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Flowering Perennials for Shade

By Regina Sass ; Updated September 21, 2017
The delicate periwinkle thrives in the shade.
Periwinkle image by Menillo from Fotolia.com

Not all flowering perennials need full sun in order to produce outstanding flowers. Both low-growing perennials and perennial shrubs do just as well, if not better, planted in the shade of a building or taller growing, sun-loving plants. Every gardener contends with different levels of sunlight, and there is no reason why the shade areas have to be less spectacular than those with the brightest sun.

Common Periwinkle

Common periwinkle (Vinca minor) is also known as creeping myrtle and lesser periwinkle and is a member of the dogbane family. The plant is a fast growing vine that grows along the ground producing evergreen leaves that grow up to 2 inches long. The violet-blue flowers measure about 1 inch across and grow on stems from 4 to 8 inches tall from spring through summer. Plant common periwinkle in full shade in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and 9 and in shade or sun in other areas. The plant will grow fastest in a moist soil and is hardy in Zones 4 through 9.

Lenten Rose

Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) is a member of the buttercup family. The plant is an evergreen in Zones 6 to 9, and deciduous further north, that grows from 16 to 20 inches tall and produces dark green leaves that grow up to 18 inches long and 16 inches wide. The white, green-white, pink, rose or purple flowers resemble a single rose, measure 2 to 3 inches across, grow in clusters and bloom in the winter or very early spring. Plant lenten rose in full or light shade and a soil that is moist and well drained. The plant is hardy in Zones 4 through 9.

Confederate Rose

Confederate rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) is also known as cotton rose and is a member of the mallow family. The deciduous plant is a large shrub or small tree that grows up to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. The plant produces bright-green leaves that grow from 5 to 7 inches long and flowers that start out as white, turn a deep pink and finally a dark blue-pink with all three colors appearing on the same plant at the same time. The flowers grow from 3 to 5 inches across and produce a round, hairy seed capsule. Plant the confederate rose in light shade and a soil that is lightly moist to dry. The plant is hardy in Zones 7 though 9.

Pinxter Azalea

Pinxter azalea (Rhododendron canescens) is also known as Piedmont azalea, wild azalea and bush honeysuckle and is a member of the heath family. The plant is a deciduous shrub that grows from 6 to 15 feet tall and about the same in width, producing leaves that grow from 1 to 3 inches long and tube-shaped, fragrant, pink or white flowers that appear in the spring along with the leaves. Plant pinxter azalea in partial or full shade or full sun and in a soil that is consistently moist. The plant is hardy in Zones 6 to 9.