The Best Perennials for Shade

Shady locations can be spots in the landscape that are under dense trees, beside tall buildings, or just areas that do not seem to get direct sunlight. Shade plants can thrive in these conditions, not needing direct sun to live. Perennials for the shade mean that you can plant them once and not have to worry; as they'll come back again next year.

Lenten Rose

The Lenten rose, Helleborus orientalis, is an evergreen perennial from the buttercup family. Leaves are dark green with a length up to 18 inches. Flowers are 2 to 3 inches and white or greenish white with a bit of pink or purple. It will bloom in winter or spring. The plant mounds to be 16 to 20 inches tall. Plant a Helleborus orientalis in rich soil in heavy to light shade. Propagate via seed or by summer or autumn division. All parts of a Lenten rose are toxic; do not plant near children or by pets.


The impatiens flower, Impatiens wallerana, is an easy to grow perennial grown as an annual from the balsam/jewelweed family. It will be a hummingbird attractor. Impatiens wallerana will mount to 8 to 24 inches tall. Flowers will be of varied colors. Leaves are bright green. Sizes of flowers and leaves will vary by cultivar. Plant an impatiens in moist fertile soil in part shade to partial sun. Propagate by warm weather cuttings or by seed.

Burn Plant

The burn plant, Aloe vera, is an evergreen medicinal perennial from the lily family. It is drought tolerant. Leaves are fleshy and up to 18 inches long. The rosette will produce offset rosettes. Flowers occur winter and spring and are yellow flowers on up to 3 feet tall stalks. Plant an aloe vera in partial shade (can tolerant full sun) in well drained soil. Propagate via the offsets. The burn plant has a clear gel inside its fleshy stalks that is used on skin irritations and on sunburns.


The hosta, Hosta spp., is a perennial from the lily family. Leaves are varied on color and size. Flowers are lily like and can be blue, lilac, green, white, or violet and on stalks. Height ranges from 6 inches to 3 feet tall. It is grown mainly for its foliage and is one of the best known shade plants. Plant a hosta in fertile moist soil in shade or partial shade. Propagate via root clump division every 3 to 5 years.

Keywords: shade plants, shady locations, Perennials for shade

About this Author

Tina Samuels has been a full-time freelance writer for more than 10 years, concentrating on health and gardening topics, and a writer for 20 years. She has written for "Arthritis Today," "Alabama Living," and "Mature Years," as well as online content. She has one book, “A Georgia Native Plant Guide,” offered through Mercer University; others are in development.