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Annual Flowers for Shade

By J.D. Chi ; Updated September 21, 2017

Used for adding color in shady areas, shade annuals may be changed out every year for a new look. Some flowering plants are shade lovers, while there are also some plants with colored leaves that can add pop to a shaded garden area. The term shade may differ from partial to full, depending on the region. Few annuals thrive in full shade, but there are several tried-and-true partial-shade annuals.


Begonias (Begonia) are available in multiple varieties and are bushy plants with white, pink or red flowers that range in size from small clusters to a large saucer-shaped bloom. Begonias flower year-round in warmer climates, with the exception of the wax begonia, which flowers from late spring through early fall. Begonias range in size from 1 to 4 feet. Soil should be moist but not soggy, and plants should be watered frequently.


Coleus (Coleus hybridus), which can grow 2 feet tall and has leaves that are up to 6 inches long, is a shade annual with colorful leaves. Foliage may be green, yellow, chartreuse, salmon, orange, red, purple or brown, and in many cases, one leaf may showcase multiple colors. These plants also have a blue flower spike. Coleus thrive in shade or sun, depending on the particular variety, but an easy indicator is leaf color--the redder the leaf, the more sun tolerant the plant.


Impatiens (Impatiens), which do well in pots, crave shade but add a splash of color. These plants, which can grow to 2 feet tall, flower through the summer and are available in white, red, pink and orange. As the flowers open, they spread seeds, and new plants crop up. Impatiens are a staple in Southern gardens, where they flower nearly year-round and can be treated as perennials. A new variety, the New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri), can withstand morning sun but needs afternoon shade.


About the Author


J.D. Chi is a professional journalist who has covered sports for more than 20 years at newspapers all over the United States. She has covered major golf tournaments and the NFL as well as travel and health topics. Chi received her Bachelor of Arts in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University and is working toward a master's degree in journalism.