Perennial Flowers That Grow in the Shade

Brighten up the dullest, darkest corners of your garden by filling them with shade-loving perennials. Perennials are low-maintenance flowers or plants that live and bloom year after year. A wide variety of easy-to-grow perennials thrive in full to partial shade. Gardeners who have a difficult time finding plants for the north-facing sections of their homes or gardens often find that shade-tolerant perennials are perfect for those areas.

Lily of the Valley

The highly-fragrant, white or light pink, bell-shaped flower of the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) brings a graceful beauty to any shady spot. Lily of the valley plants prefer full to partial shade and are ideal for edging walkways or for using as a ground cover in beds and rock gardens. Plants reach a height of 6 to 8 inches and have a 6 inch spread. The lily of the valley grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 7, and thrives when planted in rich, moist soils. The flowers are drought tolerant but need regular watering during the growing season, once or twice a week is sufficient. The lily of the valley produces a red, poisonous berry once it's finished blooming.


The cold-hardy perennial hosta is a shade-loving plant that fills gardens and beds with attractive, patterned foliage. The leaves of the hosta come in various shades of green and gold; some leaves have a blue undertone. Hosta leaves are variegated and have white, cream or gold patterns. Shapes vary from heart-shaped to cupped and lance-like, and sizes range from 2 inches to 2 feet in length. Hostas grow in USDA zones 3 and 4 and, although they tolerate deep shade, they thrive when exposed to dappled or filtered shade for most of the day. Plant hostas in rich, moist, well-drained soil and water deeply--1 inch of water weekly.


The semi-evergreen, ground cover phlox (Phlox subulata) flourishes in partial shade and produces a delicate, bright-blue, pink and purple flower that puts on a spectacular spring display. Phlox reaches heights of 6 inches and has a 2-foot spread. The foliage of phlox is dark-green and prickly to the touch. Plants thrive in well-drained, moist, alkaline soil and flourish when watered every other day during high heat. According to the Ohio State University, the cold-hardy phlox grows in USDA zones 3 through 9. Phlox blooms early in the spring and makes an excellent spreading ground cover for use around houses, walkways or in rock gardens.


Commonly known as lungwort, pulmonaria ( Pulmonaria saccharata) is a shade-loving ground cover that's best used in rock gardens and as bed edging. The flowers of the pulmonaria exhibit a rather unusual behavior as they change colors when they fade. The red or reddish-pink blossoms fade to a shade of blue. The attractive foliage of the pulmonaria is deep-green in color and is often marked with white flecks. Plants grow in USDA zones 3 through 9, and range from 9 to 24 inches in height and have a 18- to 24-inch spread. Pulmonaria thrives in moist, organic soil and in partial shade, and must be watered three or four times a week.

Keywords: perennial shade flowers, shade tolerant perennials, perennials for shade

About this Author

Amy Deemer has been writing since 1992. Her articles on family life and pets have appeared in the family section of "The Herald Standard" newspaper. Deemer has an Associate of Arts degree in liberal studies from Westmoreland Community college.