Pretty Perennial Shade Plants That Will Fill Your Home Garden with Color

PRETTY PERENNIAL SHADE PLANTS THAT WILL FILL YOUR HOME GARDEN

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Any not-so-sunny areas of your landscape can catch the attention of neighbors or guests with the fantastic blooms and foliage of perennial shade plants. While some of these plants can thrive even in deep shade, others may grow well in full sun while enjoying the relief of partial shade in summers.

Perennial Plants That Will Brighten up The Shady Areas of Your Garden

Although most shade-loving options are foliage plants, several perennial flowers for the shade can add aesthetic value to your garden. When the garden catalogs are released every year, and the nurseries begin stocking up plants, gardeners start counting on maximizing the blooms for their buck. You don’t necessarily have to grow only foliage just because your garden lacks sunlight, or you don’t have to settle for just a few weeks of bloom. Shade-loving perennials are adaptive to very little sunlight. Since the canopies of larger trees and shrubs block the maximum amount of sunrays from reaching the forest floor, understory plants utilize the very little light that they receive for photosynthesizing and reproduction. Similarly, the taller fences, trees, buildings, and other structures often create a shady spot in the home garden, where it seems nothing will grow. Almost all gardens and backyards can get fully or partially shaded at some point during the daylight hours due to several factors that affect the amount and quality of the shaded parts. There are many choices when it comes to low light part shade perennials that look just as unique and beautiful as their sunny counterparts. There are three types of shade in your garden: Part sun perennials grown in partial shade that receives sunlight for only part of the day, between 3 to 6 hours each day. Dappled shade is found in areas where the branches and leaves of deciduous trees block out some sunlight. Plants in this spot usually receive about 3 hours of sun per day. Full shade practically receives no sunlight due to the presence of a sun-blocking wall or structure for the entire day. Here are some of the best Perennial flowers for the shade that can cheer you and your darkened nooks and crannies with their beauty:

1. Brunnera

This low-growing, hardy herbaceous perennial provides good ground cover and produces attractive dense clumps of foliage. In spring, the sky blue shaded flowers of Brunnera add welcome sparkle to any shaded gardens.

Types

Brunnera Macrophylla “Hadspen Cream’

Brunnera Macrophylla “Alexander’s Great’

Brunnera M.Jack Frost,

Brunnera M. ‘looking Glass’,

Brunnera ‘Diane’s Gold’

Light

Full to part shade

Water 

Evenly moist, well-drained soil

Zone 

3-8

Size 

Up to 2 feet tall

2. Ajuga

This top-notch shade perennial is grown mainly for its attractive leaves and blue flowers that bloom in the spring. It makes a low, tough groundcover and grows outward with creeping stems.

Types

Blueberry Muffin, Catlin’s Giant, Burgundy Glow, Chocolate chip, Toffee Chip, Purple Brocade, Black Scallop

Light 

Full to part shade

Water

Evenly moist, well-drained soil

Zone 

3-9

Size

Up to 6 inches tall

3. Bleeding Heart

This favorite shade of perennials produces pink or white heart-shaped flowers that hang from elegant, arching stems in late spring and early summer.

Types

Lamprocapnos spectabilis -‘Alba,’ ‘Gold Heart,’ ‘White Gold,’ ‘Amore Pink,’ ‘Valentine.’

Light

Full to part shade

Water

Evenly moist, well-drained soil

Zone

3-9

Size

Up to 3 feet tall

4. Lungwort

The lungwort is an attractive flowering shade plant that features silvery, lung-shaped spots on the foliage. The leaves will look good all season long and complement the clusters of white, pink, or blue flowers in spring.

Types

Pulmonaria Excalibur, Pulmonaria Officinalis ‘Sissinghurst White’, Pulmonaria’ Spilled Milk”, Pulmonaria ‘Roy Davidson,’ Pulmonaria ‘Smokey Blue.’

Light

Full shade, part sun, or full sun

Water

Evenly moist, well-drained soil

Zone 

4-8

Size

Up to 12 inches tall

5. Hellebore

It is commonly known as ‘Lenten rose,’ from the rose-like flowers that appear in early spring around the Christian observance of Lent. The “blooms” last for several months, from February until May, and the foliage is evergreen except for the coldest regions.

