Now that August has arrived, most of us are looking for a cool oasis where we can escape from the sun’s harsh rays, especially in the heat of the afternoon. Whether your shady spot has a hammock, a deck, or a water feature, you’d probably enjoy it even more if you had some beautiful blooms to gaze at while you sip your iced tea or lemonade. These shade-loving plants will bring color and personality to your garden retreat, so you can soothe all your senses. Savor your cool escape!
Some of the benefits to choosing annual flowers is that they tend to bloom for longer periods, and you can buy potted annuals at any time during the year instead of waiting for your perennials to bloom. While annuals won’t come up every year on their own like perennials will, you can use easy garden hacks to cut down on the work, such as choosing easy-to-plant annuals that just require you to scatter the seeds, or “planting” empty pots in the ground that you can drop pots of perennials into each year instead of transplanting. Click here for descriptions of easy garden hacks. Here are some of the best annual shade flowers:
- Baby blue eyes. Baby blue eyes is a spreading ground-cover annual that produces lots of small, five-petal, cup-shaped blooms of a lovely deep blue color (see photo above). This hardy, low-maintenance plant needs little water to thrive, and attracts important pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
- Nicotiana alata. Nicotiana alata, or flowering nicotine, is a beautiful pink or white annual that thrives in the shade or partial sun. It grows to a height of 36 to 60 inches, and makes a lovely border plant, container plant, or feature plant. Nicotiana can also attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and is perfect for dried flower aarrangements.
- Browallia. The browallia, or bush violet, produces medium-sized five-petalled bluish-violet blooms that make lovely border plants, container plants, or massings. Browallia will reach a height of 8 to 9 inches.
Perennials give you the most bang for your buck, because you only have to plant them once in order to enjoy beautiful blooms year after year. Some of the best perennial shade flowers include:
- Toad lilies. The name may not be so beautiful, but the flower sure is (see photo above). Toad lilies can be pure white, which creates a pretty glow in the shade, or can be white dappled with blues, pinks, or purples. People often compare this exotic-looking bloom with orchids, which is understandable even though the two flowers aren’t actually related.
- Bleeding heart. Bleeding hearts are an all-time favorite shade flower, and with good reason. This shade-loving plant produces striking pendant-like pink, red or white blooms that look like little dangling hearts. The bleeding heart thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3a to 9a, which covers most of the U.S. Best of all, this beautiful bloom has a reputation for attracting hummingbirds, another one of nature’s beauties. The bleeding heart is a definite winner!
- Ajugas. Ajugas are doubly blessed: they have attractive bi-color foliage, and they produce spikes of lovely blue springtime blooms. There are also varieties of ajuga that have dark purple foliage, or blooms that are pink or white.
- Flowering dogwood. With its large, gorgeous, pink blooms, the flowering dogwood is one of spring’s most flamboyant beauties (see photo above). This gorgeous tree will also catch the eye of quite a few bird species, so prepare to be entertained! The flowering dogwood tolerates a good deal of shade, so don’t worry about planting this beauty on the north side of your property.
- Canadian hemlock. The Canadian hemlock is a fragrant evergreen tree that grows very tall in the wild (80 feet or taller), but you can keep it much shorter with proper pruning. This handsome, long-lived tree has a fine, compact texture that makes it an ideal “privacy fence” tree. The needles of the Canadian hemlock tree are much smaller than those of pine trees, making these trees much less messy than their evergreen cousins.
The best thing about container plants is that it doesn’t matter how late in the season it is. You can just stop by the garden center anytime and pick up a beautiful container plant to add to your patio or gazebo with no muss and no fuss, and get an instant pick-me-up. Choose one of these shade-loving plants, and you’ll be sure to have blooms that are just as happy with the cool respite from the sun’s rays as you are.
- Torenia. The torenia, or “wishbone flower,” is an eye-catching flower with vivid-colored, unusually-shaped blooms (see photo above). Also, torenia blooms can be purple, pink, blue, or yellow, and usually fade from dark-hued to light. Torenia requires very little care other than generous watering, so it’s easy to keep this beauty happy!
- Heuchera. The heuchera has attractive foliage as well as lovely flowers, and the “plum pudding” variety has eye-catching deep purple leaves with small red or white flowers. Heuchera is perennial in USDA hardiness zones 4a to 9a, but it does best in containers because it prefers moist soil.
- Hosta. The hosta has large, rounded leaves with points on the ends, and lovely bell-shaped purple blooms that hang from tall stalks. Hostas grow to a height of 18 to 20 inches, and bloom in the late summer to early fall, so this is a good time to buy hostas.
Savor the shade!
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