Some flowers, such as begonias, even grow in dense shade.

The Best Full Shade Flowers

by Linsay Evans

Creating a colorful shade garden can challenge any gardener; after all, most flowers only thrive and bloom when they receive at least a bit of sunlight during the growing season. Fortunately, a few flowering plants prefer full shade, or sites that receive only reflected, indirect light. Whether you're planting under an evergreen canopy, under a deck or on the northern side of a building or fence, you can brighten up those full-shade sites with shade-tolerant flowers.

Red and Orange

For red and orange colors in a shaded site, plant tuberose begonias (Begonia tuberhybridacultorum). These annuals bloom from spring through fall with blossoms that range from pale apricot to deep scarlet. They grow up to 2 feet tall. Another shade-loving annual, impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) blooms from late spring to fall in a variety of colors, including red and orange. These flowers require consistent moisture and grow up to 2 feet tall. The bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia) blooms in late winter or spring with red-rose flowers atop 12-inch-tall stalks. This perennial is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 8 and should be divided every three to five years.

Yellow and White

For white flowers that pop -- visually, that is -- out of the shade, plant May bells or lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). Hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, this low-growing perennial blooms with fragrant blossoms in early spring. May bells spreads quickly and can be grown as a ground cover. Green and golds (Chrysogonum virginianum) thrive in full shade. These perennials grow to 9 inches tall and bloom with golden blossoms in spring. They're hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9 and prefer moist, well-draining soil.

Pink and Rose

For pink color in a shady site, plant a begonia (Begonia grandis). This 2-foot-tall perennial blooms from summer through fall with rosy pink blooms. It grows best in rich, moist soil and is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9. The spotted dead nettle (Lamium maculatum) produces pink blossoms from spring through summer. This shade-loving perennial grows to 12 inches tall and thrives in moist, well-draining soil. It's hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8 and has silvery-green foliage that adds interest even after the blooms are gone.

Purple and Blue

Violas (Viola spp.) grow well in full shade. These small perennials bloom with purple, blue and white flowers in spring and grow to 8 inches tall. Hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, they grow best in moist, well-draining soil. Variegated Jacob's ladder (Polemonium caerulem "Brise d'ANjou.) blooms with bell-shaped lavender flowers in spring. This perennial grows to 2 feet tall and is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8. After the blooms are gone, its cream-and-white variegated foliage adds interest. The browallia (Browallia speciosa), an annual, also blooms with blue-purple flowers in full shade. This fast-growing plant grows up to 3 feet tall and thrives in rich, moist, well-draining soil. It may self-seed in warmer climates.

About the Author

Based in the Southwest, Linsay Evans writes about a range of topics, from parenting to gardening, nutrition to fitness, marketing to travel. Evans holds a Master of Library and Information Science and a Master of Arts in anthropology.

Photo Credits

  • pixynook/iStock/Getty Images