17 Best Shade-Loving Flowers for Your Shade Garden

pink astilbe

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Ample sunlight is essential for many flowers to bloom, but there are some shade-loving flowers that are perfect for a shade garden. These plants can handle a spot that doesn't get full sun, and they will still bloom with dazzling, vivid colors. Plus, many of these shade-loving flowers come in a wide variety of colors and other characteristics. Some of the plants grow relatively large while others stay petite and close to the ground.

Here are 17 of the best flowers for shade.

  • 01 of 17

    Coral Bells (Heuchera spp.)

    "Honey Rose" Coral Bells branches with small pink flower buds

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Blooming from spring to early summer, semi-evergreen coral bells come in many shades of flowers and foliage. Grown primarily for their fabulous foliage, the plants produce wispy flower stalks with petite blooms. The leaves are traditionally green but also can be purple, gold, and more. These flowers can grow in full sun, but they prefer partial shade. Too much light can burn the foliage. However, make sure not to overwater them, as shady, damp conditions can cause disease.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9 (USDA)
    • Foliage Color Varieties: Green, purple, chartreuse, plum, red, taupe, coral, many variegated options
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
  • 02 of 17

    Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)

    Hydrangea plant with blue flower clusters

    The Spruce / Claire Cohen Bates

    Hydrangeas are a favorite among gardeners for their variety of flower colors and appearances. Some bloom in large, round clusters, and others have a smaller, flatter appearance. Hydrangea species tend to do quite well in the partial shade under tall deciduous trees (i.e., trees that lose their leaves in the winter). Too little light will reduce their flower output, but too much sun and heat can wilt the plant. Ideally, they should get morning sun followed by some shade in the afternoon. Make sure to give them some extra water on particularly hot days.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9
    • Color Varieties: White, blue, green, red, pink, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 03 of 17

    Astilbe (Astilbe spp.)

    Astilbe plant stems with pink and tan plume-like flowers

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

    The secret to cultivating thriving astilbe is water. These plants need moist, well-drained soil, so make sure to water once a week if rain doesn't do the job for you, and mulch around the plant to preserve moisture. Astilbes are slow-growing and produce plume-like flowers on stalks above the foliage in the spring and summer. They do best in partial shade but also can tolerate heavier shade. However, they likely won’t achieve their maximum size in full shade.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, white, lavender
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 04 of 17

    Impatiens (Impatiens spp.)

    Impatiens plant with red and deep pink flowers

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    With their brightly colored blooms in a multitude of hues, impatiens are popular annual shade-loving flowers. There are dozens of species in this genus, but the most commonly grown ones remain under 1 foot tall. They flower in the spring and summer. These plants will bloom to their fullest potential even in heavy shade, and too much light can wilt them. So if your impatiens are in a sunny spot, make sure to give the plants extra water.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11, typically grown as annual
    • Color Varieties: Red, pink, violet, coral, purple, yellow, white
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 17 below.
  • 05 of 17

    Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)

    Pink bleeding heart flowers hanging on red curved stems

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Bleeding heart blooms in the spring with arching stems of heart-shaped flowers. Even though they are some of the best flowers for shade, these plants will tolerate some sun in cooler climates. However, too much sun and heat can interfere with flowering. In addition to shade, select a planting site that’s protected from strong winds as the flowers are delicate. Also, when watering, make sure to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–9
    • Color Varieties: Pink, white
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
  • 06 of 17

    Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.)

    Light purple catawba rhododendron shrub

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Gardening under trees isn’t always easy due to the shade and competition with tree roots for soil moisture and nutrients. Where many other plants would die under the cover of trees, rhododendron species thrive. These flowering shrubs bloom in the spring to early summer, and their root system doesn’t like to be exposed to heat. Thus, planting them in a shady spot is ideal. Adding some mulch around your shrub also will help to keep the roots cool and retain soil moisture. These plants prefer acidic, organically rich, humusy, moist soil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–8
    • Color Varieties: Pink, lavender, white
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
  • 07 of 17

    Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.)

    Lungwort plant with small pink and purple flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    A nice attribute about pulmonaria, or lungwort, plants is they spread steadily but not invasively over the years to form a large colony. These plants bloom early in the spring when most other plants are just barely waking up from the winter. The blooms are bell- or funnel-shaped and grow in clusters. Lungwort prefers to grow in partial to full shade, but it also can tolerate more sunlight when the weather is still cool. Too much light can burn the foliage while too much shade can minimize flowering. The attractive foliage often sports pretty spotting for additional garden interest.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-9
    • Color Varieties: Pink, violet, white
    • Sun Exposure: Partial, shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 08 of 17

    Fuchsia (Fuschia spp.)

