What Are the Best Perennial Flowers for Shade?

Having some shaded areas in your garden can leave you uncertain about the kinds of plants to grow there. Fortunately, there are plenty of lovely flowers that grow and thrive in the shade. But what are the best perennial flowers for shade? 

Such perennials include Deadnettle, Lungwort, Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart, Barrenwort, Ajura, Primrose, and Toad Lily.

Read on for a list of 17 shade-tolerant perennial flowers.

  1. Lungwort (Pulmonaria)

Lungwort is a ground-covering plant with beautiful flowers and foliage. It has leaves with randomly patterned white dots, which makes it look special even out of the bloom season.

While the foliage is a treat to your eyes all year round, the flowers bloom in shades of pink, blue, and white in the spring.

Despite its beauty, this plant doesn’t attract rabbits or deers. This means you can rest assured that your perennial will continue to grow and thrive without wild predators.

Lungwort thrives in full or partial shade. In fact, direct sunlight can wilt or burn the pretty leaves of this plant. It requires well-drained moist soil and is most hardy in zones 3 to 8.

  1. Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta)
Close up of toad lily (tricyrtis hirta) flowers in bloom

Toad lily is an elegant shade-tolerant perennial that can add a touch of beauty and grace to your garden. It blooms mid or late summer. 

Toad lilies produce orchid-like flowers in a variety of shades. They range from white to light purple with dark blue or purple spots.

This low-maintenance perennial thrives in full or partial shade. Toad lilies require moist, well-drained soil and are best planted in zones 4 to 9.

  1. Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Dead Nettle is one of the most beautiful shade perennials that can brighten up your garden with a burst of color that lasts all summer. 

In mid-spring, your Dead Nettles will burst with purple, pink, or white flowers.

Even out of season, this shade plant has silvery foliage that would definitely catch your eyes. As long as you keep the soil moist, your plant should maintain its beauty all year long.

Dead Nettle prefers full or partial shade. It requires moist and well-drained soil. With the right conditions, Dead Nettle can grow up to eight inches tall. It’s best planted in zones 4 to 8.

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  1. Ajuga (Ajugaea)

Ajuga is also known as Ground Pine, Carpet Bugle, Bugleweed, or simply Bugle. This plant is famous for its beautiful foliage. In addition, it blooms with blue flowers in spring.

Some varieties of this ground-cover plant produce white, dark purple, or pink flowers. It usually spreads outwardly. Due to its creeping stem, Ajuga may spread profusely in some regions.

It’s best grown in zones 3 through 9. As a groundcover plant, Ajuga may grow up to six inches tall in full or partial shade. All it needs for this growth is moist and well-drained soil.

  1. Barrenwort (Epimedium)
Close-up of the spreading plant the Warley epimedium flowering with sprays of small flowers with bright coppery-orange sepals and smaller pale yellow petals

Barrenwort is an excellent shade-loving perennial. It’s a groundcover plant that blooms in the spring with colorful flowers that can brighten up your garden.

Barrenwort flowers come in a variety of shades such as orange, pink, yellow, red, white, and purple. Even the leaves of this plant feature some colors. They turn red or gold when they first appear in spring before they mature into dark green.

This is a hardy plant that tolerates drought and is resistant to deer and rabbits. It thrives in full or partial shade and is ideally grown in zones 5 to 9.

  1. Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)

The Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart is a common shade perennial that you may find in many shade gardens.

This plant adds a touch of beauty to your garden with its fern-like leaves. It blooms in late spring or early summer with hanging white or pink heart-shaped flowers.

The Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart thrives in full or partial shade. It can grow up to 36 inches if you provide it with well-drained and moist soil.

This plant should be grown in zones 3 to 9. However, this beauty doesn’t last long. It loses its color and goes dormant in mid-summer.

  1. Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla)

With tiny sky blue flowers, Brunnera adds a touch of spring beauty to your shade garden. This perennial looks gorgeous whether in bloom or not due to its pretty, large foliage.

Brunnera is a low-maintenance plant that’s self-seeding. Therefore, you won’t even need to propagate it. It thrives in well-drained soil as well as full to partial shade. You can grow this plant in zones 3 to 8.

This plant can reach up to 24 inches tall. However, it tends to be short-lived, blooming for a short period during the summer.

