Flowers that Grow in Shade: The 14 Best Options

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Flowers that grow in shade are a delightful addition to any garden, offering bursts of color and beauty even in the dimmest corners. If you’re a flower enthusiast with shaded spaces in your outdoor haven, this guide is tailor-made. Discover an array of shade-loving blooms and expert tips to create a stunning and flourishing garden sanctuary.

White flowers growing in the shade.

This guide provides information about various flowers that can thrive in low-light conditions. From elegant perennials to cheerful annuals, each flower profile details their preferred growing conditions, maintenance tips, and blooming seasons. Whether you want to transform a dark corner into a vibrant focal point or enhance the overall allure of your garden, this article has everything you need to grow a healthy and beautiful shaded oasis.

Best Perennial Shade-Loving Flowers

I love having perennial flowers in my garden because I only have to plant them once, and they come back year after year. Look at this lovely variety of perennial flowers that grow in shade. These beauties will help fill in even your darkest corners with a splash of color and help you create a lovely shade garden.

Note: None of the listed plants are considered invasive in North America. However, it’s essential to note that plant invasiveness can vary depending on region and local conditions. It’s always a good idea to research and consult local authorities or gardening experts to ensure your chosen plants are suitable for your area and won’t threaten native ecosystems.

Astilbe – Elegant Plumes of Color

These shade-loving flowering plants, known for their tall, beautiful, bright pink plumes, will burn in full sun and flourish in partial shade. Plant them in a light to a moderately shady spot to keep that from happening. Astilbe plants have a wispy, billowy look and come in shades of brilliant pink.

  • Zone: 4-9
  • Light Needs: Part shade to shade
  • Water Needs: Consistent watering is preferred; slightly drought-tolerant
  • Flower Colours: White, pink, deep red, soft lavender, and violet.
  • Blooms: Mid-summer

A bright pink wispy sprig of Astilbe flower.

Bleeding-Heart – Romantic arching Blooms

These shade-loving flowers appear early in spring and provide quite the ornamental show with pink and white heart-shaped flowers growing on arching stems. Bleeding hearts are a wonderful addition to a shade border, giving height, texture, and color.

  • Zone: 3-9
  • Light Needs: Part shade to shade. Bleeding hearts can be complete shade plants but may not bloom as heavily as plants with sunlight.
  • Water Needs: Keep soil consistently moist
  • Flower Colours: Pink and white, white
  • Blooms: Early spring

Pink bleeding heart flowers hanging from a wooden stem.

Foam Flower – Delicate Spring Fluff

A spring bloomer, these flowers grow well in shade and are characterized by white fluffy blooms. These shade-loving perennials will keep coming back year after year.

  • Zone: 4-9
  • Light Needs: Part shade to shade
  • Water Needs: Keep consistently moist
  • Flower Colours: White
  • Blooms: Spring to early summer

Flowers blooming in the shade.

Forget-Me-Nots – Charming and Unforgetable

Native to the United States, the dainty forget-me-not is a low-maintenance addition to many landscapes and looks terrific in garden borders. Forget-me-nots are also one of the fastest-growing flowers in your summer garden and are wonderful shade flowering plants.

  • Zone: 5-9
  • Light Needs: Part shade
  • Water Needs: Prefer to stay moist; thrive in wet, humid areas such as near a body of water
  • Flower Colours: Blue with yellow centers, pink, white
  • Blooms: May through October

Learn More: See our full guide on growing and caring for forget-me-nots flowers.

Bright vibrant corn flower blue forget me not flowers.

Hydrangea – Showy and Versatile

A showy shade-loving flower indeed. Hydrangeas are famous for their large, rounded clusters of pink, blue or white flowers. These are non-fussy flowering shrubs that create a great deal of curb appeal. They grow exceptionally well against foundations on the north side of a home. Hydrangeas are a popular choice for flowering bushes for shade.

You can cut from any of your hydrangeas to grow an indoor plant for your shaded areas! Once the plant is big enough you can harden it off and plant it outside.

  • Zone: 3-9
  • Light Needs: Part shade
  • Water Needs: Prefer to stay moist; water deeply at least once a week
  • Flower Colours: Blue, pink, white
  • Blooms: Summer to fall

A bright pink Hydrangea flower head with soft green leaves.

Lily-of-the-Valley – Fragrant Bell-Shaped Blooms

A tiny, delicate-looking flower with a strong, wonderful scent that makes it one of the best smelling flowers you can have in your garden. These shade-loving favorites have adorned gardens and other areas for thousands of years.

One crucial thing to know about this flower is that it is poisonous and can be fatal to children and pets if ingested. Just two leaves can be a fatal dose. I highly recommend steering clear if you have children or pets that frequent your space.

