If you think only a ray of bright sunshine can make a flower blossom, you are wrong. Shade can be a limiting factor for plant growth. However, not all flowers require sunlight. There are beautiful shade-loving perennial flowers that bloom all season long. Although variegated foliage plants are often the way to go, shade gardeners sometimes add a few more kinds to add texture and life to a shade garden. There is an array of the best perennial flowers for shade that you can add to give life to the bare spot in your garden.
What is “Shade”?
Before we go to the best perennial flowers for shade garden, let’s define first the meaning of the word “shade” when it comes to gardening.
Two Categories of Shade Conditions
Categorically, shade conditions can be divided into two: partial shade and full shade.
Some flowering perennials love the partial shade. These flowers need to be protected when the sun is at its strongest. You can also place them in an area where the sunlight is dappled, like under a shelter, a small tree, or perhaps beneath a trellis.
Other flowering perennials blossom in areas with no direct sunlight, though they still do receive some sunlight, mainly in the form of reflected or filtered light. Full shade areas are often located under large trees or on the north side of houses.
It’s important to note how much shade your chosen perennial flower needs. If the foliage receives more shade than what it requires, foliage burn, leaf curl, and wilting could happen. Here are the five best blooming perennials on each category.
Group 1: Full shade flowering perennials
Indian Pink (Spigelia Marilandica)
This attractive flowering shade perennial grows between 1 to 2 feet in height and bears beautiful elongated red flowers that grow into a yellow star. It usually blooms in June and can last for several weeks.
Yellow Bleeding Heart (Corydalis Lutea)
If you’re looking for a thriving shade perennial that produces flowers for months instead of a few weeks, this is the plant for you! The yellow bleeding heart grows even in dense shade. The bluish-green, 12 inches, ferny foliage forms neat heaps that are constantly covered with yellow, tubular flowers. This flower is one of the longest blooming of all the best perennial flowers for shade out there. It also self-sows in the garden, spreading finely into a colony even if you don’t weed out the unwanted seedlings.
Dwarf Chinese Astilbe (Astilbe Chinensis var. Pumila)
This shade perennial flower blossoms in mid-spring until late summer. The purple-pink flower heads stand 10-12 inches tall, above the jagged green foliage. The Dwarf Chinese astilbe makes the perfect flowering groundcover for the shade and is more receptive to dry soils than other astilbes.
Fern-leaf Bleeding Heart (Dicentra Exima)
The Fern-leaf Bleeding Heart is a native of North America. This shade perennial is every gardener’s dream plant. Its soft blue foliage is pest-resistant, it has a compact growth habit, and it produces lovely pink, white, or red blooms from April to fall’s first frost without the need for thorough care management. It grows to up to 12-18 inches with an equal spread. It offers a wide variety of hybrids and cultivars, so it’s an attractive plant to grow.
Hardy Begonia (Begonia Grandis)
When it comes to shade-loving perennial flowers, the Hardy Begonia is worth checking out. This shade perennial grows at 18-24 inches and produces clusters of pink or red flowers from summer until fall. It can tolerate dense shade quite well and can even survive under a black walnut tree where only a few plants can grow. Its large heart-shaped leaves and thick stems add more details to your shade garden, too.
Group 2: Partial shade flowering perennials
Mourning Widow Perennial Geranium (Geranium Phaeum)
Of all the hardy geraniums, this variety can tolerate more shade than most other species. The green leaves are speckled with a chocolate-brown marking, and the dark maroon-purple blooms grow above the foliage from spring through late summer. The mourning widow grows up to 2 feet tall and requires less maintenance.
Toadlily (Tricyrtis spp.)
Toadlilies are one of the best perennial flowers for shade. It looks like an orchid in appearance, making it a popular choice for gardeners. There are many varieties of toadlilies, but most have white blooms with speckles of pink, rose, or burgundy. The leaves envelop the stems, and they come in a wide range of heights, depending on the variety you choose.
Creeping Veronica (Veronica umbrosa ‘Georgia’)
The creeping veronica is a beautiful perennial groundcover for shade. The bright blue flowers in late spring have a white inner eye, and the trailing leaves are glossy green that turns burgundy in the autumn. It can also make a great addition to the facade of a woodland perennial garden. This low-lying shade perennial reaches just 6 inches in height.
Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)
The heart-shaped leaves of this shade perennial are covered in small hairs, making them inedible to deer and rabbits. Also, the self-sowing nature of this perennial means it adapts into a colony within a few years. Clusters of tiny blue flowers overwhelm the plants every spring. The Siberian bugloss has a height of about 18 inches and is a must for any shade garden.
Leopard plant (Ligularia spp.)
This bold and beautiful plant is probably the most attractive of all the shade-loving perennial flowers. Tall spikes of bright yellow clusters of flowers rise above the heart-shaped leaves in mid-summer. The Ligularia reaches up to 4 feet in height and can tolerate wet soils, but it can wilt if it’s left to dry out. There are several varieties of Leopard plant, including spiky ‘The Rocket’ and red-leaved ‘Brit Marie Crawford.’
That dull and lifeless spot in your garden doesn’t have to be bare. You can utilize the best perennial flowers for shade that will thrive without the sun. They only need a fair amount of water and moist, fertile soil. Plant these shade-loving perennials in beds, borders, or colorful containers for striking garden color.
As you can see, there are many beautiful choices of shade-loving perennial flowers for your garden. We hope you’ll give them a chance and bring a touch of beauty to your shady landscape spaces. Get more about flowering plants!