Perennials for Shade

Even a dark, shady area of your property can look cheerful and vibrant when you plant a shade perennial garden.


Many plants in a shade perennial garden will thrive with only four hours of sunlight each day; some plants, like ferns, require even less. Still, when developing your perennial garden plan, there are other requirements that are just as important as the number of hours of sunlight a shade perennial garden receives.


One important consideration is the time of day the sun falls on your plants. For instance, two hours of intense afternoon sun may more quickly damage a shade perennial garden than six hours of morning sun. Because afternoon sunlight is typically more intense, plants can’t absorb moisture from the earth as quickly as it evaporates in the heat of the day.


Choosing plants for a shade perennial garden can be confusing. Heavily forested locations are examples of densely shaded areas as are areas where structures are placed in close proximity to each other. A densely shaded perennial garden might be composed of ferns and different types of mosses.


The north side of your home might be a full shade area, especially if there is a lot of lawn surrounding it. Full shade usually means the area received little direct sun, but still gets lots of light. Hostas, Lilies of the Valley and Bleeding Hearts are hardy perennials that enjoy full shade in a perennial garden.


Moderate or part shade means that a plant will thrive in four hours of sunlight, but can tolerate more if need be. The columbine is a perennial that will grow in part shade. Conversely, part sun or light shade means that a plant can tolerate a minimum of four hours of sun, but will be more successful in a sunnier location.


Other popular shady perennials include:


Aconitum (Monkshood)


Aegopodium (Goutweed)


Ajuga (Bugleweed)


Anemone (Windflower)


Aruncus (Goatsbeard)


Astilbe (False Spirea)


Bergenia Carex (Japanese Sedge)


Ceratostigma (Plumbago or Leadwort)


Cimicifuga (Bugbane or Snakeroot)


Convallaria (Lily of the Valley)


Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)


Digitalis (Foxglove)


Divaricata Epimedium (Barrenwort)




Filipendula (Meadow-Sweet or Dropwort)


Galium (Sweet Woodruff)


Helleborus (Christmas or Lenten Rose)


Hemerocallis (Daylily)


Heuchera (Coral Bells)




Hosta (Plantain Lily)






Lamium (Dead Nettle or White Nancy)


Liriope (Lilyturf)


Lobelia (Cardinal Flower)


Lupinus (Lupine)


Myosotis (Forget-Me-Nots)






Part shade perennials:


Alchemilla (Lady’s Mantle)


Brunnera (False Forget Me Not)




Phlox divaricata


Phlox stolonifera


Physostegia (False Dragon Head)


Polemonium (Jacob’s Ladder)


Pulmonaria (Lungwort)


Tradescantia (Spiderwort)


Most of these plants will benefit from a healthy dose of Bumper Crop mixed with your soil along with three inches of mulch on the surface. (Be careful not to cover the crown of the plant with mulch).


Of course when choosing a shade perennial, as well as a location within your garden, choose according to the growing conditions of your area. Yet, often when “nothing grows there”, the reason is because “there” doesn’t get enough sunlight. If you have a barren, shady area on your property, consider brightening the spot by adding a shade perennial garden to your garden plan.