I love perennials that don’t mind the shade. You can’t always count on sunshine, which means your garden is at the mercy of mother nature. If you’re planting in an area that has a lot of shade, you can still enjoy a multicolored and beautiful garden. Just plant these shade loving perennials that bloom all summer.
Shade Loving Perennials That Bloom All Summer
Let’s look at the best shade perennials for low-light gardens. And hopefully, you’ll find a few you love for your own garden 😉
1. Geraniums – Pelargonium
You might be thinking, “Aren’t geraniums annuals?” Geraniums are hardy plants and come in a multitude of colors. The annuals that people call geraniums are actually pelargoniums. Geraniums are perennial plants, and that means you don’t have to re-plant them every year after they die in the winter season, like annuals.
They keep coming back year after year. That’s pleasing to the pocketbook because you aren’t buying new plants every year. Many geranium varieties turn a lovely bronze or reddish color at the beginning of the fall season. And if you don’t have a lot of sunshine in the area where you want to plant, you can count on geraniums to bloom in the shade all summer long.
Cranesbill – Geranium Rozanne
If you want a geranium that thrives in the shade and flowers for months, try the Cranesbill (also called Rozanne). They make excellent border plants and have saucer-shaped flowers. Purple, blue, and pink varieties mean you can add lots of color to your shade garden.
The brookside is another shade-loving geranium. It displays beautiful deep blue flowers with white at the center from June through September.
Spessart is sometimes sold as a pink flowered plant, but the real spessart is a geranium with medium-sized white flowers. Once again, this is a shade lover which can give you flowers throughout the summer.
Partial Shade Perennials That Bloom All Summer
Maybe your garden has a mix of sun and shade. These partial shade gardens are the perfect place for perennials that don’t mind a little sun every now and then. If you have a partially shaded area of your yard you want to beautify, plant the following perennials that give you bright and colorful blooms year after year.
2. Lungwort – Pulmonaria officinalis
You begin to see purple blooms in early spring. The flowers tend to clump together, and you might know this flower by its other name, pulmonaria.
You can expect beautiful blooms all the way up until the first frost begins to nip at your plants. The silvery and green leaves are just as beautiful as the flowers to many gardeners.
3. Primrose – Primula vulgaris
Like lungwort, primrose begins to bloom early in the season. You don’t have to wait until mid-summer or later for a splash of color. If you’re looking for a variety, the partial shade-loving primrose perennial is definitely the way to go.
Mix-and-match purple and white, pink, red, and blue flowers. With a brilliant yellow center, this plant starts blooming before many other plants and lasts all summer long.
4. Bluestar – Amsonia
Many plants have self-descriptive names. That’s the case with the perennial bluestar, which blooms with a five-pointed, star-shaped flower. The bloom is a soft violet-blue in color on this low-maintenance plant.
If you have deer that like to gobble up your garden, plant the bluestar. It’s deer-resistant, and another bonus is that the foliage is full and vibrant long after the blooms have disappeared.
5. Bleeding Heart – Lamprocapnos
This perennial that loves a partially shaded area is on the delicate side. It gives a dainty look to your garden and blooms in a white or soft pink color.
If you can find blue bleeding hearts, count your blessings. This is a rare variety.
The name comes from the bloom, which looks like small hearts bleeding from the stem. If you want flowers all summer long, don’t go with the Dicentra variety, as blooms can become dormant when the warm days begin to appear.
6. False goat’s beard – Astilbe
Does your shade garden get a little bit of sun in the morning? If so, plant astilbe. It’s a perennial that likes to wake up to a little bit of sun to help it open its eyes.
You’ll get a better blooming experience if you expose astilbe varieties like milk and honey or younique lilac to the occasional morning sun. Look for pink or white, red or purple flowers that begin blooming in early to mid-summer.
7. Barrenwort (Fairy Wings) – Epimedium
You may have heard this shade lover referred to as fairy wings or bishop’s cap. It has a very unique flower that will start popping up in early spring. A lot of shade perennials that bloom all summer are physically tough and sturdy. That’s not the case with epimedium, that don’t hold up well if they’re in an area where they might get stepped upon.
8. Monkshood or Wolf’s Bane – Aconitum
This is a shade lover that adds some a height to your garden. If you want to create a layered look, plant aconitum perennials in the back of your space. This is because they can grow as high as 3 feet. They have sturdy green stems and gorgeous blooms that are either a purplish color or deep blue.
This is another plant that is deer-resistant while it offers beauty and color all summer long. You might know aconite him as a monkshood or wolf’s bane.
9. Coral Bells – Heuchera
Coral bells (also called alum root) are chosen because they have a unique, ruffled looking foliage. A little sun never hurts coral bells, but they do their best in mostly shady areas. They grow lower to the ground and present small spiky flowers which begin in the spring.
There are more than a dozen colors available, and I love that these are low maintenance plants that thrive without a lot of attention.
If you like hummingbirds, get to know the hardy fuchsia perennial (here’s how to care for fuchsia plants). It can grow from 6 to 10 feet high and just as wide. There are several varieties of this partial shade plant that doubles as a shrub. Expect tubular blooms from spring to the first frost of the season.
11. Jack Frost – Brunnera macrophylla
This is another plant that has beautiful foliage. You don’t have to wait for it to bloom to enjoy the way it looks. When it does bloom, you get teeny tiny, light blue flowers and they begin to appear in the spring. If you like low-maintenance plants this is the shade loving perennial for you.
