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17 Best Shade-Loving Perennials for All Summer Blooms

I love perennials that don’t mind the shade. You can’t always count on sunshine, which means your garden is at Mother Nature’s mercy. If you’re planting in an area with a lot of shade, you can still enjoy a beautiful multicolored garden. Just plant these shade-loving perennials that bloom all summer.

red primrose flowers.
Image credit: YAY Images.

1. Geraniums – Geranium spp.

Geranium maculatum flowers.
Image credit: YAY Images.

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, meaning you don’t have to re-plant them yearly 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 produce beautiful blooms in the shade. Most geraniums grow well in USDA zones 4-9.

Spotted geranium – Geranium maculatum

Try the spotted geranium if you want a geranium that thrives in the shade and flowers for months. They make excellent ground covers and have showy, saucer-shaped flowers. The white to lilac flowers are some of the showiest among the native geraniums.


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 shade-loving plant can produce flowers throughout the summer.

Partial Shade Perennials That Bloom All Summer

bright pink primrose flowers.
Image credit: YAY Images.

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

pink and purple lungwort flowers.
Image credit: YAY Images.

You begin to see purple blooms in early spring. The flowers tend to clump together; you might know this flower by its other name, pulmonaria.

You can expect beautiful blooms from April through May, opening pink and maturing to blue. The silvery and green leaves are just as beautiful as the flowers to many gardeners. Lungwort grows in zones 3-8.

3. Primrose – Primula vulgaris

blue primrose flowers.
Image credit: YAY Images.

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. Primrose thrives in zones 4-8.

4. Bluestar – Amsonia spp.

bluestar (amsonia) flowers.
Image credit: YAY Images.

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. Bluestars typically grow in zones 5-9, though a few cultivars are hardy down to zone 3.

5. Bleeding Heart – Lamprocapnos spectabilis

flowering bleeding heart bush.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

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. The native Dicentra genus has blooms can become dormant when the warm days begin to appear, but it is perfect for a native woodland garden. All bleeding hearts grow in zones 3-9.

6. False goat’s beard – Astilbe spp.

pink astilbe in flower garden.
Image credit: YAY Images.

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.

Expose astilbe varieties like milk and honey or Younique lilac to the occasional morning sun for a better blooming experience. Look for pink, white, red, or purple flowers that begin blooming in early to mid-summer. Most varieties grow best in zones 4-8.

7. Barrenwort (Fairy Wings) – Epimedium spp.

purple barrenwort flowers.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

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 fairy wings, which don’t hold up well if they’re in an area where they might get stepped on. These plants thrive in zones 5-8.

8. Monkshood or Wolf’s Bane – Aconitum spp.

blue wolf's bane flowers.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

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 aconitum as a monkshood or wolf’s bane. It grows best in zones 3-7.

9. Coral Bells – Heuchera spp.

heuchera flowers.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

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. Coral bells grow in zones 3-9.

10. Fuchsia – Fuchsia magellanica

red and purple fuchsia flowers.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

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. This species is hardy in zones 5-10, while the native wild fuchsia (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) is a perennial in zones 8-10.

11. Jack Frost – Brunnera macrophylla

Brunnera macrophylla - blue bugloss flowers.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

This is another plant with 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, which 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. It’s hardy in zones 3-8.

12. Foxglove – Digitalis spp.

Foxglove flowers.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

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. They grow best in zones 4-8.

13. Solomon’s Seal – Polygonatum spp.

solomon's seal flowers.
Image credit: YAY Images.

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. Solomon’s seal grows in zones 3-9.

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 my gardening responsibilities, these shade-loving perennials that bloom all summer are a must in my garden.

14. Spiderwort – Tradescantia spp.

purple spiderwort flowers.
Image credit: YAY Images.

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. It’s hardy in zones 4-12.

15. Bellflower – Campanula spp.

pink bellflowers.
Image credit: YAY Images.

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. Most bellflowers thrive in zones 4-8, with some growing in zones 3 or 9 as well.

16. Yellow Fumitory – Corydalis lutea

Yellow Fumitory - Corydalis lutea
Image credit: Depositphotos.

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. Yellow fumitory grows best in zones 5-7.

Here are 10 more yellow shade-loving plants.

17. Foamflower – Tiarella cordifolia

white tiarella flowers.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

Beautiful foliage and tiny white or pink flowers make the foamflower a great addition t your garden. This native perennial grows in zones 3-8.

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 summerlong blooms in light shade.

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 (lamium) 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.

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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check out her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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Jon Swedberg

Wednesday 20th of September 2023

Thank you for these great recommendations. I am looking to go 75% of my gardens to perennials.


Saturday 22nd of April 2023

I have sooo enjoyed this read!!! Lots of memories (of plants) like old friends …Thank you, and thank you again for your time , thought and care In presenting this lovely …….we’ll, ………masterpiece Many blessings to you in your garden.


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.

Beautiful Flower Garden Ideas

Thursday 25th of February 2021

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