Everyone adores a sunny garden with bold and bright blooms. But shady gardens also deserve some love. These shade perennials boast beautiful leaf colors and delicate, exotic flowers—and some have irresistibly cool names, too! Pick plants that work in your USDA Hardiness Zone, and talk to the nursery or read the plant label to make sure it can handle the conditions in your yard. Remember: Full shade means the area never gets direct sunlight. Part shade means it doesn’t get more than 3 or 4 hours of sun daily.
Lacey, toothed leaves and feathery plumes of pink, white, red, or purple flowers bloom in profusion in early to midsummer. A little morning sun helps them bloom better.
Varieties to try: Younique Lilac, Milk and Honey
These little plants are also known as fairy wings or bishop’s cap due to the adorable shape of their flowers, which appear in early spring. They don’t like foot traffic, so plant them where they won’t be stepped on.
Varieties to try: Pink Champagne, Lilafee
Frothy-looking ferns are sturdier than they appear, popping up again after even the toughest winters. They like somewhat moist ground but are fairly drought-tolerant once established.
Varieties to try: Autumn, Japanese Painted
These evergreen plants produce unusual, long-lasting blooms in late winter or very early spring. Pick a spot and stick with it; they don’t like to be moved once established.
Varieties to try: Phoenix, Kingston Cardinal
Silvery, variegated foliage and yellow, pink, or purple blooms make this a great addition to the shade landscape. It’s not super fussy and does well in dry areas.
Varieties to try: Beacon Silver, Herman’s Pride
Lobed foliage with red or purple veins make this plant interesting. Floaty little flowers arise on long stems in late spring to early summer.
Varieties to try: Cutting Edge, Jade Peacock
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The intricate flowers (spotted like a toad!) are the reason to grow these little gems. They bloom mid-to-late summer to fall in a variety of spotted colors ranging from white to lavender.
Varieties to try: Purple Beauty, Raspberry Mousse
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You'll fall in love with this exotic-looking flower that appears in early spring in white, purple, and various shades of pink. Its blooms often last up to six weeks. It’s an unusual landscape plant for warmer climates, or it can be overwintered indoors in containers.
Varieties to try: White Pearl, Kate
Grown primarily for its pretty ruffled foliage, this perennial's mounding habit shoots up small flower spikes with teeny flowers in spring to mid-summer. It will tolerate some sun, but its best color typically occurs in shade.
Varieties to try: Obsidian, Peachberry Ice
This perennial is grown for its striking foliage and graceful sprays of tiny blue flowers, which appear in spring. It’s a hardy, low-maintenance plant.
Varieties to try: Jack Frost, Alexander’s Great
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Tubular lightly-scented spring flowers hang above finely-cut foliage. The plant may die back in summer and sprout again in fall.
Varieties to try: Purple Bird, Blue Line Couriblue
Charming sprays of heart-shaped flowers in early summer make this old-fashioned favorite a must-have. The flowers come in a variety of colors ranging from deep red to pink with lime-green to dark green foliage.
Varieties to try: King of Hearts, Valentine
This pretty ground cover blooms in early to late spring with small bell-shaped flowers and spotted foliage. It looks best planted en masse. The name comes from its historic usage to treat lung ailments!
Varieties to try: Raspberry Splash, Sissinghurst White
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Although this perennial blooms well in full sun, it tolerates part shade, especially in hot climates. The tall spiked flowers are a standard in cottage gardens.
Varieties to try: Polkadot Princess, Foxy
The triangular shape and three leaves below the blooms of this striking native flower gives the plant its name. It's hardy, showy, and tolerates wet soil.
Varieties to try: White, Red
This intriguing native perennial blooms in late spring. The flower spike is the “jack” while the hood is the “pulpit.”
Varieties to try: Crossing Over, Triphyllum
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These delicate bells dangle on short stems and have a strong fragrance. It's a ground cover that spreads readily, so be careful where you plant it.
Varieties to try: Bordeaux, Rose
Huge heart-shaped leaves in splashy colors offer plenty of drama. They’re tropical so if you live in a cool climate, put them in pots so they can be brought indoors and enjoyed as a houseplant over the winter.
Varieties to try: Red Flash, White Christmas
This perennial boasts a thick blanket of deep-green leaves that grow on upright red stems. Pendulous tuber-shaped flowers dangle from the stems in late spring and become bluish berries in the fall.
Varieties to try: Ruby Slippers, Fireworks