ADA Accessibile AddThis Widget
MU Extension near you

Page: « First    ‹ Previous    Next ›    Last »


Gardening in the Shade

Perennial flowers

Many spring flowering bulbs grow well in shady sites, particularly under trees that leaf out late in the spring. The bulbs bloom early, and complete their growth for the year before the shade becomes too dense. Daffodil (Flowering Annuals: Characteristics and Culture.

Alumroot, Coral bells (Heuchera)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    1 to 2 feet tall
  • American alumroot, H. americana, is grown primarily for its foliage. 'Palace Purple' is a purplish-bronze leaved selection. Coral bells, H. sanguinea, produce airy panicles of rose, pink or white blooms through much of the summer if old flower stalks are removed.

Astilbe, False Spirea (Astilbe sp)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    6 inches to 4 feet tall
  • Numerous species, cultivars and hybrids are available, with flower colors ranging from white, to pink, red, and lavender during summer. Finely divided foliage is fernlike. Require moisture through the summer, but need good drainage through the winter.

Balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    1 to 3 feet tall
  • Flower buds look like inflated balloons. Open to bell-shaped blue, pink or white blooms. Slow to emerge in spring.

Bellflower, Campanula (Campanula sp)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    3 inches to 4 feet tall
  • Many species available. Blue, purple or white flowers through much of the summer. Most prefer partial shade in the heat of the summer.

Bergenia, Pigsqueak (Bergenia cordifolia)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light, medium or full
  • Size
    6 inches to 1 feet tall
  • Large, shiny evergreen leaves often develop purplish coloration in winter. Clusters of pink flowers in the spring.

Bleedingheart (Dicentra sp)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    1 to 3 feet tall
  • Old-fashioned bleedingheart, D. spectabilis, produces arches of pink, heart-shaped blooms in spring, then dies down. D. eximia, fringed bleedingheart, and its hybrids are smaller, have finer-textured foliage and repeat blooms all season long.

Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    1 to 2 feet tall
  • Green, heart-shaped leaves. Clusters of small, true-blue flowers in spring. Tolerates dry shade, but prefers moisture.

Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    3 to 4 feet tall
  • Brilliant spires of red flowers in late summer. Cultivated forms may have green or bronze foliage. Needs moist soil.

Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

  • Shade tolerance
    Medium to full
  • Size
    2 feet tall
  • Native, evergreen fern. Dark green foliage provides a nice backdrop for other plants. Prefers moist, well-drained soil. Leathery fronds are useful in floral arrangements.

Cranesbill, Geranium (Geranium sp)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    1 to 2 feet tall
  • Many species and cultivars are available. Flower color is usually pink to blue, but some whites are available. Flowers are most abundant in early summer, with some varieties blooming all season. Most form spreading clumps suitable as a groundcover.

Daylily (Hemerocallis sp)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    1 to 3 feet tall
  • Daylilies tolerate fairly deep shade, but will bloom best in sun. Adaptable to most soil types.

Hardy ageratum, Mist flower (Eupatorium coelestinum)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    1 to 2 feet tall
  • Powder puff blue flowers in late summer to fall. Prefers at least partial sun. Spreads readily.

Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    1 to 1-1/2 feet tall
  • Silky, palmate leaves collect dewdrops. Lime green flowers in spring to early summer. Prefers moist site.

Ostrich fern (Matteuccia pensylvanica)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light, medium to full
  • Size
    4 feet tall
  • Fiddleheads in spring unfold to lacy medium green leaves. Needs moisture to prevent leaf scorch.

Toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    2 to 3 feet tall
  • Produces multiple white flowers mottled with purple in late summer to fall. Exotic appearance. Prefers moisture.

Turtlehead (Chelone sp)

  • Shade tolerance
    Light to medium
  • Size
    3 to 4 feet tall
  • Pink turtlehead, C. lyonii, has pink flowers in late summer to early fall on upright plants with glossy green foliage. C. obliquahas deeper rose colored blooms. Both need moisture.

G6911, reviewed April 2002

Page: « First    ‹ Previous    Next ›    Last »


G6911 Gardening in the Shade | Page 7 | University of Missouri Extension