scent that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. This is a native woodland plant and will do very well in Zones 3-8.

toad lily blossoms closeup

8. Toad Lily. Unique is the word for this perennial! The Toad Lily grows long arching stems up to three feet long. Large pointed leaves grow on the sides of the stems, and right down the middle of the stem, this plant produces orchid-like flowers. The flowers bloom in October along the length of the stem. The blooms are rosy-lavender and white contrasting against the dark green of the leaves. They grow well in Zones 4-9.

9. Primula Belarina Buttercup. A shade garden can always use a pop of color, and this primula with its bright yellow flowers is up to the task. Blooming from early spring, this shade-tolerant flower has the added benefit of being undesirable to deer and rabbits. If you cut it back after it finishes blooming, you may get a fall blooming. Grow in Zones 4-9.

10. Corydalis “Blue Heron.” This beautiful shade plant has tubular sapphire blue flowers suspended above blue-grey foliage. The plant is a compact 10 inches wide and 10 inches tall and will not self-seed. The flowers bloom in mid to late spring and then the plant will go dormant in the summer. It will revive in the fall and often rebloom. Use this shade plant in Zones 6-9.

bush of hydrangea paniculata flowering

When planning your shade garden, be sure to include at least one hydrangea. It’s one of the few flowering shrubs that can tolerate shade, and the hydrangea is more popular than ever. And for good reason! Now, we have so many choices besides the traditional white snowball variety. Today, the shape of the flower head can be lace caps or conical shape. The colors are even more varied. There are pinks and blues, as well as red, purple and bi-colored. The biggest problem you will have with the hydrangea plants for sale is narrowing it down to just one!

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