Annuals for dry shade is a bit of a misnomer. First, most of them aren't true annuals, we just grow them that way. More importantly, they'd all welcome regular watering. The 10 annual flowers listed here, however, will all bloom and grow in partial shade with minimal supplemental water and give a much-needed shot of color to a shady corner.
01 of 10
Balsam (Impatiens Balsamina)
Balsam is a member of the Impatiens family. There are annual and perennial balsams. Annual balsam is very easy to grow from seed and blooms pretty much all summer. It can withstand short periods of drought, but can’t stand wet feet. Balsam flowers in shades of white, pink, rose, and red and grows and blooms fine in partial shade. At 2' tall, it is one of the taller annuals.
02 of 10
Cleome or Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana)
Drought tolerant Cleome will bloom where it’s planted. In full sun, the plants can top out at over 6' tall. You probably won’t get that much height in partial shade, but you will still get plenty of blooms. There are some stunning new shades of purple cleome, as well as the pink and white standbys. Cleome is a self-seeder, but It’s easy enough to pull out in the spring.
03 of 10
English Daisy (Bellis Perennis)
English Daisies are supposed to be perennial plants down to USDA Zone 4, so maybe they shouldn’t be included here, but since we won’t be growing them in ideal conditions, don't count on them returning next year. English Daisies grow to about 12" tall, with daisy-like blooms on top of slender, bending stems. They look like refined wildflowers, in shades of pink and white.
04 of 10
Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris)
There are lots of dwarf Nicotiana on the market, in a variety of colors, but tall, white-flowers Nicotiana sylvestris is still an attraction. It grows about 5' tall and supposedly gives off a perfumed scent in the evenings when its flowers face upward.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis dissitiflora)
Not all Forget-Me-Nots are annuals. The annual variety grows to about 6 to 12 in. tall, with the typical Forget-Me-Nots blue flowers blooming in late spring or early summer. It may not be perennial, but it will self-seed with abandon, so expect many more plants next year unless you deadhead before the seeds form. Annual Forget-Me-Nots prefers partial shade.
06 of 10
Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea)
Most foxgloves are biennials, growing only a low, rosette of leaves the first year, then sending up a tall flower spike the 2nd year. Knowing that gardeners are impatient people, the nursery trade kindly starts ‘annual’ foxgloves in the fall so that they’re ready to jump right into flower their first year in our gardens. 'Foxy' is the most common variety of ‘annual’ foxglove. It’s a dwarf foxglove, growing about 8 to 12" tall and coming in shades of pink and white with the spots and mottling you’d expect, inside the glove.
07 of 10
Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana)
Impatiens are the workhorses of shade gardens. They prefer a slightly moist shade, but can grow and bloom without as much water, too. Just don’t leave them on their own in a drought.
Impatiens make a good indicator plant if you want a signal that it’s time to water. They will wilt and drop their blooms and then languish for a week even after you’ve watered them, but they won’t die without a fight. In partial shade, with minimal water, your Impatiens will shine.
08 of 10
Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
Lobelia has been bred to bloom, and bloom it does. There are trailing varieties and others that grow as nice neat mounds. The flowers are small, about ½" wide, but profuse. Blue Lobelia is the most commonly offered, but it also comes in white and pinkish-red. Lobelia is great for baskets and along the edge of a bed. Although Lobelia is a full sun annual, it will bloom in shade and prefers partial shade during hot, dry summers.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
10 of 10
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Sweet Alyssum is underused in shady areas. The plants stay low, growing 3 to 5", and form dense clusters of flowers in white or purple.
There is a sweet scent to some varieties, but you really have to get down close to tell. Sweet Alyssum is extremely drought tolerant and blooms longest if you give it a good shearing in mid-summer.