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What Flowering Plants Grow in the Shade?

Finding flowers that bloom without lots of sun can be difficult! Find out what flowering plants grow in shade to brighten up those dark areas!

best flowering plants that grow in the shade

The garden in the front of our house faces north, so it gets very little direct sun except at the peak of summer. As a result, sun-loving plants can become scraggly or die.

I desperately wanted to fill this space with beautiful flowers for maximum curb appeal. Before spending a ton of money on new plants that might not survive, I did some research to find out what flowering plants grow in the shade.

Shade Levels

Know what type of shade you have before you buy your plants! Plants that are labeled as part shade will not do as well in a deep shade area that doesn't get any direct sunlight. On the other hand, full shade plants may struggle if they are blasted by the hot afternoon sun at certain points of the year.

Part shade (or part sun) plants should get 4-6 hours of sun every day, preferably morning sun. Full shade plants still need 2-4 hours of sun, even if it's just dappled light through the trees.

If you're looking for an evergreen ground cover to pair with your shade-loving flowering plants, consider Pachysandra for your space. It will fill in the bare areas under trees where other plants may struggle.

dappled sunlight through trees onto garden beds

Also keep in mind when your trees leaf out in the spring and fall in autumn. If you have shade-loving plants under a tree that doesn't develop leaves until early summer, they'll be exposed to full sunlight for a good part of their growing season.

It's a good idea to keep a gardening journal to document how much sun or shade each area of your garden receives at various times of the year.


pink hellebore

If you want to add some color to your shade garden in the colder months, hellebore is the perfect choice. These perennial flowers bloom in late winter or early spring, and come in a variety of colors.

Their foliage is semi-evergreen, so you'll want to cut away the tired looking leaves in spring for a fresh flush that lasts the rest of the season. During the summer, their green leaves serve as a ground cover while the plant goes dormant.


red and yellow begonias

Begonias are beautiful shade-loving annual flowers that come in a variety of colors. The double bloom variety resembles roses, but you would never find a rose in the shade!

These red and yellow flowers really bring a splash of color to the shady area of my garden! I always get a lot of complements from neighbors walking by this corner of the yard, and everyone wants to know what kind of plant these are!


red and purple fuchsia

These are one of my favorite shade flowers! Hardy fuchsia is a perennial plant in our area (zone 8b), so they come back year after year and have a long bloom time.

The long, tubular blooms are a hummingbird magnet, and they typically have red, purple or pink flowers. The drooping flowers also make great "spiller" in shady window boxes or hanging baskets.


pink and white impatiens along a brick pathway

Impatiens are great as a border plant in a shade flower garden. You can plant these little gems close together to create a solid band of color at the front of the flower bed, and they will continue to bloom from spring until frost.


various shades of pink astilbe growing in a field

Astilbe is a superb choice for shady areas of the garden due to its high tolerance for low light conditions. In these spots, where many plants struggle to thrive, Astilbe flourishes, bringing vibrant colors and unique textures with its feathery blooms and lush foliage.

Himalayan Sweetbox

himalayan sweetbox planted in corner of concrete patio

This winter blooming evergreen shrub grows to only 18" tall, but spreads out to 3 feet. Himalayan sweetbox has a beautiful fragrance when the tiny white flowers are in bloom, which then turn into berries for wildlife.

I planted a group of these near our front steps to give us a whiff of spring in late winter, and the green leaves soften the hard concrete corner in summer.

Creeping Myrtle

purple creeping myrtle

Also known as Vinca Minor, this low-growing plant features purple flowers in late spring. It's a good choice for those bare spots under trees where nothing else seems to grow, although it can spread if not kept in check.


coral bells heuchera

These shade perennials are also known as Coral Bells. They're mainly grown as foliage plants but will send up a tall stalk with tiny flowers at the top in midsummer. Their attractive, colorful foliage ranges from a deep purple or red to lighter copper hues, and their ruffled texture contrasts nicely with hostas and ferns.

Solomon's Seal

Solomon's seal plants with flowers

I came across a huge field of Solomon's seal at the Rhododendron Species Garden here in the Seattle area, and I knew I had to recreate it in my backyard woodland garden. This tall plant has gracefully arching stems with small white blooms that resemble bells that hang from the underside.

Lily of the Valley

lily of the valley

Lily of the Valley is a hardy plant that creates a beautiful ground cover with small white flowers in late spring. Once the blooms have faded, it stays green throughout the summer. I have some of these planted around the base of a tall ornamental grass that provides lots of dry shade in summer.


Brunnera, or Siberian bugloss, is another plant that is grown for its attractive silvery foliage, but also has beautiful blue flowers in spring. It prefers moist soil, so pair it with other shade lovers in the damp corners of the garden.

Bleeding Hearts

bleeding hearts

Bleeding hearts are the perfect springtime flower, with heart shaped blooms on graceful arched stems. You can find them in their traditional pink color, red, or white. They bloom and fade fairly quickly, so you can add summer and fall interest to the same space.

All this talk about flowers makes me want to get out there and get my hands dirty! Hopefully you've found some new beautiful blooms to add to the shady areas of your garden beds!