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Partial Shade Loving Perennials

By Mackenzie Wright ; Updated September 21, 2017

Not everyone has a large plot of unobstructed land for a full sun garden. A lot of people who live in small towns or big cities have a small plot, often surrounded by fences, walls, trees and other buildings. Some don’t even have a plot of land to call their own, just a porch, balcony or patio they want to adorn with some glorious flora. Thankfully, there are many partial shade perennials that appreciate a little shelter from the harsh sun.


Known by its popular name columbine, this is a hardy plant that has leafy green foliage. Distinctive bell-shaped flowers bloom in spring and summer. Columbine blossoms come in a variety of shades. Columbines can adapt to a variety of growing conditions, but they do best in temperate to warm zones. Regular watering and a light but frequent (monthly) fertilization will keep them blooming through the growing season. They should be mulched heavily with hay in cold regions over winter.


Astilbes have fern-like leaves with spikes of colorful feathery blossoms that can reach up to 4 feet in height. It’s very dense and full for a beautiful display. Astilbes are suited for USDA growing zones 4 through 8. Keep them in moist, rich soil and apply a fertilizer high in nitrogen occasionally and they are virtually maintenance-free. They are rarely bothered by pests or diseases and don’t need pruning.


More commonly known as bleeding heart, the white, pink or red flowers hang gracefully from the arching stems, resembling lockets. They grow well in virtually all but the coldest and hottest extreme climates, and require very little direct light. The foliage is fern-like and plants reach a height of up to 2 feet. They prefer a peat-based compost and well-drained soil.


The ever popular geranium, available in a variety of shades, enjoys a spot in light shade. Geraniums need a lot of attention when it comes to watering. They are susceptible to root rot if kept constantly wet. However, they will wilt, drop leaves and grow poorly if kept too dry. If you don't mind a little effort, their attractive, colorful blooms and unique seed heads are worth it. Geraniums do well in pots with good drainage, where it’s easier to control moisture and they can be brought in to winter over in the colder climates. Add a lot of organic matter to it’s soil but fertilize lightly.


Its long, flat green leaves set the backdrop for vibrant trumpet blossoms of yellow, orange pink or red. Many varieties of hemerocallis are two-toned with a star burst of contrasting color starting in the center and shooting through the bright petals. Also known as the day lily, the plants make an eye-catching display. They like their soil slightly on the acidic side, and should be planted in very rich soil full of organic matter. Mulch heavily around the plant and water it deeply once each week.


Lamium, or deadnettle, is a great option for a low-growing, creeping ground cover in an area that gets irregular light. It has dense, silvery-green foliage and sprouts small, tubular blooms in the spring. It is not fussy about soil and will grow in a variety of conditions, and while it likes partial shade, it can tolerate full sun or full shade. Very low-maintenance and adaptive, the biggest concern about deadnettle is that, if thriving, it can become invasive. Cutting back frequently and planting in contained areas will help prevent this.