Flower Facts Flower Information Garden

Best Flowers for Shade: Shade-Tolerant Flowers

red bleeding heart flower

Is your garden on the north side of your home? Do you have a lot of trees on your property? Are you surrounded by lots of tall houses? No matter why you need shade-tolerant blooms, there are plenty of flowers that thrive in shade. Some species even require it! Here are our suggestions for the best flowers for shade.

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Best Shade-Tolerant Flowers

When you’re looking for the best shade-tolerant flowers, pay attention to the growing label and select plants that work in your USDA Hardiness Zone. Keep in mind that partial shade means the area doesn’t get more than 3 to 4 hours of sun each day, while full shade means the area never receives direct sunlight.

What Flowers Bloom in Shade All Summer?

  • Geraniums
  • Bellflower
  • Barrenwort (Fairy Wings)
  • Foxglove
  • Primrose
  • Lungwort
  • Monkshood or Wolf’s Bane
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Fuschia
  • Bluestar
  • Spiderwort
  • Yellow Fumitory
  • False goat’s Beard
  • Jack Frost
  • Solomon’s Seal
  • Foamflower
  • Coral Bells

What Perennials Do Good in Mostly Shaded Areas?

  • Primrose
  • Columbine
  • Foamflower
  • Trillium
  • Hydrangea
  • Lavender Mountain Lilies
  • Solomon’s Seal
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Hardy Cyclamen
  • Toad Lily
  • Lenten Rose
  • Blue-Eyed Mary
  • English Bluebells
  • Lungwort
  • Foxglove
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Astilbe

You may want to mix these perennials with the best flowering ground cover plants.

Astilbe (Astilbe spp.)

The slow-growing astilbe prefers partial shade but will tolerate full shade, although it may not grow as large. In spring and summer, astilbe produces plume-like flowers on stalks above the foliage. This flower species demands moist soil, so be sure to water at least once a week if you don’t get much rain.

USDA Zone: 3-8
Soil Requirements: Loamy, well-drained
Colors: White, pink, red, lavender

Cowslip (Primula veris)

The lemon-yellow blooms of cowslip are partial to dappled sunlight and rich, moist soil like what you can find near stream banks and seep springs. These blooms traditionally beautified springtime woodlands, pastures, and hedgerows in Europe.

USDA Zone: 3-8
Soil Requirements: Rich, moist
Colors: Yellow

Trillium (Trillium spp.)

With 38 of the world’s 43 trillium species being native to North America, they’re a natural choice for gardens here. Blooming in early to mid-spring and going dormant by mid-summer, trillium flowers vary from obscure to showy and come in varying shades of red, pink, and white.

USDA Zone: 4-9
Soil Requirements: Moist, well-drained
Colors: Red, pink, white

Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.)

Lungwort’s funnel- or bell-shaped flowers bloom early in the spring and prefer partial to full shade. These plants can form a large colony by spreading steadily, but not invasively, over many years. In addition to the violet, pink, or white blooms, the foliage itself tends to be spotty, making it even more visually interesting.

USDA Zone: 4-9
Soil Requirements: Moist, rich, well-drained
Colors: White, pink, violet

purple lungwort with green mottled leaves

Bellflowers (Campanula spp.)

Easy to grow and adaptable, bellflowers are excellent filler plants with striking white, purple, pink, or blue bell-shaped flowers. Bellflowers typically prefer partial shade. Depending on the variety, bellflowers may stay as short as 1 foot tall or reach as tall as 6 feet.

USDA Zone: 6-9
Soil Requirements: Rich, moist
Colors: White, purple, pink, blue

Fuchsia (Fuschia spp.)

While fuschia plants do need some light for the best blooms, they prefer gentle morning sun over harsh afternoon light. The bold teardrop-shaped flowers on trailing stems also don’t do well in strong winds, so keep that in mind as you decide where to plant them.

USDA Zone: 8-11
Soil Requirements: Acidic, moist, rich, well-drained
Colors: Pink, white, red, purple, bicolors

Trailing Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)

While trailing lobelia can grow perennially in zones 10 and 11, it’s most commonly planted as an annual. The tubular flowers feature fan-shaped lower lips and have white or yellow throats. These colorful blooms attract butterflies and are ignored by deer.

USDA Zone: Perennial in 10-11, annual elsewhere
Soil Requirements: Rich, moist, well-drained
Colors: White, pink, violet, blue, reddish-purple

Coral Bells (Heuchera spp.)

Coral bells can burn if they get too much sun, making them ideal for areas with partial shade. Blooming from spring to early summer, coral bells have wispy flower stalks with small blooms. This semi-evergreen species usually has green leaves, but they can also be gold, purple, or many other colors.