  • Zone: 2-9
  • Light Needs: Part shade to shade
  • Water Needs: Keep soil moist
  • Flower Colours: Pink, white
  • Blooms: Spring

Up close photo of tiny bell like flowers on a lily of the valley plants.

Primrose – Vibrant Spring Blossoms

This early spring bloomer comes in a large variety of sizes and colors and makes an excellent garden or border flower. Also suitable for container gardening, this stunning perennial will add vibrant colors to any landscape.

  • Zone: 2-8
  • Light Needs: Part shade, shade
  • Water Needs: Don’t over-water; prefer well-drained soil and the chance to dry out very slightly between waterings
  • Flower Colours: Blue, green, orange, red, pink, white, yellow
  • Blooms: Spring

Vibrantly bright yellow primrose flower.

Hostas: Foliage Marvels with Subtle Blooms

Hostas are beloved for their lush foliage, which comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. These hardy perennials not only add texture and depth to shady areas but also surprise gardeners with delicate blooms in shades of white or purple, enhancing the overall charm of the garden bed.

  • Light Needs: Part shade to Full Sun
  • Water Needs: Prefer well-drained soil; avoid over-watering
  • Flower Colors: White, Purple
  • Blooms: Summer

Columbine: Whimsical Blooms for Woodland Gardens

Columbine, with its distinctive spurred flowers, is a delightful addition to any shade garden. These perennial favorites thrive in partial shade and offer an array of colors, including blues, purples, pinks, and whites. Their unique flowers attract pollinators and add a touch of whimsy to woodland settings.

  • Light Needs: Part shade to Full Sun
  • Water Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Flower Colors: Blue, Purple, Pink, White
  • Blooms: Spring

Toad Lily (Tricyrtis): Exotic Elegance in the Shade

For a touch of the exotic, consider planting toad lilies in your shaded garden. These fascinating perennials boast orchid-like blooms with speckled petals, creating a striking contrast against their lush foliage. Toad lilies thrive in shaded conditions, making them an ideal choice for adding elegance to shady borders.

  • Light Needs: Part shade to Full Shade
  • Water Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Flower Colors: Purple, White
  • Blooms: Late Summer to Fall

Brunnera (Siberian Bugloss): Delicate Blue Flowers and Heart-Shaped Leaves

Brunnera, also known as Siberian bugloss, is prized for its heart-shaped leaves and delicate sprays of tiny blue flowers. This perennial beauty thrives in shade and is perfect for ground cover in shady areas. With its charming foliage and dainty blooms, brunnera adds a touch of enchantment to any shade garden.

  • Light Needs: Part shade to Full Shade
  • Water Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Flower Colors: Blue
  • Blooms: Spring

Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium): Graceful Blooms for Woodland Settings

Jacob’s ladder is a graceful perennial that thrives in the dappled shade of woodland gardens. Its clusters of small, bell-shaped flowers and fern-like foliage add charm and elegance to shaded borders. With its airy blooms and attractive foliage, Jacob’s ladder is sure to captivate gardeners seeking to enhance their shaded landscapes.

  • Light Needs: Part shade to Full Sun
  • Water Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Flower Colors: Blue, Purple, Pink, White
  • Blooms: Late Spring to Early Summer

Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa): Foliage Beauty for Shady Retreats

While not a flowering plant, Japanese forest grass offers unparalleled beauty with its elegant, arching foliage. This ornamental grass adds texture and movement to shady gardens, creating a sense of tranquility and serenity. Japanese forest grass is an excellent choice for adding interest to shaded borders and woodland settings.

  • Light Needs: Part shade to Full Shade
  • Water Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Flower Colors: Insignificant flowers; prized for foliage
  • Blooms: Inconspicuous

Hellebore (Lenten Rose): Early Bloomers for Late Winter Cheer

Hellebores, also known as Lenten roses, are prized for their early blooming flowers, which brighten up shaded areas in late winter and early spring. These hardy perennials produce nodding blooms in an array of colors, including white, pink, purple, and green. With their enchanting flowers and evergreen foliage, hellebores are a must-have for shaded gardens.

  • Light Needs: Part shade to Full Shade
  • Water Needs: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Flower Colors: White, Pink, Purple, Green
  • Blooms: Late Winter to Early Spring

Annual Flowers that Grow in Shade

Annual flowers may not come back year after year, but nothing can beat the blooming power of a splashy annual. Check out this list of the best annual flowers for shaded areas to make your garden pop!

Impatiens – Always Cheerful and Colorful

These cheery, bright beauties can put on quite a colorful display, even in full shade. These blooming powerhouses come in various colors and will continue to put on a show until the first frost. Impatiens look incredible as ground cover, window boxes, and patio containers.

