Most flowers require six to eight hours of sunlight to bloom. Many flowers will do well in dappled shade and some in denser shade such as that found under trees. Early spring bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinth may be planted under deciduous trees that don't form their leaves until the bulbs have finished blooming. Flowers suited for shade are those found in forests naturally and cultivated for landscaping.
While most annuals prefer sun, several do well in shade. Begonias have small flowers in yellow, white or pink. The leaves are oval shaped and come in bronze, dark green or bright green. Impatiens are another small-flowered plant with small dark green heart-shaped leaves. The flowers are bright pinks, purples, oranges, white and light pink. Annuals bloom profusely.
Bulbs, Corms and Tubers
Cyclamen comes in shades of pink, white and dark pink, almost red from a bush of dark green heart-shaped leaves. Cyclamens are sometimes called bunny ears because of the shape of the flower. They do well in rich soil. Snowdrops thrive in shade or in dappled shade. The flowers bloom in very early spring, often while snow is still on the ground. Dog's Tooth Violet is 12 inches high with mottled leaves in brown and green. Flowers are pink or white. Bluebells are wild flowers still found in shady areas of the woods. Tuberous begonia grows from a tuber and flowers prolifically in bright colors of orange, red, yellow and white.
Rhododendrons put on a showy flower display from mid spring until early summer. The plant is sometimes covered in blossoms so that little green can be seen. They don’t do well in dense shade such as under low-growing tree branches, but prefer lighter shade such as when trees are limbed up to let in a bit more light. They prefer a mild, humid climate and require good drainage and acidic soil. Rhododendron beanianum has bright red flowers blooming early to mid season. Rhododendron Dame Nellie Melba has pink flowers and Rhododendron Dappled Dawn has light yellow flowers edged with peach blooming late season.
Helleborus grow from 12 to 24 inches high and spread from 18 to 26 inches. The flowers are mottled purples, greens, browns and whites. The Christmas rose is a variety of helleborus that blooms in late winter. Hostas are known more for their leaves and rosette-shaped bushes, but many varieties have flowers of white or purple. Pulmonaria's flowers start out as pink and turn to violet blue.