The shady areas on your property are wonderful spots to cool off during the summer months. But many flowers will either wilt or fail to bloom in areas that are too shady, leaving your “relaxation station” looking barren and boring.
It doesn’t have to be that way! With proper planning the shady parts of your garden can be just as colorful as the sunny ones. Read on to see seven beautiful, shade-loving plants that will bring a splash of color to your cool-off spot.
Pansies get their name from the French word “to think,” because their blossoms look like little faces turned up in thought. These charming annuals come in a wide range of colors, from orange to purple to pink to yellow, and even in bi-color and tri-color combinations.
Pansies can thrive in full sunlight or partial shade, and actually prefer things a little cooler. These little beauties are even edible, as long as you keep them free of chemical pesticides, so their blossoms can add an elegant touch to salads or desserts.
Pansies’ cousin, the viola, is also edible and comes in lots of eye-catching perennial varieties, such as Viola cornuta “Black Magic,” which is a deep purple that’s nearly black.
Read our article on How to Grow Pansies to find out more.
Camellias are shrubs with large, showy blooms that are sure to catch your eye every time you’re out in the garden. Camellias are evergreen and often bloom even in cold weather, adding some welcome color to the winter landscape. Even their foliage is attractive—the large, glossy leaves look lovely, especially against the snow.
Camellias can grow in full sunlight, but they actually prefer dappled shade or partial shade. Most varieties of camellia are only hardy down to USDA Hardiness Zone 7a, though, so most of the Midwest would be too cold for this beauty; check your hardiness zone before buying.
Read our article on How to Grow Camellias to find out more.
#3: Tuberous Begonias
You probably think of tropical begonias as sun-loving flowers, and most varieties are. But the hybrid varieties known as tuberous begonias (Begonia tuberhybrida) are actually shade-loving beauties.
Their dubious name doesn’t do them justice: their lovely round blossoms and delicate, paper-like petals are more like a cross between a rose and a miniature peony than anything resembling a tube. Blooms come in orange, white, pink, red, salmon, or yellow; and flowers reach a height of six to 12 inches.
Tuberous begonias are perennials in USDA Hardiness zones 9a to 10a, so if you live in Houston or South Florida, for example, you can grow them as perennials. If you live in a cooler area, they are beautiful annual flowers for your garden’s shady spot.
Read our article on How to Grow Begonias to find out more.
#4: Bigleaf Hydrangeas
Bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) boast large, ball-shaped clusters of blooms that come in pink, lavender, and that hard-to-find flower color: blue. Hydrangeas can even perform the “magic trick” of changing their bloom color from pink to blue or vice versa with a simple adjustment of soil pH!
Most hydrangeas are hardy in zones 6 to 9, and these beauties actually prefer some shade. Bigleaf hydrangeas thrive in shade, partial shade, or partial sun areas but don’t do very well in really sunny spots.
Read our article on How to Grow Hydrangeas to find out more.
#5: Lady Banks Roses
Roses come in hundreds of varieties, each with its own unique beauty and its own needs. The Lady Banks rose (Rosa banksiae) is a fast-growing rose with showy, fragrant white or yellow blooms. Lady Banks roses thrive in partial shade to full sun, and grow to a height of 15 to 20 feet!
Read our article on How to Grow a Lady Banks Rose to find out more.
Azaleas (Rhododendron sp.) are vibrant flowering shrubs that come in just about every color of the rainbow. These low-maintenance beauties make absolutely striking borders, groupings, or container plants.
Most azaleas are warm-weather plants and are only hardy in zones 6 through 9, but some varieties have been bred to be cold-tolerant all the way down to zone 4, so now even upper Midwesterners can enjoy azaleas in their gardens. Check your hardiness zone and the plant’s information before you buy.
Read our article on How to Grow Azaleas to find out more.
While hostas can have purple, white or yellow flowers, people grow them mostly for their striking foliage. Hostas have large glossy leaves that can range from medium green to deep blue-green to variegated leaves with creamy white patterns.
Hostas thrive in shade or partial sun, and will make a beautiful border for the shady part of your garden. Most hosta varieties are hardy in zones 3 through 8.
Read our article on How to Grow Hostas to find out more.
Now, cool off in the shade, and enjoy the view!
- 7 Vegetables that Grow in the Shade (article)
- These Shade-Loving Plants Bring Maximum Beauty (article)
- Why Aren’t My Flowers Blooming? (article)
- Tips for Building a Shade Arbor (video)