Types

Syncarpus, Griphopus, Chenopus, Helleborastrum, Helleborus

Light

Full to part shade

Water

Tolerates dry spells, though it does best with regular moisture

Zone

4-8

Size

Up to 12 inches tall

6. Astilbe

This shade-loving perennial can brighten shady parts of gardens with the brilliant plume-colored flower held high above the attractive, deep green foliage.

Types

Chinese Astilbe, Maggie Daley, Astilbe Sprite, Astilbe Fanal, Japansese Astilbe, Irrlicht Astilbe

Light

Part shade

Size

Up to 3 feet tall

Water

Evenly moist, well-drained soil

Zone

4-8

Size

Up to 3 feet tall

7. Jack-In-The-Pulpit

This woodland plant is a perennial for shade.  Jack-in-the-pulpit produces a brightly colored bunch of red berries that look equally rewarding.

Types

Arisaema triphyllum, Arisaema triphyllum ‘Black Jack,’ Arisaema triphyllum ‘Starburst,’ Arisaema quinetum, Arisaema dracontium, Arisaema saxatile, Arisaema Yunnanese, Arisaema dracontium, Arisaema tortuosum, Arisaema serratum, Japanese Cobra Lily

Light

Partial shade to full shade

Size

6-12 inches

Water

Moist, humusy Soil

Zone

4-9

8. Bunchberry

Bunchberry is a straight, low-growing plant that often forms colonies. It is ideal for dappled shade and works well in naturalized areas and along shaded pathways.

Types

Bunchberry Dogwood, Dwarf Dogwood, Canadian Bunchberry, Dogwood Bunchberry, Pudding Berry, Crackerberry, Creeping Dogwood, and Dwarf Cornel.

Light

Shade

Size

Reaches only 6 to 12 inches

Water

Moist acidic soil

Zone

2-7

9. Leopard Plant

While it is grouped with other shade perennials, this versatile perennial can stand little sunlight if watered enough. It can also be grown in spots that are too wet for many other plants to handle.

Types 

Farfugium japonicum, Farfugium hiberniflorum.

Light

Partial to full shade

Size

Moderate growing; reaches 3 to 4 ft. tall, up to 3 ft. wide.

Water

Organically rich soil that stays moist

Zone

4-8

10. Roger’s Flower

The striking flowers of this plant add an element of architecture to your landscape with its massive palm-shaped thick leaves that have a coarsely toothed edge.

Types

aesculifolia, R. Henrici, R. pinnata, R. podophylla, R. sambucifolia

Light

Part Sun, Sun

Size

3-8 feet

Water 

Moist and rich in humus

Zone

5-7

COLUMBINE

11. Columbine

Columbines are one of the popular Red flower perennials that are herbaceous perennials found in meadows, woodlands, and in higher altitudes. The ones with colored blooms may be the best choice for shaded spots, where they brighten up gloomy areas.

Types 

Aquilegia alpine, Aquilegia atrata, Aquilegia caerulea, Aquilegia vulgaris, Aquilegia McKana, Aquilegia Canadensis, Aquilegia x hybrid, Aquilegia flabellate, Aquilegia chrysantha, Aquilegia pubescens

Light

Full to partial shade

Size

3 to 4 feet

Water

Well-drained soil amended with compost

Zone

3-9

12. Spotted Deadnettle

Deadnettle is a very nice landscape plant that looks good due to its colorful foliage and flowers. This ground cover with silver foliage can help brighten shady areas and make them seem less gloomy.

Types

Album’ (white form), ‘Anne Greenaway,’ ‘Aureum’ (yellow-leaved), Beacon Silver’ (silver leaves), Cannon’s Gold’ (gold leaves), ‘Chequers’ (vigorous, silver-striped leaves),’ Purple Dragon’ has unusually purple snapdragon-type flowers ‘Red Nancy’ (silver leaves with green margins) ‘Roseum’ (leaves with a central silver stripe)’Sterling Silver’ (silver leaves) ‘White Nancy’

Light

Full sun to partial shade

Size

3 to 12 inches tall

Water

Well-drained, with average moisture and fertility needs

Zone

4-8

13. Spiderwort

Spiderwort or Tradescantia is a part shade and not a deep shade plant. It makes for very low-maintenance houseplants that are ideal for beginner gardeners. They are also available in a dazzling array of unique cultivars.

