Flowers for Shade or Partial Shade


Many flower gardeners worry about gardening in a shade or part shade location. They mistakenly think “nothing grows in shade” or that a shady garden can’t be colorful and full of flowers and excitement. Not true. Shaded gardens can be delightful to the eye and are wonderfully refreshing to visit – and relax in -- on a hot summer day. Here are some suggestions to help you identify the right flowers to grow in a shaded or partly shaded flower bed or planting area. By planting a thoughtful selection of shade loving or shade tolerant annuals and perennials you will be able to enjoy a lovely display of flowers in shade or partial shade all season from spring through summer and into the fall.


Select Shade Loving or Shade Tolerant Flowers

When planting your shady garden, be sure to select plants and flowers that like shade. If you plant sun loving flowers in a shady site, they will languish and fail to bloom and eventually fade away and die. Also, make sure it is truly a shaded area. If your flower bed or planting site receives six hours of sun a day then it is considered to be a sunny location. Flowers for Shade or Partial Shade

A well stocked nursery should offer a good selection of shade loving or shade tolerant flowers. Many retail nurseries separate their flowers into shade lovers and sun lovers. Once you begin to seek out shade loving and shade tolerant plants, it is surprising just how many choices you have. Here are just a few to help you get started.

Hardy perennial flowers that do well in part shade to shade include:
  • Actaea spp. (Bugbane)
  • Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)
  • Astilbe
  • Aquilegia (Columbine)
  • Begonia grandis (Hardy Begonia)
  • Bergenia (Pigsqueak)
  • Brunnera (Bugloss)
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
  • Epimedium (Bishop's Hat)
  • Helleborus (Hellebore)
  • Hosta
  • Iris cristata (Crested Iris)
  • Lamium maculatum (Spotted Deadnettle)
  • Phlox divaricata (Woodland Phlox)
  • Primula (Primrose)
  • Pulmonaria (Leadwort)
  • Tiarella (Foam Flower)
  • Tricyrtis (Toad Lily)
  • Viola (Violet)

Annual flowers that do well in part shade to shade and bloom all summer include:

  • Impatiens
  • Begonia -- including tuberous, angel wing and fibrous rooted begonias
  • Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
  • Torenia (Wishbone Flower)
  • Viola

As you can see from the shade garden annual and perennial flower plants listed above, there are many flowers that bloom in shade to part shade situations. There are many, many more shade plants you could grow that I have not listed here, particularly among the wild flowers or native plants. But I hope this gives you some ideas to encourage you with your shaded flower bed and help make planting your shady flower garden a success. As you become more experienced with shade gardening, you may want to also consider using shade loving plants with especially ornamental foliage as well as these perennial and annual flowers.