Shade Perennials

            Lush, cool and lovely. Shade gardens have a tranquil beauty which can be a welcome relief in the heat of summer. Many shade perennials carry blooms, however, their foliage is just as striking offering a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

There are several types of shade: Morning sun only, dappled sunlight, exposure to open sky (no direct sun), 2 or 3 hours of direct sun per day, and deep shade (no exposure to any sun or sky). For the most part, shade perennials require protection from hot afternoon sun. Some can tolerate deep shade, but many need at least a few hours of direct sun or dappled sun.

Ajuga (Bugleweed)

A fast-growing herbaceous perennial ground cover that does a good job of choking out weeds. It produces shiny, dark green leaves and beautiful flower spikes producing blue, violet, or purple flowers in mid- to late-spring that can reach 8 to 10 inches tall, although the flower spikes on some cultivars are shorter. Several cultivars offer variegated foliage colors and patterns.


From later summer to fall, there is no other perennial flower quite like Anemone in the border. They are prized for their late summer color that lasts into the fall. Their graceful flowers are freely and continuously produced on tall stems over lush mounding plants. Flowers range from white to pink to rose, with yellow anthers surrounding a green/yellow center


Astilbes brighten shady gardens with their brilliant midsummer color. The plume-like flowers are held high above attractive, deep green foliage. Flower colors vary from white, pink and deep red, through soft lavender and violet, and all are attractive to butterflies and beneficial insects.

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

Blooms of the bleeding heart plant appear in early spring adorning the garden with attention-getting, heart-shaped flowers borne on arching stems. Attractive bluish-green foliage emerges first as the plant wakes from dormancy. The bleeding heart plant dies back to the ground as the heat of summer arrives.


This clumping perennial spreads from rhizomatous roots and has dark-green heart-shaped leaves. Small blue flowers with white centers rise on stems in spring; the bloom period lasts for about four weeks. Although Siberian bugloss is a slow grower, the species will eventually spread out and make a nice ground cover.

Columbine (Aquilegia)

Kirigami Series

Plants have a compact habit, the large, upfacing blooms usually bicolored in a variety of shades. This mix offers lovely shades of red, blue, rose and yellow. Deeply-cut green leaves. Height to 14″

Dragonfly Series

Flowers form a delicate star of outer petals surrounding an inner ring with yellow centers. Long spurs project out behind blossoms. Graceful, ferny mound of blue-green foliage. Dragonfly Hybrids produce a wealth of extra large flowers in bold colors of rose, blue, yellow, white, pink, and crimson. Height to 24″

McKana Hybrids

These feature large, brightly colored, long spurred flowers in various color combinations including blue and white, red and yellow, and even pinks and purples. They rise elegantly above lovely fern like foliage which remains hardy throughout the summer. Height to 30″

Songbird Series

Columbines from the Songbird Series are the largest flowered featuring long-spurred, upward-facing blossoms. Frilly glowing yellow stamens punctuate the center enhancing the intricate details of this lovely perennial. Will naturalize in a shady, woodland site. Height to 28″

Winky Series

Winky Series are compact perennials with divided bright green leaves and large bicolored flowers borne on sturdy stems in late spring and early summer. The mix consists of blue and white, purple and white, and red and white flowers. Height to 18″

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Heuchera is a versatile perennial, with attractive foliage and bell-shaped flowers. Also known as coral bells, they offer an array of colors and forms, multi-seasonal interest and long bloom time. Grow them in a shade garden or in pots.

  • Foliage comes in nearly every color imaginable, from silver to nearly black. Leaves are patterned, ruffled, wavy or smooth.
  • Flowers occur in hues of coral, red, white or pink and are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, and are long-lasting in cut arrangements.

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia)

A perennial with bright, small yellow flowers. Though the blooms won’t last long, they are pretty. For that reason, this low-growing “creeper” is best grown for its foliage, which makes an excellent ground cover.

Golden creeping Jenny is also called moneywort because the leaves are shaped like tiny coins.

Though it can quickly take over a large part of your garden, this fast-growing plant is also incredibly easy to grow and adds color and a softening of any hard edges wherever it’s planted. For these reasons, you might consider planting creeping Jenny in containers where it can become an elegant, sweeping plant that hangs over the edge of pots.


Delphinium are a classic garden perennial. These plants are excellent for adding height to small spaces. Their tall flower spikes are easily recognizable when they come into flower in summer. When in flower, the spikes of these plants become heavy and should be staked to avoid toppling over in rough weather, especially taller varieties.

Magic Fountains

The Magic Fountains mixture of shorter, Pacific-type Delphinium seedlings offers an exceptional range of colors, including lilac, pink, sky blue, pure white, white with a black bee and dark blue flower. Flower spikes are large and full, growing up to 3′ tall.


The flowers range in color from white to pink, purple, and blue and will range in height from 3-6′. These hybrids have excellent form, strong stems, and a vigorous growth habit. They were selected for their improved tolerance of heat and humidity, while retaining their cold hardiness.

Epimedium (Barrenwort)

Generally sterile, semi-evergreen to evergreen plants that spread by 2 to 6” long rhizomes. Flowers are medium-sized and variously colored. Medium-sized leaflets. Drought tolerant.