10 Best Shade-Tolerant Plants

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Contrary to popular opinion, a shade garden doesn’t just have to be filled with boring foliage (no offense, foliage) or left empty. In fact, you can fill the darkest corners of your garden with some of the most beautiful blooming plants that will make you want to spend time strolling the more secluded parts of your yard just to appreciate the array of colors.  


Place these perennials in shaded areas to build up a reoccurring display of summer and spring bloomers that will enhance your garden and thrive for years to come. After a few years, you may need to divide some of these to encourage healthy growth and promote blooming, so keep that in mind as you plant. 

Bleeding Heart

One of the most fairy-tale-esque plants, the flowers of bleeding heart will likely remind you of something straight out of Snow White. Delicate heart-shaped blooms drip off of arching stems in a vibrant display that catches the eye and ads depth to your shade garden. 


Spring-blooming violas will kick off your shady spots early in the season with a traditional flower that is prized for its pretty purple and yellow hues. Violas are perfect for a spot that is full shade, but they will also tolerate filtered light or some sunny days. Just be sure to keep them well watered if they are in a brighter area.


With proper planning, you can have astilbes blooming in your garden all season. The feathery flowers are a sensory delight, coming in a variety of colors, and the deep green, fern-like foliage makes an excellent ground cover when left to spread. 


Though hostas are prized for their lovely green and white foliage, they actually produce shoots of white flowers in the summertime that really lighten up shady areas. White flowers are always an excellent addition to a shade garden since they add a bright highlighting element. 


Massive blooms and a beautiful bushing pattern characterize this wonderful shade plant. Perfect for filling in darkened corners with a splash of bright color, hydrangea will blossom for years in a shady spot and keep your flower bed looking stunning. 


Though these annuals will survive for only one season, they are excellent for creating container displays on shaded porches or for plugging in around your prominent shade-loving perennials. Be sure to try a variety of colors and experiment with different plant combinations. 


Unlike other annuals that require vigorous deadheading to remove spent blooms and encourage the flowers to produce, begonias will keep blooming without any interference until the first hard frost of the season. Stick these in shady areas of the garden that you may forget about since they are incredibly self-sufficient and low-maintenance. 


This stunning foliage annual doesn’t produce flowers, but that doesn’t deter from its incredible visual appeal. Bright green, deep pink, or white leaves (to name just a few) highlight the darker corners of your garden with colors that last all season. 

New Guinea Impatiens

Perhaps the most well-known shade annual, impatiens are relatively hardy and can withstand a little sunlight or partial shade, meaning they are excellent for adding color and filling in a variety of empty areas in the garden. Impatiens come in a wide variety of colors, so be sure to fill your garden with as many as possible.


If you’re looking for the perfect “spiller” plant for a container, look no further than this vibrant annual. Fuschia comes in shades of bright pink, red, and purple and can add an interesting element hanging over the sides of your patio buckets. Plus, it’s a great way to attract lovely hummingbirds and butterflies for your viewing pleasure. 


Shade doesn’t always mean that the area is cool, however, many shade-loving plants also need a cooler environment, which can make it a challenge to find shade plants that also tolerate the heat. Thankfully, browallia can do just that. It produces lovely blue flowers and is another plant that would thrive in a container. In fact, pair it with fuchsia and an ornamental grass for a stunning bucket arrangement. 

Did we miss any of your favorite shade-loving annuals or perennials? Let us know in the comments below!

-Susan Patterson

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