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Outdoor Flowering Plants That Require Minimal Sunlight

By April Sanders ; Updated September 21, 2017

Most gardeners have an area of their landscape that sits in deep shade. These dark corners of the garden receive minimal sunlight and can be a challenge to brighten up. Blooming annuals do not grow well in full shade, and foliage plants may not stand out against the deep greens of a shady patch of land. Luckily, there are some plants that will flower even in those areas of your garden that get shade throughout the day.


Spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, can be planted in the shade. They must be treated as annuals, however. While these bulbs will bloom the first year, they will not bloom in subsequent years because there will not be enough sunlight to replenish the nutrients in the bulb. Bulbs in shady areas should be dug up and discarded after they have bloomed, and new ones planted in the fall.

Perennial Flowers

Hostas are popular not only for their ability to bloom in the shade, but for their colorful, variegated leaves. Even after their blooms fade, the leaves on Hosta plants will add color and interest to your shady area. Astible plants, with their tall, feathery flowers, will also grow well in shady areas. Bleeding Hearts, which can grow even under evergreen trees, are popular for their drooping, graceful blooms that form in the shape of a heart. Brunnera plants cover the ground in shady areas with a lush mat of tiny blue or white flowers.

Perennial Shrubs

Shrubs are excellent for areas of your garden that receive minimal sunlight because many shrubs also require minimal care, allowing you to plant them in those dark corners and pretty much leave them alone. Abelia shrubs not only bloom all summer long in shady areas, but have leaves that change colors in the fall, adding even more color to that dark part of your landscape. Camellias are also popular and offer a wide range of colors. Hydrangeas are wonderful for cooler climates and feature huge clusters of blossoms throughout the summer. For spring blooms, try planting a Japanese kerria. These short but wide shrubs burst into blooms with ornamental fruit trees in the spring.