USDA Zone: 4-9
Soil Requirements: Rich, well-drained
Colors: Coral, red, purple, green, plum, chartreuse, taupe, variegated

Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)

A low-maintenance, long-lived plant, Siberian bugloss thrives in shade – in fact, too much light can cause the plant to go dormant. Resembling forget-me-nots, Siberian bugloss flowers are tiny and bright blue with white centers that bloom in the spring.

USDA Zone: 3-7
Soil Requirements: Moist, rich, well-drained
Colors: Blue

Hellebore (Helleborus spp.)

With flowers that resemble roses, hellebores are among the earliest plants to bloom in late winter or early spring. These flowers thrive in partial to full shade, but they don’t tolerate soggy soil well, so be careful to avoid overwatering them.

USDA Zone: 5-8
Soil Requirements: Moist, rich, well-drained
Colors: Purple, pink, white, red, yellow

Dogtooth Violet (Erythronium albidum)

Also known as a trout lily, the dogtooth violet blooms in the spring with curved, delicate-looking flowers that open in the morning and close in the evening. Thriving in woodlands under dappled tree light, dogtooth violets need to be protected from heat and harsh sunlight. A layer of mulch will help the plant retain moisture and keep the roots cool.

USDA Zone: 3-8
Soil Requirements: Moist, rich, well-drained
Colors: Yellow, white, violet

Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)

While bleeding hearts will tolerate some sun in cooler climates, these delicate flowers should be protected from intense sun and strong winds. The arching stems of heart-shaped white or pink flowers bloom in the spring. Bleeding heart needs moist soil, but don’t let it get soggy.

USDA Zone: 3-9
Soil Requirements: Rich, well-drained
Colors: White, pink

red bleeding heart flower

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Blooming in the spring, lily of the valley prefers full shade, especially in warm climates. This hardy ground cover features tiny, fragrant, white flowers and arching medium green leaves. In some areas, lily of the valley can spread rather aggressively, so check before planting. They prefer soil that’s moist but not soggy.

USDA Zone: 2-7
Soil Requirements: Rich, well-drained
Colors: Pink, white

Primrose (Primula spp.)

With a wide variety of species, you can find primroses to suit nearly any climate and anywhere from full to partial shade. These low-maintenance plants typically feature dark green leaves with colorful flowers in all colors except green.

USDA Zone: 3-9
Soil Requirements: Moist, rich, well-drained
Colors: All colors except green

white and purple primrose blossoms

Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)

Doing best in partial shade under deciduous trees, hydrangeas come in a number of different colors and appearances, with some featuring large, round clusters of flowers and others having smaller, flatter blooms. Hydrangeas prefer morning sun and afternoon shade.

USDA Zone: 5-9
Soil Requirements: Well-drained
Colors: Blue, green, white, purple, pink, red

dark purple hydrangeas

Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri)

Since they’re annuals, you can plant wishbone flowers anywhere as long as you wait until the threat of frost has passed. They prefer mostly shade, with some morning sun being acceptable. Wishbone flowers are trumpet-shaped and bloom from early summer to late fall, when cold weather arrives.

USDA Zone: Annual
Soil Requirements: Loamy, well-drained
Colors: Lavender, blue-purple, rose, pink, white

Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.)

Rhododendron roots don’t like being exposed to heat, making them an ideal species for shady areas, including under trees. Covering the roots with mulch will help your rhododendron roots stay cool and retain moisture. Available in shades of white, lavender, and pink, rhododendrons bloom in spring and early summer.

USDA Zone: 4-8
Soil Requirements: Rich, acidic, well-drained
Colors: White, lavender, pink

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica)

Featuring delicate bright blue blooms with white or yellow centers, forget-me-nots prefer shade, especially in warmer climates. Deadheading the plants (removing spent blooms) helps control their spread if you want to avoid them taking over too much of your garden.

USDA Zone: 3-8
Soil Requirements: Moist, rich, well-drained
Colors: Blue

delicate blue forget-me-nots

Impatiens (Impatiens spp.)

These annuals typically remain less than 1 foot tall (depending on the species) and bloom in the spring and summer. These popular flowers come in a variety of colors including many shades of pink and purple. Too much light will wilt impatiens, and they bloom even in heavy shade, so you can confidently plant these bright blooms in the darkest area of your garden.

USDA Zone: 10-11
Soil Requirements: Rich, well-drained
Colors: Pink, red, purple, coral, violet, white, yellow

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

Although foxglove will tolerate full sun in cool climates, it performs best in partial or full shade, especially in warmer areas. Foxgloves grow tall and skinny and sport clusters of tubular flowers in the early summer. Don’t overwater foxgloves, since they’re prone to rot.

USDA Zone: 4-8
Soil Requirements: Loamy, well-drained
Colors: White, yellow, red, purple, pink

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