Try the Jack Frost variety, whose name makes it sound like a winter lover even though it produces blooms during the summer months.
12. Foxglove – Digitalis
Okay, I know what you might be thinking. You’ve heard that foxglove does well in full sunlight. This perennial will definitely bloom when it’s exposed to sun most of the time. It’s extremely versatile though, and will do well with partial shade, especially if you are in a warm to hot climate.
Foxgloves produce unmistakably characteristic tall, spiked flowers in mixes of white, pink and light purple.
13. Solomon’s Seal – Polygonatum
This partial shade lover produces small, lengthy, tube shaped flowers which hang from the stems. Expect blooms to appear in late spring and last throughout the summer months.
Solomon’s seal blooms on upright stems and does well in partial shade. The blooms turn to bluish colored berries when summer leaves and fall begins.
Summer Blooming Perennials That Thrive in Full Shade
Some plants don’t mind if they ever get a hint of sunlight. They thrive if the only sunlight they receive is indirect. These plants are usually easy to maintain and they don’t require a lot of work on your part.
I don’t know about you, but with all the gardening responsibilities I have, that makes these shade loving perennials that bloom all summer a must in my garden.
14. Spiderwort – Tradescantia
Spiderwort is a favorite with a lot of gardeners for a few reasons. It’s a shade loving perennial that can do just as well when exposed to a sunny area. That makes it extremely versatile. It’s also a strong and hardy plant. That means it needs very little attention.
Choose from white, purple or pink flowers that you can enjoy from the beginning until the end of summer, and sometimes longer. Another couple of benefits here are that this plant is both deer-resistant and drought-resistant.
15. Bellflower – Campanula
Like most of the plants on this list, there are multiple varieties of Bellflower (campanula). Variations of blue, pink, or white flowers are produced in a number of sizes. You can choose a plant that produces dwarfed size flowers or taller blooms. The blooming season runs from early June all the way through your first frost.
16. Yellow Fumitory – Corydalis lutea
Most of these shade loving perennials don’t mind a little sun. That’s the case with yellow fumitory (corydalis lutea), except that it prefers no sun in the afternoon. Find a cooler area of your garden to plant this perennial that deer hate to eat.
It grows from about 8 to 20 inches tall. You’ll enjoy small yellow blooms from as early as April all the way through the frostier months.
Here are 10 more yellow shade-loving plants.
17. Foamflower – Tiarella cordifolia
Beautiful foliage and tiny white or pink flowers make the foamlfower a great addition t your garden.
More Summer Blooming Perennials That Love Shade
- The toad lily is a perennial flower that loves a shady garden. In blooms from spring to fall, giving you summer long beauty.
- Green and gold is a ground cover perennial that thrives in the shade.
- Garden phlox is another perennial plant that you can depend on for summer long blooms.
These and the other plants on this list come in a variety of colors and sizes, and can fill any need in your shade garden.
Many gardens have a mix of sunlight and shade. That means you need plants that are going to thrive in partial or full shade, maybe with only a little indirect sunlight. If that’s your case, plant Lily of the Valley and hellebore.
Dead nettles and leopard plants are a couple of other shade loving perennials that bloom all summer. Add them to your garden for low maintenance beauty that begins in the spring and runs until frost hits the ground.
Saturday 10th of September 2022
Can I put "rubber mulch", (I purchased 50 bags) around, well, just about EVERYTHING outside?
Saturday 10th of September 2022
That is entirely up to you. While there are some advantages (lasts a long time, doesn't attract insects, comes in many shapes/colors, etc.), I personally wouldn't use it in my garden because it can leach chemicals into your soil and it doesn't look natural.
Tuesday 6th of September 2022
Came across your blog and noticed quite a bit of misinformation... Geranium "Rozanne" does not bloom in shady locations. Trust me, I've tried. It is a full sun perennial. Fuchsia's are not a perennial in zones 1-8. So not sure why you added them to this blog. Lungwort does not bloom all summer. 2-3 weeks at the most. some varieties bloom at different times depending on how much shade they receive. Garden Phlox will not bloom in shade at all. They are a full sun perennial that will tolerate part sun, but will barely bloom. And no one uses the name Dead Nettle anymore, it goes by Lamium. And you really should have added what zone all these perennials will grow in. Many of the ones you listed will not grow below zone 5.
Friday 18th of June 2021
Hi - just some friendly wee corrections :)
When talking about perennial geraniums - confusingly under the heading Pelargoniums - you say “If you want a geranium that thrives in the shade and flowers for months, try the Cranesbill (also called Rozanne)” - firstly, pelargoniums are not true geraniums. Those are JUST the annual type, so pelargoniums are nothing to do with the type of geraniums you go on to recommend. It’s a common mistake, though! :) Secondly, the term Cranesbill is just the common name for ALL perennial geraniums (also called Hardy Geraniums). Cranesbill isn’t a specific type of perennial geranium - all perennial geraniums are cranesbills. Does this make sense?
You also mention Cranesbill is “also called Rozanne”, but it isn’t. Rozanne is a cultivar: just one of the entire Cranesbill Geranium species, like Johnson’s Blue or Mavis Simpson :) Since Rozanne is one specific cultivar, it doesn’t come in many different colours - Rozanne is a blue-purple geranium.
I hope that clears up some confusion for anyone reading this article!
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Thursday 25th of February 2021
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