  • Light Needs: Part shade, shade.
  • Water Needs: Keep soil moist; will wilt quickly with a lack of water
  • Flower Colours: Blue, yellow, purple, orange, red, pink, white
  • Blooms: Spring, summer, fall

You May Be Interested in Reading: How to Grow and Care for Impatiens

A carpet of pink, red, and white Impatiens flowers with dark green leaves blooming in the shade.

Begonias – Showy with Easy Care

These showy shade-loving flowering plants are a favorite for a good reason: begonias are easy to grow and thrive in various conditions. I plant Bada Bing And Bada Boom begonias (see the picture below) every year in my window boxes at the front of my house and in containers on my front step. They put on a very beautiful show all summer long.

  • Light Needs Part shade, shade.
  • Water Needs: Keep soil moist; well-drained soil
  • Flower Colours: Yellow, orange, pink, white
  • Blooms: Spring, summer, fall

Learn More: There are several different types of begonias, and many of them have different care requirements. We put together a guide to help you navigate all the different care instructions for the different varieties of begonias so you can choose the right plants for your gardens.

Begonias blooming in the shade.

Calendula – Sunny Bright Blooms

The calendula (also known as pot marigolds) has long been a favorite in British Cottage gardens with their bright yellow and orange blooms. The secret to growing calendula plants is to neglect them slightly.

  • Light Needs: Part shade
  • Water Needs: Keep soil moist; well-drained soil
  • Flower Colours: Yellow, orange
  • Blooms: Spring, fall

Very bright yellow calendula flowers with orange centers and dark wax like leaves against a bright white background.

Snapdragons – Magestic and Colorful

A bright, mid-sized plant, snapdragons make a terrific bridge between short and tall plants in your garden. Perfect for cut bouquets, this cool-weather bloomer looks right at home among violas and pansies.

  • Light Needs: Part shade to Full Sun
  • Water Needs: Prefer well-drained soil; avoid over-watering
  • Flower Colours: Yellow, orange, white, pink, red
  • Blooms: Spring, summer, fall

Orange snapdragons against the sky.

Fuchsia – Delicate and Exotic

This delicate, exotic-looking flower has a unique shape. Although not fragrant, fuchsia will stun in hanging baskets and attract hummingbirds.

  • Light Needs: Part shade, shade
  • Water Needs: Prefer well-drained soil; avoid over-watering
  • Flower Colours: Purple, orange, white, pink, red
  • Blooms: Summer, fall

Two soft white fuscia flowers.

Pansy – Cheerful Cool Weather Blooms

Part of the viola family, pansies are cool-weather flowers that grow in shade and are among the first colorful blooms you see as winter departs.

  • Light Needs: Part shade
  • Water Needs: Prefer well-drained soil; avoid over-watering
  • Flower Colours: Purple, blue, orange, white, pink, red
  • Blooms: Spring, fall

Related: Pansies are wonderful flowers for dry pressing. If you’re interested in drying flowers or picking and drying a bouquet of your flowers, check out our posts on drying flowers and caring for dried flowers.

Three Purple pansy flowers with lime green stems.

Wishbone – Petite Splashes of Color

The wishbone flower is a delicate, shade-loving flower with plentiful blossoms that grow close to the ground. The bi-color blooms of the wishbone add a nice splash of color to garden borders.

Wishbone flowers would make an excellent addition to a moonlight garden!

  • Light Needs: Part shade
  • Water Needs: Keep soil moist; prefer well-drained soil
  • Flower Colours: Purple, blue, yellow, white, pink
  • Blooms: Spring, summer, fall

Small soft white cupped blooms of the wishbone flower against a sea of lime green leaves blooming in the shade

Cautions & Warnings

There are a few things to remember as you plan your shade garden. Some shade plants can be toxic, cause allergic reactions, and cause skin sensitivity, so be sure to protect yourself.

Toxicity Awareness:

  • Caution: Some shade-loving plants may contain toxic compounds that can be harmful if ingested or cause skin irritation upon contact.
  • Mitigating Tips: Familiarize yourself with the toxicity levels of the plants in your garden. Keep poisonous plants out of reach of children and pets, and wear gloves when handling plants that cause skin irritation. Educate household members and visitors about the potential risks, and seek medical attention if ingestion or exposure occurs.

Allergenic Pollen:

  • Caution: Some shade-loving plants produce pollen that can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
  • Mitigating Tips: Wear protective gear such as masks and gloves when working around plants that produce allergenic pollen. Choose cultivars with reduced pollen production or plant them away from areas frequently visited by allergy sufferers. Keep garden tools and clothing clean to minimize pollen transfer.

