How to Plant Perennial Flowers and Plants in Shaded Area


Perennial flowers are the mainstay of the flowerbed. These plants return each year, often increasing in size and creating a more dramatic display of color. Care must be taken to arrange perennials for optimal viewing and convenient access for plant care. Many perennials thrive in full sun, but some are equally at home in shaded or partially shaded areas. Choosing appropriate perennials requires attention to lighting needs, as well as the size and shape of the mature plant.

Step 1

Prepare the perennial bed in a shaded or partially shaded area by tilling to a depth of six to eight inches. Remove rocks and other debris and rake the area smooth.

Step 2

Add a two- to three-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure and work it in well with the existing soil. This improves texture, promotes drainage and provides adequate aeration. Organic matter releases nutrients into the soil slowly providing food for plants.

Step 3

Select tall perennials (like foxglove) for the back of gardens that are viewed from one angle or the center of gardens with multiple viewing angles. Consider the color and size of blooms, as well as foliage type.

Step 4

Plant mounding perennials like begonia, forget-me-not, bleeding heart or astilbe in front of taller plants. Ferns provide rich green foliage to shade gardens. Medium-sized ferns work well under tall perennials.

Step 5

Add low-growing perennials in the front of the garden. Tiny lily-of-the-valley brightens gardens and adds delicate fragrance. Periwinkle and wild violets add color.

Step 6

Space plants to allow room between mature plants for plant care. Follow the recommended spacing for the specific plant you are growing. Crowded plants encourage disease and make care difficult.

Step 7

Mulch with two to three inches of wood chips or other organic mulch to conserve moisture and control weeds.

Step 8

Water perennial beds once a week to moisten the soil to the root level. Soil tends to stay moist in shaded areas, adjust water as needed to maintain the proper amount of water for your specific plants. Avoid soggy soil.

Step 9

Fertilize once a month with water-soluble fertilizer designed for flowering plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tiller/Spade
  • Compost/Manure
  • Perennial seedlings
  • Organic mulch
  • Water-soluble fertilizer


  • Iowa State University: Perennials for Shady Areas
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Shade: Tall* Perennials

Who Can Help

  • University of Kentucky Extension: Perennials for Shady Locations
Keywords: perennials for shade, shade garden perennials, shade perennials

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.