Martha's Top 15 Favorite Shade Loving Perennials
Shade gardens aren’t known for their bright colors. However, the beauty that shade loving perennials have is very rich and full of subtle hues and textures.
These are my recommendations for wonderful shade loving perennials that will provide you with lots of interest in your shady areas. I’m giving you a main category of plants with a specific recommendation of a variety I like within each category.
1. AJUGA: (Ajuga ‘Burgundy Glow’) This6”H ground cover has white/pink/green variegated foliage with blue flowers. Great ground cover with lots of interest.
2. AQUILEGIA: (a.k.a. Columbine) (Aquilegia ‘Bedermeier’) This Columbine has pastel flowers that last May –July. Columbines have a very beautiful flower.
3. ARUNCUS: (a.k.a. Goatsbeard) (Aruncus ‘Misty Lace’) While the most commonly known Goatsbeard variety looks like a large white Astilbe, this ‘Misty Lace ’variety is smaller and more delicate looking standing only 18”tall with while blossoms on red stems.
4. ASTILBE: (Astilbe ‘Delft Lace’) This large Astilbe is fantastic! It almost looks like is glowing! Give your shade area a real ‘pop’ of interest!
5. ATHYRIUM: (Fern ‘Japanese Painted’) This small fern has purple and silver hues which set it apart from other ferns. Very interesting!
6.BERGENIA: (Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’) This perennial offers interests in more than one season! Rosy red flowers in the spring, green leaves turn to maroon in the fall.
7. BRUNNERA: (a.k.a. Bugloss) (Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’) This flower looks like a ‘forget-me-not’. It has lavender-blue flowers April –June and the heart shaped leaves are silvery dark green
8. CHELONE: (a.k.a. Turtlehead) (Chelone ‘Hot Lips’) Try this shade loving perennial for a bit more interest later in the season. This plant stands 3’tall and has deep pink flowers August –Sept.
9. CIMICIFUGA: (a.k.a. Bugbane or Snakeroot) (Cimicifugia ‘Hillside Black Beauty’) This tall plant is great for the rear of the border, especially if there is a light colored backdrop so that the gorgeous foliage which is a dark purple/blackish/bronze color really stands out. The flowers are like white bottle brushes.
10. DICENTRA: (a.k.a. Bleeding Heart) (Dicentra exima ‘Luxuriant’) This bleeding heart is different than the Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart. It is much smaller (15”H), has ferny foliage, and it does not go dormant early like the Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart does. This plant has flowers that will give you long lasting,repeat, pink blossoms.
11. GALIUM: (a.k.a. Sweet Woodruff)Very nice 6”ground cover with white blossoms in the spring.
12. HELLEBORUS: (a.k.a. Lenten Rose) (Helleborus ‘Brandywine’) 12”-18”Mixture of dark red, pink and apricot blooms in March.
13. HEUCHERA: (a.k.a. Coralbells) (Heuchera ‘Citronelle’) Coralbellsare a staple in any semi shaded to shaded area. This variety will add a punch of color to your dark shady areas. It has large, lime-yellow leaves with white flowers.
14. HOSTA: (Hosta ‘June’) Hosta’s are the all time best shade perennial in my opinion. Easy to grow and so many varieties! This one is 18”and has light yellow leaves with dark blue green edges.
15. VINCA: (a.k.a. Myrtle) (Vinca ‘Ralph Shugert’) This is your classic vinca ground cover but with a twist...it’s got variegated foliage with blue flowers.
Be sure to research these varieties a little before you select them just to know about the specific details that may pertain to your site...such as deep shade vs light shade, moist vs dry soil conditions and are there deer in your area. These perennial varieties will be sure to please!
The photo is Heuchera ‘Citronelle’.