  1.  Primrose (Primula spp.)

Primrose blooms early in spring, featuring flowers of all colors depending on the variety. These vividly colorful flowers appear on long stalks on top of the deep green leaves.

On top of that, Primrose is a primarily shade-loving perennial. It can tolerate some sun, but it thrives in partial, if not deep shade.

This plant is hardy in zones 3 through 8. It requires rich, well-drained soil.

  1. Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Virginia bluebells are low-maintenance wildflowers. They can be the ideal perennials for your shady woodland garden. 

In March and April, Virginia Bluebells reach up to 24 inches tall and produce trumpet-shaped blue blooms.

This plant requires partial or full shade. On top of that, it prefers average moisture and well-drained soil and is best planted in zones 3 through 8.

  1. Creeping Veronica (Veronica umbrosa)
Macro photography of birdeye speedwell, veronica persica, at soft natural light.

Creeping Veronica (Speedwell)  is an amazing groundcover perennial. In spring, it produces a brilliant blue flower with a white center. Later, in the fall, its deep shiny green foliage turns burgundy.

This hardy perennial can grow up to six inches tall, especially if planted in zones 4 through 8. In full or partial shade, this plant only requires well-drained soil.

  1. Bear’s Breeches (Acanthus mollis)

Bear’s Breeches is another perennial that thrives in shaded areas. It blooms with bold flowers and lush leaves.

This plant has long, jagged-edged leaves and thorny stems. However, its most prominent feature is the tall row of pretty purple flowers.

Moreover, Bear’s Breeches attracts bumblebees, bringing nature down to your garden. This plant can grow between 36 to 60 inches and is hardy in zones 2 through 6.

  1. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the Valley is a hardy groundcover perennial. It prefers partial shade and usually grows under the shade of trees and other plants.

This plant blooms with white bell-like flowers during the spring. It can add a mesmerizing look and aroma to your garden.

Lily of the Valley is best grown in zones 3 to 8. With well-drained soil, this plant can grow up to six to 12 inches.

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  1. Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia)

Foam flowers are mounding perennial plants that bloom with pretty white flowers in spring. They thrive in deep shade but can also tolerate partial shade.

This plant is low-maintenance. It requires well-drained soil and enough watering over the summer. With minimum care, it can reach between 24 and 36 inches and is hardy in zones 3 through 9.

  1. Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)

Green and Gold is a shade-loving groundcover perennial. It has medium-size green foliage, and it blooms into brilliant yellow daisy-like flowers in spring.

Although this plant spreads fast, it’s not invasive. This rapid growth makes Green and Gold a lush mat of green leaves that decorate your shade garden with exquisite beauty.

Green and Gold doesn’t exceed six inches in length. It requires shade and well-drained soil, and it grows in zones 5 to 9.

  1. Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)
Bright yellow Celandine Poppy, on a green leafy background.

Celandine Poppy is a perennial that blooms in the early spring. It produces clusters of yellow cup-shaped flowers on top of about twelve inches of foliage.

Interestingly, if you want this plant to rebloom, cut it back after flowering the first time. This second group of foliage will usually be denser than the first one.

This plant self-sows, so you don’t need to bother yourself with propagating it. This also means that if you opt for this flower, you should have enough space for it. 

Celandine Poppy is ideal for zones 4 to 9. 

  1. Hardy Cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium)

Hardy Cyclamen is a perennial that can lighten up your garden. It features mat-like foliage topped with small white or pink flowers that look like butterflies.

This plant thrives in partial shade and well-drained soil. It only grows between three and six inches tall and is hardy in zones 5 through 9.

  1. Blue-Eyed Mary (Collinsia verna)

Blue-Eyed Mary is a perennial that’s ideal for border planting. This plant is capable of brightening up your garden as it has light blue flowers with a white center, hence the name.

This plant thrives in partial or full shade. You can plant it as a groundcover or in rock gardens. Black-eyed Mary is hardy in zone 6 to 9 and can grow between six and eight inches.

Conclusion

What are the best perennial flowers for shade? 

The list includes Hardy Cyclamen, Blue-Eyed Mary, Green and Gold, Celandine Poppy, Lily of the Valley, and Creeping Veronica.

Perennial flowers are usually beautiful with vivid colors. Some of them can thrive in full shade, while others prefer partial shade. Either way, they’re sure to bring a feeling of paradise to your garden!