Saturday, May 1, 2021

This Month in the Garden: 15 Perennials for Shade

15 Perennials for Shade

The shade garden can be the home to many varieties of perennials, displaying colorful foliage, blooms, or a combination of both. Here are 15 selections for shade, each chosen on the basis of interest, productivity and hardiness.
Heuchera 'Caramel' (Coral Bells)
Heuchera 'Caramel' is a newer hybrid introduction of Coral Bells with semi-evergreen caramel-colored foliage that lasts even through the winter months. Heuchera 'Caramel' is hardy in USDA zones 4-9 and produces stalks of creamy-pink blooms in late summer on a 12-18 inch high plant. Plant Heuchera 'Caramel' is a location with partial to full shade and a moist soil. Remove spent slower stalks in autumn and any winter-damaged foliage in early spring to allow for new growth.
Heuchera 'Palace Purple' (Coral Bells
I find Heuchera 'Palace Purple' to be the most hardy and longest lived of the Heuchera with beautiful burgundy foliage. The delicate white flowers produced on 12 inch stems in August to September that resemble baby's breath are just an added bonus. Heuchera can be grown in partial sun to shade and prefers a moderately moist organic soil. It is hardy in zones 4-8. 
Hosta 'Frances Williams' (Funkia or Plantation Lily)
There are 70 species of hosta with over 3000 varieties to choose from, ranging in color, shape and size. Once of the more popular varieties is ‘Francess Williams’, hardy in USDA zones 3-8, and known for its large 24-30 inch high by 3-5 foot wide chartreuse to yellow margined foliage and white blooms on 30-inch stems in mid-summer. 
Hosta 'Patriot'
Another variety of hosta, ‘Patriot’ is a hardy in USDA zones 4-8 and displays lavender flowers in mid-summer above 14-24 inch high by 2-4 foot wide white margined green foliage. The blooms of  hosta are excellent for pollinators and are an attraction to hummingbirds!
Carex (Golden Japanese Sedge)
Carex, hardy in USDA zines 5-10, Carex forms a semi-evergreen 12-18 inch tall by wide cascading mound of lime grass-like foliage that turns yellow-gold as it matures. Excellent for areas of partial shade and moderately moist conditions, Carex adds yearly interest tot the landscape.
Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
Dicentra, also know as Bleeding Heart, is a wonderful addition for a moist, shady location. It is one of the most cultivated perennials in the spring garden, is hardy in USDA zones 3-9, and produces beautiful heart-shaped flowers in spring. It is an excellent addition to the woodland garden.
Astilbe 'Vision in Red'
There are numerous varieties of Astilbe, each known for their various sizes, color of blooms. One of my favorites is Astilbe ‘Vision in Red’. Hardy in USDA zones 4-9, ‘Vison in Red’ displays purple-red blooms in mid-summer on top of a 12-16 inch tall plant. As with most astilbe, ‘Vision in Red’ prefers a location with partial to full shade and a moderately moist soil.
Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow' (Bugleweed)
Ajuga is a perennial groundcover that is hardy in USDA zones 3-9. Purple blooms form in spring above a spreading mound of green leaves that are highlighted with tones of cream and smoky pink. Plants grow to 4-6 inches tall by 12-18 inches wide and foliage turns to tones of burgundy in autumn. Ajuga thrives best in a location with partial shade.
Lobelia 'Cardinal'
Lobelia is excellent perennial for moist shady conditions and is hardy in USDA zones 4-9. Upright stalks of bright red flowers appear on a 24 inch tall plant in mid to late summer.
Ligularia 'Rocket'
Ligularia is another selection that thrives best on moist, shady conditions. It is hardy in USDA zones 3-9 and produces tall stalks of yellow blooms in mid to late summer on a 3-4 foot tall plant.
Ophiopogon (Mondo Grass)
Mondo Grass, hardy in USDA zones 6-10 is actually not a grass, but rather a member of the genus Ophiopogon, a genus of evergreen perennial plants native to India, China, Japan and Vietnam. Mondo grass prefers an area of partial to full shade and a moderately moist soil. 

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo Grass)
Black Mondo Grass is considered a ground cover that grows to approximately ten inches tall and slowly spreads to about two feet in width. Foliage emerges as dark green in spring and matures to a deep purplish-black by summer. Black Mondo Grass is hardy in zones 6-10.
Acornus (Golden Sweet Flag) with Black Mondo Grass
To add that wanted interest and drama to the garden, combine Mondo Grass with other grass-like  plantings such as Variegated Liriope, Golden Japanese Sedge and Golden Variegated Sweet Flag (as pictured above). Sweet Flag is an evergreen perennial hardy in USDA zones 5-11, displaying golden variegated foliage that grows in clumps. It is best grown in a moist, partially shaded area and is great for naturalizing.
Chelone lyonni (Turtlehead)
Chelone lyonii is hardy in USDA zones 3-8, produces showy rosy-pink blooms resembling what looks like turtle heads. Blooms appear late summer into fall on a 24-30 tall plant. Chelone prefers a shady to semi-shady location with abundant moisture. Pinch foliage back in mid-spring to encourage fullness.
Liriope 'Variegata' (Lilyturf)
Liriope muscari 'Variegata' is popular for its grass-like, cream or yellow-margined leaves. Liriope can be grown in sun or shade and produces small purple blooms in August to September followed by round, dark purple berries. Liriope is very versatile as it can be planted just about anywhere in the garden as a complement to other plantings and is hardy in USDA zones 6-11. Liriope provides interest all season long as a lovely addition of texture to the garden and the late summer blooms just add an extra surprise! Cut back lilyturf in early spring to remove winter damaged foliage and to promote new growth.
15 Perennials for Shade
I hope you enjoyed This Month in the Garden: 15 Perennials for Shade. Be sure to stop by on the 1st. and 15th. of each month as I continue to share gardening tips, information and horticultural adventures! (Linking with: Floral FridaysMacro Monday 2Ruby Tuesday and Image-in-ing Weekly Photo Link-Up.

For gardening info and tips: Visit my Author Page/Purchase My Books  Be sure to check out my newest book: Gardening by Month for 12-months of interest in the landscape!😊
Author: Lee @A Guide to Northeastern Gardening,© Copyright 2010-2021. All rights reserved. 


  1. Bellissime! Degli ottimi consigli!

    Buon fine settimana :)

  2. I love the caramel color of the leaves, Lee. Heuchera 'Caramel' fits my garden. The striped leaves of the hosta are visible from the gate when I enter the garden and are very decorating. Ayuga is growing a lot and that's why I have removed it from the garden now. I have never seen Chelone lyonii here, I need to look for it in the garden center.
    Thanks for the info.


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