    Fuschia plant with bright pink and purple flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Fuchsia plants are prized for their bright, teardrop-shaped blooms on trailing stems. These stunning flowers need light to bloom their best, but they dislike harsh afternoon sun. Choose a location with morning sun and afternoon shade. Plus, a spot that's sheltered from winds is ideal. What fuchsias don't like is hot summer wind blowing on them like a hairdryer. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and feed your plants once a month with a basic fertilizer for annual flowers.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8–11, depending on cultivar
    • Color Varieties: Red, pink, white, purple, bicolors
    • Sun Exposure: Sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Acidic, rich, moist, well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 17 below.
  • 09 of 17

    Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)

    Siberian bugloss plant with small bright blue flower clusters

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Siberian bugloss is a long-lived and low-maintenance plant, making it one of the best flowers for shade. Its tiny, vivid blue flowers with white centers bloom in the springtime and resemble the flowers of forget-me-nots, but it's foliage makes it a shady garden star. Siberian bugloss prefers a shady spot and needs more frequent watering if it’s grown in sunnier conditions. Too much light can burn the foliage and cause the plant to go dormant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–7
    • Color Varieties: Blue
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun, shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 10 of 17

    Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

    Lily of the valley plant with petite white flowers and medium green leaves growing from soil

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Lily of the valley is a hardy ground cover with arching medium green leaves and petite, fragrant, white flowers that bloom in the spring. These plants tend to spread quickly and are notoriously shade-loving flowers. They can be aggressive in some areas, so check before planting. They can tolerate direct morning sun but should be protected from strong afternoon sun. Full shade is ideal in warm climates. Water to keep the soil lightly moist but not soggy.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2-7
    • Color Varieties: White, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
  • 11 of 17

    Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri)

    Wishbone flowers with light and dark purple small flowers on pink-green stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Wishbone flowers are annuals that should be planted in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. Their trumpet-shaped blooms will appear in the early summer and stretch until cold weather arrives in the fall. These plants don’t need much sun to bloom at their best. They ideally should get some morning light followed by afternoon shade. But in hot climates, they will need a fairly shady spot.

    • USDA Growing Zones:  annual
    • Color Varieties: Blue-purple, lavender, pink, rose, white
    • Sun Exposure: Partial, shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 12 of 17

    Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina)

    Lamb's ear plant with fuzzy silvery-green leaves

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    Lamb’s ear is an interesting, low-growing ground cover plant. Its silvery green leaves are thick and have a fuzzy texture. The plant can thrive in poor soil and has good drought tolerance. Be careful not to overwater it, as it’s susceptible to root rot. Partial shade is best for lamb’s ear, especially in hot and sunny climates. In cool climates, it can be grown in full sun. However, the attractive foliage might scorch under strong light.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–7
    • Color Varieties: Light purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
    Continue to 13 of 17 below.
  • 13 of 17

    Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

    Foxglove plant with pink bell-shaped flowers on tall stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Foxgloves have a tall, slender growth habit and bloom in the early summer with clusters of tubular flowers. Climate will determine how much light these plants need. In warm climates, they require a shady spot to protect them from wilt. In cool climates, they can handle full sun, though they still will perform best in partial shade. Make sure not to overwater these plants, as they are susceptible to rot.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–8
    • Color Varieties: Pink, purple, red, white, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 14 of 17

    Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica)

    Forget-me-not plant with tiny light blue flowers

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    With their delicate, five-petal, bright blue blooms with yellow or white centers, forget-me-nots make a beautiful addition to any garden. These plants have a wide growing range. And if you live in one of the warmer areas where they grow you should give your plants some shade, especially from strong afternoon sun. Forget-me-nots can tolerate more sun in cooler climates. Be sure to deadhead your plants (remove the spent blooms) to cut down on self-seeding if you want to control their spread. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Color Varieties: Blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 15 of 17

    Dogtooth Violet (Erythronium albidum)

    Dogtooth violet flowers with yellow recurved petals on a thin stem above large leaves

    The Spruce / Letí­cia Almeida

    The dogtooth violet or trout lily produces delicate-looking flowers with curved petals in the springtime. The blooms open with morning light and close in the evening. As one of the best flowers for shade, this plant thrives in woodland settings under the dappled light of trees. It needs protection from harsh sunlight and heat. A layer of mulch around the plant will help to keep the roots cool and retain moisture.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3-8
    • Color Varieties: Violet, white, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 16 of 17

    Hellebore (Helleborus spp.)

    Hellebore plant with purple-pink flowers and yellow centers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The Helleborus genus contains several species of shade-loving flowers. They are among the earliest plants to bloom in the winter or early spring with flowers that look similar to roses. These plants thrive in partial to full shade, though they can tolerate more sunlight in the spring when the weather is cool and the sun isn’t strong yet. But make sure they will have shade once the temperature rises. Also, be sure not to overwater and allow the plants to sit in soggy soil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5-8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, purple, yellow, red
    • Sun Exposure: Partial o full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
    Continue to 17 of 17 below.
  • 17 of 17

    Primrose (Primula spp.)

    Primrose plant with small light yellow rosette flowers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Primula is a large genus of shade-loving flowers. There is considerable variety within the genus. Many of the plants feature dark green leaves and colorful flowers that rise above the foliage on stalks. They’re fairly low-maintenance plants aside from liking consistent watering but not soggy soil. Some species prefer a spot with partial shade but morning sun. However, others do best in a spot that has full shade.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3-9, depending on variety
    • Color Varieties: All colors except green
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained