10 Best Flowering Shade Plants

We recently landscaped around our house, and I truly thought the shaded north side of our home would be the hardest place to find flowers for. However, I did my research and found lots of beautiful flowering plants to thrive in shade areas that get less than 2 hours of direct sunlight per day. In fact, we have a larger variety of flowers on our shady side than on any other side of the house! These are my picks for the best flowering shade plants. This post contains affiliate links.

Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Best Flowering Shade Plants:

Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Columbine

I’ll be honest here. I didn’t know what Columbines were until they just appeared in our shade garden last spring, but they’ve grown well and we’ve since added additional varieties. Columbines come in different shapes depending on the type.  The wildflower varieties are a unique shape which includes rear spurs, and the double flower varieties have tons of petals for a luxurious look.


Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Helleborus

Hello, helleborus! These winter bloomers come in many stunning varieties, particularly the double petaled ones. One of the downfalls to this plant is that the fancier varieties can be a bit expensive, so check with your local garden fundraiser sales and you might be able to find them for a steal like I did!


Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Hepatica

This beautiful wildflower can be hard to find at nurseries, but it’s certainly worth the hunt! One of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring, hepatica thrives in shady environments and can be found in white, blue, purple, and pink.


Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Bleeding hearts

Bleeding hearts are classic shade flowers that come in yellow, pink, red, and white. They bloom in spring and may rebloom during the summer in cooler climates. Plant these to add a cottage feel to your garden.
Buy Bleeding Hearts


Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Astilbe

I’m a sucker for the soft, cotton candy-like astilbe! We have pink and peach ones in our garden, but they also come in other colors such as white and red.
Buy Astilbe


Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Hydrangea

Hydrangeas are one of my personal favorites though it might surprise people to see them listed as one of the best flowering shade plants. We have them all around our house, and our first ones actually started on our shade side. We’ve had great luck with growing the Endless Summer hydrangea varieties in the shade. Other varieties such as Magical Harmony and Glowing Embers also do well in full shade environments.
Buy Hydrangeas


Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Bellflowers

Some varieties of bellflowers are short and can handle shade well, making them an excellent groundcover choice for shade gardens. We have started these on one end of our shade garden to see how they do. So far so good!
Buy Bellflowers


Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Hardy Geranium

You can plant geraniums anywhere! Ours do great in full shade, and they’re a wonderful way to add color to your shade garden.
Buy Geraniums


Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Spanish Bluebells

Spanish Bluebells can be planted in full sun to full shade and are available in white, pink, and blue varieties. These late spring bloomers grow to about 16 inches tall.


Best plants for a beautiful shade garden

Lungwort / Virginia Bluebells

I haven’t tried these yet, but this is another woodlands wildflower that can grow in full shade. Buds begin as pink and then open up into blue blooms.

What are the best flowering shade plants in your experience?

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25 comments

  1. Jann Olson says:

    Your shade area sounds beautiful! Mine is one of my favorite areas in the garden as well. I have everything you shared but some of the bluebells. Columbines grow wild in our mountains, but I love all of the different varieties. Another favorite shade plant of mine is forget me knots. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

  2. Michelle Leslie says:

    Oh I’ve never heard of Hepaticas, so very pretty. I wonder if they sell them in South Africa? We also have tons of Hellebores in our garden but I’ve never seen a white one – beautiful. Thank you for the wonderful list. If ever you come across a Clivia, please try it in your shade garden. They’re native to South Africa and are stunning, low care shade loving plants that put on the most glorious display in late winter.

    • Meg says:

      I just looked up Clivia & it’s beautiful! I’d love to find some for our garden. We planted a few white hellebores this past spring & I can’t wait to see them bloom!

  3. Jamie@Papered House says:

    I love this post! Most of our yard is shady, and we’re always looking for ways to add color. Hydrangeas and bleeding hearts are some of our favorites.For height, we like liatris (or maybe liatrus?) If you like the wildflower look, dianthus and annual candytuft work really well! I hadn’t thought of bellflowers but they look lovely. I’ll have to read up on them!

    • Meg says:

      I had never heard of liratris, but I just now looked it up. What a cool looking flower! We planted some dianthus on the sunny side of our house, and I love them! I didn’t know they tolerated shade, and I kinda want to add them to our shade garden now!

    • Meg says:

      Thank you, Mary! I’m new to gardening this year, but so far so good! Of course I have my husband’s help (he was born with a green thumb), so I can’t take too much credit :)

  4. Laurie says:

    Thank you for this post! So helpful. We appreciate you linking up your posts with us this week at Snickerdoodle Sunday! Pinned to share :)

  5. Katie says:

    So pretty – I actually do really well with astilbe as well, love the beautiful plumes it creates. I have not had much success with a bleeding heart, but my hydrangea does really well on the shady side of my house too.

  6. Shirley Wood says:

    Landscaping our yard is an ongoing process and we’re always looking for beautiful flowering plants to add. This is a nice list and will be one of my Featured posts at the new Merry Monday party starting Sunday night at 9 pm est. Thanks so much for sharing!

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