The Best Flowers For Shade

Discover the best flowering plants to brighten up your shady garden spots! Learn how to create a lush, colorful garden in even the shadiest areas with a mix of stunning annuals and perennials.

Shade garden with flowering perennials
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Shade flowers are a gardener's secret weapon. Many people think that if they have a shade garden, they have no choice but to stick to foliage. That's not true!

It's true that plants need sunlight to grow, and many put on their biggest floral displays when grown in full sun. There is hope, though, for the gardener burdened with a shady yard or deeply shaded corners. You just need to pick the right plants. Fill those dark spots with these shade-loving flowers and they'll still light up your space with plenty of blooms.

Shade Perennials

All of these shade flowers are perennials and should grow and bloom well in partial or light shade. Plant them once, and they'll come back with lovely flowers year after year.

Bleeding heart flowers growing on a plant

  • Bleeding Heart -- This is a pretty small shrub or perennial with unique flowers. The heart-shaped flowers hang from thin branches and can be deep pink or white.
  • Astilbe -- Also known as false spirea, this perennial grows feathery spikes of small flowers on tall stems. Astilbe plants come in a huge range of colors.
  • Japanese Anemone -- A late-season bloomer that does fine in part shade, this will give you pretty flowers on tall thin stems in shades of pink and white. Watch out -- Japanese anemone plants spread readily.
  • Blue-Eyed Grass -- This iris relative has long and thin, grass-like leaves with delicate flowers that are mostly blue or violet. Some varieties of blue-eyed grass also come in white or yellow.
  • Foamflower -- The name of this perennial perfectly describes the frothy, feathery look of the flower clusters. Foamflower's foliage is attractive too, with large, heart-shaped leaves.
  • Columbine -- Columbine does especially well in dappled shade where summers are hot. The striking flowers come in many colors, and most are bi-colored.
  • Primrose -- These woodland natives prefer damp, shady areas that remind them of the forest floor. Primroses will bloom throughout summer and often into the fall.
  • Coral Bells -- Also known as alumroot, this very cold hardy perennial has a low-growing, mounding habit. Though its name suggests pink, coral bells' spikes of flowers also come in white.

Shade Annuals

Annuals may not come back year after year, but you cannot beat them for sheer flower power. For bright splashes of color in shady corners, under trees, or in containers on covered patios, try these:

Impatiens Flowers

  • Wax Begonia -- There are many varieties of begonia that tolerate dappled shade. Wax begonias get their name from their characteristically waxy leaves. Flowers come in various shades of pink and orange, as well as white.
  • Tuberous Begonia -- Another begonia for shade, this type has showier flowers in a greater range of colors. Tuberous begonias provide more and larger flowers than most other plants that grow in shade.
  • Impatiens -- This tropical species is a common annual used in shady gardens. Impatiens is low-maintenance, blooms prolifically all season, and comes in a variety of colors, including white.
  • Fuchsia -- A favorite in hanging baskets, these natives of Central and South America love cool, moist, dappled shade. Keep fuchsia plants well watered in fast draining soil, and out of direct sun and heat.
  • Lobelia -- This popular annual produces waves of small white, blue, or lavender flowers, even in shade. Lobelia is a great choice for spilling out of containers or the edges of beds.
  • Wishbone Flower -- This is a pretty trumpet-shaped flower. The most common variety of wishbone flower is dark bluish purple with yellow and white markings. The stamens resemble a wishbone.
  • Browallia -- Browallia is a low maintenance plant with deep blue, purple, or white flowers and pretty green foliage.

Plants For Deep Shade

Many of the best plants for deep shade or indirect light are more known for foliage, but there are some true shade-loving flowers:

Purple flowers on blue hosta

  • Hosta -- This is one of the most popular of shade-loving perennials. Hostas come in many varieties noted mostly for foliage variation, but they also produce stalks of lavender or white flowers.
  • Siberian Forget-Me-Not -- Again, this species has attractive foliage but also delicate purple flowers. The leaves are heart-shaped with pale green variegation. Also called brunnera, it makes a good shade groundcover.
  • Solomon’s Seal -- This woodland plant will flower in deep shade. Solomon's seal produces small, white flowers that hang from a stalk.
  • Foxglove -- These tall spires of bell-shaped flowers are a shade garden must. Depending on how hot your zone is, foxgloves will thrive in any type of shade you throw their way.
  • Leopard Plant -- This is a unique plant that might be a little difficult to find. True to its name, leopard plant has spotted leaves and yellow flowers that bloom even in deep shade.

Shade is not the enemy in the garden. It is a chance to get creative and to find new plants to love. Now that you understand which flowers grow well in shade, go out and add a little color to your landscape.

Know Your Shade

Before you plant, you need to know exactly what kind of shade you have, so you can select flowers that will thrive in the given conditions. Part or partial shade means an area gets full sunlight for part of the day and is shaded at other times. Light or dappled shade is an area where sunlight is filtered through something, typically a tree.

Full or deep shade areas get almost no direct sunlight at all. The light is indirect. Although tricky, these shadiest spots have the benefit of retaining more moisture during dry spells and droughts.

Most of the flowers above will do well with partial or dappled shade. The deep shade plants will flower even in full shade.

Frequently Asked Questions

What flowers bloom best in shade?

Foxgloves and hostas will bloom profusely in even deep shade.

What perennial flowers grow in mostly shade?

Bleeding heart, foamflower, and primrose are all perennials that will flower in shade.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.

With contributions from