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Shade Perennials

Shade Perennials

If you garden in the dappled light of woodland gardens, or on the north or east side of a building then you need shade loving perennial flowering plants for your garden. Check out our list of the best perennials for shade. You'll find plenty of flowers that grow in shade here at PDN!



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More Information About Shade Perennials

We have hundreds of the best flowering perennials for shade! If you garden in the partial sun of a dappled woodland garden, or on the north or east side of a building then you need shade loving perennials for your garden. We have a huge selection of shade tolerant flowers and we have sifted through our massive catalog of plants to create this mini-catalog of the best shade loving flowers for your garden. 

Below are several top-10 lists of the best perennials for shade to help you find exactly what you need.


Top 10 perennial flowers that grow in shade

In shade gardens, light colored flowers stand out really well. We recommend white perennial flowers for shade, or pale yellow or pink.

  1. Calanthe - small orchid flowers that like shade
  2. Cypripedium - ladyslipper orchids are highly sought after partial shade flowers
  3. Dicentra - bleeding hearts are quintessential shade loving plants 
  4. Edgeworthia - fragrant winter flowering plants for shade
  5. Epimedium - Fairy wings are colorful shade plants for early spring...both in leaf and flower
  6. Gloxinia - intensely red summer flowers are some of the best flowers for shade
  7. Helleborus - long bloom period in winter makes lenten rose one of the best best shade perennials
  8. Iris - shade iris have smaller blooms than their sun counterparts, but are more intricate in design
  9. Lycoris - partial shade perennials for a late summer flower show
  10. Paeonia - woodland peonies produce very large flowers for shaded areas

Top 10 foliage plants that grow in shade

Light colored leaves also work well as shade garden plants, especially when they can stand out against surrounding dark green foliage. We recommend for the woodland garden, shade perennials with colorful silver foliage or shade tolerant plants with yellow foliage

  1. Acorus - fragrant chartreuse leaves for shade. A medicinal herb too.
  2. Brunnera - very drought tolerant plants that like shade
  3. Carex - grass-like plants for shade garden
  4. Cyclamen - a dwarf shade plant with variegated, heart-shaped leaves 
  5. Farfugium - similar in form to a hosta but with glossier leaves and a fall bloom in the woodland garden
  6. Ferns - must have perennial plants for shade for texture, form, and color
  7. Hosta - hand down, the best shade plants
  8. Polygonatum - these tall shade perennials have an upright habit to balance out clumping plants
  9. Pulmonaria - silver foliage topped with blue or pink flowers make lungwort one of the best shade plants
  10. Zingiber - tall shade plants with large tropical leaves with a mild ginger scent

Top 10 shade tolerant plants for texture

When gardening with plants for shade, don't forget about texture either. Shade tolerant ferns offer a very fine texture to balance with the coarse texture of other shade tolerant perennials

  1. Adiantum - very tough and adaptable ferns for shade with a unique frond shape
  2. Alocasia - tall shade perennials with large shiny leaves
  3. Amorphophallus - bizarre tall shade plants with incredible leaf forms and flowers in the woodland garden
  4. Arisaema - jack-in-the-pulpit produces candy-striped, tall,  purple and white flowers for shade
  5. Athyrium - lady fern features a feather-plume-like textured leaf
  6. Helleborus - leathery, hand-shaped, leaves on this shade plant 
  7. Hosta - shade perennials that form elegant mounds in the woodland garden
  8. Onychium - very fine textured fronds on this shade fern
  9. Polygonatum - tall shade perennials whose leaves look like a staircase
  10. Zingiber - large, tropical leaves with a mild ginger scent

Top 10 native full shade perennials

When gardening with plants for shade, don't forget about texture either. Shade tolerant ferns offer a very fine texture to balance with the coarse texture of shade tolerant perennials

  1. Anemonella thalictroides - charming little button-like flowers on these flowering shade perennials
  2. Chrysogonum - yellow flowers and a groundcover habit for the shade flower garden
  3. Cimicifuga - tall spiky white flowers for shade garden
  4. Heuchera - a wide variety of foliage colors, and a mounding habit on these perennial shade plants
  5. Illicium parviflorum - the chartreuse-leaved forms make very colorful shade plants 
  6. Sanguinaria - lovely white flowers and a long history of medicinal use make bloodroot popular flowering shade plants
  7. Iris cristata - Intricate and beautiful flowers for the woodland garden
  8. Onoclea sensibilis - moisture loving ferns for shade
  9. Cardamine - a spring ephemeral with powder blue perennial shade flowers
  10. Phlox divaricata - shade loving perennial flowers with light blue blooms in early spring

Top 10 evergreen shade perennials

  1. Acorus - chartreuse leaves with a pleasant herbal scent make Acorus a great plant for the perennial garden
  2. Asarum - leathery, heart-shaped leaves that are frequently variegated with silver veins are great woodland garden plants
  3. Carex - grassy mounds with variegated leaves...better than liriope for the woodland garden
  4. Danae - a dwarf shrub with orange berries that tolerates dry shade
  5. Fatsia - large, hand-shaped leaves and cool, white, alien flowers
  6. Helleborus - leathery, hand-shaped, leaves on this shade plant 
  7. Ophiopogon - black mondo grass looks great growing next to silvery shade plants
  8. Pulmonaria - fuzzy leaves with wonderful silver variegation
  9. Ruscus - dwarf shrubs with small pointed leaves and red berries...these are excellent drought tolerant plants for shady areas
  10. Sarcococca - glossy green leaves with fragrant white flowers for shady areas

You can also narrow down your list of shade tolerant plants by special water needs: Shop for Dry Shade, or Wet Shade flowering plants here. Or you can narrow down your shopping list by plant type: Ferns for Shade, Grasses for Shade

To learn more about the best plants for shade check out our article entitled 'Gardening in the Shade' that describes many cool shade plants and perennial flowers and also take a peek at our short articles: Create a Woodland Garden with Flowers for Shade, and Full shade flowers.

Also, check out our many shady blog posts about shade plants and flowers and woodland gardens.


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