Skin Sensitivity:

  • Caution: Certain shade-loving plants may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions upon contact with leaves, sap, or thorns.
  • Mitigating Tips: Handle plants carefully, wearing gloves and long sleeves when necessary. Wash hands and exposed skin thoroughly after gardening to remove any plant residue. Consider selecting plants with non-irritating characteristics, especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies.

Proper Planting and Maintenance:

  • Caution: Improper planting or maintenance practices can lead to plant stress, disease, or failure to thrive.
  • Mitigating Tips: Follow planting instructions and recommended care practices for each shade-loving plant species. Provide adequate water, sunlight, and soil conditions according to plant requirements. Regularly inspect plants for signs of pests, diseases, or nutrient deficiencies, and take prompt action to address any issues.

Expert Tips

  1. Assess Your Shade Levels: Before selecting shade-loving flowers for your garden, assess the degree of shade in different areas of your yard. Some plants tolerate deep shade, while others prefer dappled or partial shade.
  2. Choose Native Species: Whenever possible, opt for native shade-loving plants. Native species are well-adapted to local conditions and support local wildlife, making them more sustainable choices for your garden.
  3. Consider Soil Moisture: Shade-loving plants often prefer moist soil conditions. Before planting, assess the moisture levels in your shaded areas and choose plants that are suitable for those conditions. Adding organic matter, such as compost, can help improve soil moisture retention.
  4. Provide Adequate Drainage: While shade-loving plants typically prefer moist soil, it’s crucial to ensure proper drainage to prevent waterlogging. Amending heavy clay soil with organic matter or planting in raised beds can improve drainage in shaded areas.
  5. Mulch for Moisture Retention: Apply a layer of mulch around shade-loving plants to help retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
  6. Monitor for Pests and Diseases: Watch for common pests and diseases affecting shade-loving plants, such as aphids, slugs, and powdery mildew. Regular inspections and early intervention can help prevent pest and disease problems from spreading.
  7. Prune for Airflow: Proper pruning and thinning of foliage can improve airflow and reduce the risk of fungal diseases in shaded areas. Remove dead or diseased branches, as well as any overcrowded growth, to promote healthy plant growth.
  8. Provide Adequate Air Circulation: Consider thinning out overhanging branches or strategically pruning nearby trees to allow more light and air circulation to reach shade-loving plants in dense shade conditions.


Can shade flowers survive in areas with limited sunlight?

Yes, shade flowers are specifically adapted to thrive in low-light conditions. They can tolerate varying degrees of shade, from partial shade to full shade, making them suitable for areas with limited sunlight.

Do shade flowers require special care compared to sun-loving plants?

While shade flowers have specific light requirements, they generally require similar care to other plants, including adequate watering, proper soil conditions, and occasional fertilization. However, it’s essential to choose shade-tolerant varieties and provide appropriate growing conditions for optimal growth.

Can I plant shade flowers in sunnier areas of my garden?

While some shade flowers may tolerate brief periods of sunlight, they are best suited for shaded or partially shaded areas. Planting them in full sun can lead to leaf scorch, wilting, or reduced flowering. It’s essential to select plants that match the light conditions of your garden for the best results.

What are some low-maintenance shade flowers for beginner gardeners?

Several shade flowers are known for their low-maintenance qualities, making them ideal for novice gardeners. Examples include hostas, impatiens, and bleeding hearts. Once established, these plants require minimal care and can thrive in shaded environments with little intervention.

How can I incorporate shade flowers into my landscape design?

Shade flowers offer versatility in landscape design and can create beautiful garden beds, borders, and containers in shaded areas. Mix different plant heights, textures, and bloom times to add visual interest to your garden. Group shade flowers with complementary foliage plants and ground covers for a cohesive and harmonious landscape design.

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Final Remarks

In conclusion, integrating shade-loving flowers into your garden can transform even the darkest corners into vibrant, picturesque spaces. With careful selection and maintenance, these resilient plants add beauty and contribute to your outdoor environment’s biodiversity and ecological balance. Embrace the possibilities of shade gardening and enjoy the unique charm and allure it brings to your outdoor gardens.

Join The Conversation

Have you experimented with shade-loving flowers in your garden? We’d love to hear about your experiences and favorite varieties! Share your tips, success stories, and gardening adventures in the comments below. Let’s inspire each other to create stunning shade gardens that thrive year after year.

Author: Laura Kennedy

Writer & Owner of Little Yellow Wheelbarrow

Laura is a highly skilled gardener and fervent flower enthusiast. Despite her playful battle with plant spacing guidelines, Laura’s work inspires gardeners to create thriving, beautiful spaces that reflect both creativity and sustainability.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 24, 2020. It was updated on March 5, 2024 to include more information, table of contents, expert tips and FAQs.

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