Shade plants and shade perennials are plants that can grow with limited exposure to sunlight. Including favourites like toad lilies and hostas, shade-loving perennial flowers are great for gardens that are blocked by trees, porches, and even areas that have scarce sun time. Shade plants tend to be more tolerant of moisture than sun-loving plants, and many are native to woodlands and other moist locations.
Shade Perennials & Plants FAQ
What Are Shade Plants?
Many gardeners think of shade plants as foliage-only plants. But today, there are a wealth of options and colors to choose from, giving you so many possibilities for your shade garden. Not only do foliage-first plants like hosta and ferns provide a lush look in the shady sections of your landscape, flowering plants like lily of the valley, bleeding hearts, and toad lilies add woodland-worthy pops of color.
Do Perennial Bulbs Need Sunlight?
The amount of shade these perennial shade plants can tolerate varies. For example, bleeding hearts, sea holly, and lily of the valley need half-sun, half-shade, but astilbe, toad lily, and Siberian bugloss can tolerate full shade, although they tend to produce more flowers if they are planted where they get dappled light. Helleborus, or winter rose, tolerates full shade and produces very early spring blooms.
What Perennials Like Shade?
The star of any shade garden, and one that thrives in full shade, is the hosta. Primarily a foliage plant, most hostas do have striking trumpet-like flowers that bloom in mid-summer. Most gardeners, however, grow hostas for their striking foliage. You can find hostas with green-and-white striped leaves, with green-and-yellow striped leaves, and even with all-white leaves—some hosta varieties emerge with white foliage that gradually turns to green and cream. This perennial for shade is simply stunning!
What Are Good Bulbs for Shade?
One of the nicest things about living among the trees is that it gives you the opportunity to grow a woodland garden. If you are creating a woodland garden, consider such natural woodland shade perennials such as ferns and lily of the valley
, which can be allowed to naturalize to create a dense ground cover. Add several varieties of shade perennials—toad lilies, dicentra
, and helleborus
among the ground cover for a lovely woodland display. If you have a shady yard, don't give up on flower gardening. With a number of beautiful yet hardy shade bulbs to choose from, you can create a lovely flower garden without giving up your shade.
Which Zones Do Shade Perennials Grow In?
Just like sunny perennials, shade perennials are a hugely varied group of plants. Shade perennials often more protection from direct sun than their sun-loving counterparts, but there are plenty of shade perennials that thrive in hot climates. For example, most hostas can thrive in Zone 3 through Zone 8, and some can even survive the heat in Florida and other Zone 9 locales. Some shade plants, such as toad lilies, may not be cold hardy to the most northern zones, but can survive in Zone 4 or 5. Check the climate needs of plants as you shop, and visit our Zone Finder
to figure out your zone. No matter where you live, there are stunning shade perennials and shade-loving, bulb-grown plants perfect for your landscape.