What Are Some Flowering Shade Plants?

What Are Some Flowering Shade Plants? image by shelleys1/flickr.com

The number of plants that will grow well in the shade is relatively limited, and most of these are known for their foliage. A variety of flowering shade plants do exist, however, to fill in the dim patches of your garden. Their bright flowers can create a dramatic effect when contrasted with their shadowy environments.


These annuals are some of the brightest plants that will grow and flower in the shade. They come in pastel and fuchsia palates with colors ranging from white to dark red. Lilac varieties are the closest the blooms come to blue.


These perennials are usually grown and even named for the interesting variation in their foliage. Their blooms can be quite dramatic. Look for tall flower stalks with large flowers in white, purple and combinations in between.


Heucheras, or coral bells, provide interesting colors in both their foliage and their flowers. They bloom in spring and summer with sprays of tiny flowers on stalks in whites, pinks and reds. The foliage often provides a stunning contrast with variegated black, pink, purple, white or green leaves of the plant.


Tiarellas, also known as "foamflowers," are rather similar to heucheras. The main differences are that their flowers are white and are on taller flower stalks. A hybrid form of heucheras and tiarellas, called heucherellas, combines the colors of heuchera flowers with the larger size of the tiarellas.


This plant, often known by its scientific name Aquilegia, has multicolored flowers that look like a series of joined tubes. Columbine flowers are perennials that freely self-seed. Despite this, they are not invasive; each individual plant does not have a long lifespan.

Bleeding Heart

These old-fashioned flowers are always pleasing, with a complex shape that truly does resemble a heart with a delicate drop of blood. The plant's pink, red or white flowers soar over fernlike foliage. Depending on the species, the plant will bloom in either late spring or early summer.

Daffodils, Tulips, Crocus, and Snowdrops

Spring bulbs such as these can be planted in deep shade and will have enough energy for the first year's blooms. You will need to treat them as annual, however. Some bulbs, such as daffodils, will do well in light shade, especially if the source of shade is a deciduous tree that may not have leaves in early spring.

Keywords: shade garden, flowering shade plants, flowering perennials

About this Author

Jenn Mercer is a Writer, Poet, and Translator (French > English) living in Raleigh, NC. She has Bachelors degrees in both English (Creative Writing) and French from NC State University. Mercer has been published in the Grapevine, Astropoetica, Talkin Blues, Nth Degree, the CATI Quarterly, The Fix, and Uncle John's Bathroom Reader for Kids.

Photo by: shelleys1/flickr.com