Types

Burgundy, Green Glow, Lilac, Baby Bunny Bellies, white Velvet, Green Ghost, Tricolour, Moses In The Cradle, Nanouk

Light

Partial Shade To Full Sun

Size

2 feet tall

Water 

Moist, well-drained, and acidic soil

Zone 

4-9

14. Viola

These perennial plants are often recommended for ground cover, as they spread fast to make large flowering clumps under shrubs, notably roses, with which they match extremely well.

Types 

Penny Purple Picotee, Johnny Jump-Up, Sand Violet, and others

Light

Part to full shade

Size

4-10 Inches

Water

Rich, moist, well-draining soil

Zone

3-8

15. Monkshood

Monkshood is a perennial flower that loves full sun but is fine in partial shade. Its deep purple-blue blooms can last up to two months in late summer, appearing atop 5- to 6-foot stalks.

Types

Arendsii’ Monkshood, ‘Bicolor’ Monkshood

Light

Full sun to part shade

Size

3-8 feet

Water

Rich, moist, well-drained

Zone

3 to 7

16. Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh is a perfect perennial flower for the shade that blooms well even with little direct sunlight. The dense foliage gives rise to even taller stalks of bottle brush-shaped clusters of white flowers.

Types

Actaea racemosa, the black cohosh, black bugbane, black snakeroot, or fairy candle

Light

Part shade to full shade

Size

18-22 Inches

Water

Average, medium-moisture

Zone

3-8

17. False Spirea

Spireas (Spiraea) are low-maintenance flowering shrubs that add showy clusters of flowers to the garden. Many varieties of these plants grow best in part shade but can also tolerate full sun or even full shade.

Types

Bridal wreath spireas or shrubby spireas.

Light

Full sun to part shade

Size

6 inches to 5 feet

Water

Loamy, medium moisture, well-drained

Zone

3-8

18. Barrenwort

Barrenwort is an underused perennial that tolerates dry shade. The groundcover blooms in spring in red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, or white shades.

Types

Epimedium x versicolor Sulphureum, Epimedium rubrum, Epimedium grandiflorum, Epimedium pubigerum, Epimedium x warleyense, Epimedium x purralchium, Epimedium x youngianum ‘Nieveum’

Light

Full to part shade

Size

Up to 12 inches tall

Water

Tolerates dry spells but does best with regular watering

Zone

5-9

19. Lilyturf

Loved for its grassy foliage and spikes of blue or white flowers in late summer. Lilyturf is easy to maintain, and it produces white and blue flowers on dense tufts of broadly grassy leaves that are often striped.

Types

‘Lilac Beauty’ lilyturf, Variegated lilyturf

Light

Full shade, part sun, or full sun

Size

Up to 12 inches tall

Water

Tolerates drought well but grows best with regular watering

Zone

5-10

20. Primrose

Primroses are famous perennials that are a staple in cottage gardens. Its bright blooms grow on the sturdy stalks of its deep green foliage in early spring. Although it can handle some amount of sun in the spring, they need the least partial shade in the height of summer.

Types

Oenothera Speciosa, Primula Baltic Amber, Primula Belarina Cobalt Blue,  Primula Vialii, Primula Denticulata, Primula Gold-Laced, Primula Romance, Primula Auricula, Primula Zebra Blue and others.

Light

Part shade to full shade

Size

up to 20 inches tall

Water

Rich, moist, well-drained

Zone

2-8

Before planting your shaded spots, it’s important to take some time to observe the shade conditions in your particular locale. Depending on the structures in and around your garden and the orientation of your home, the quality of shade will vary. Southern exposures will be sunny at most times of the day, while western exposures will be shaded in the morning and be brightly lighted by the afternoon.

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