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Our Top 10 Plants that Thrive in the Shade

While we all love the beautiful blooms of marigolds and sunflowers, these sun-loving flowers aren’t always practical for a shady backyard garden. But don’t fret; you can still enjoy a rich, colorful garden without worrying about getting enough sun.

These ten plants thrive in shady environments, whether you’re looking for something a bold annual flower for this year or a hardy perennial to keep your garden fresh each spring. 

Impatiens (annual)

These vibrant annual flowers will make even the shadiest corner of your garden feel bright. Impatiens are fairly laid back, and will grow just as beautifully as a houseplant as they do in a rich open garden bed.

Just make sure to provide plenty of water, especially in the summer heat: impatiens can need up to 4 inches of water per week. Depending on the variety, these blossoms can range from a gentle pastel pink to rich, sunset hues. Swing by Stockslagers Greenhouse and Garden Center to choose from a wide variety of impatiens.

Hosta (perennial)

Hostas are a reliable perennial plant that can add some much needed rich foliage to any garden. These plants are low maintenance and can live for many years in a nice shady area. Looking to liven up your garden this season? Hostas’ delicate summer flowers are a favorite for hummingbirds. Just keep an eye out for deer, who might want to make a quick snack out of your hosta plant. Our hostas are currently in stock and ready to be added to your garden.

Bigroot geranium, AKA cranesbill geranium (perennial)

Geranium is a hardy addition to any garden, holding up well year after year and producing long-lasting blooms each summer. Ohio soil makes a particularly nurturing home for cranesbill geranium, which can thrive in anything from a bright sun patch to a cool, dark shady spot. Add some geranium to your garden this year for some easy, worry-free ground cover!

Bleeding heart (perennial)

These unusual flowers are sure to add flair to any garden. Bleeding hearts show off their dramatic blossoms each spring, before disappearing in the heat of summer.

As an herbaceous perennial, bleeding hearts make a great investment to ensure a fresh pop of color that comes back every year. Bleeding hearts are currently in stock at Stockslagers, so be sure to pick up some in time to plant this fall

Astilbe (perennial)

The long, soft blooms of astilbe make an elegant contrast to the foliage more typical in a shady garden. Some astilbe can reach up to several feet in height, so be sure to leave these flowers plenty of room to grow. With proper care, your garden could be showing off these fluffy petals all through summer! Already coming in to grab some hostas? Add astilbe for a beautiful perennial pairing.

Lily of the valley (perennial)

Lily of the valley are very hardy in our area, and you might spend the next 5 years giving your extras to neighbors, since they spread! But the tiny delicate bells of a lily of the valley plant are a beautiful, fragrant addition to any garden. Despite their delicate appearance, the lily of the valley requires fairly simple care; some moist soil and partial shade will ensure these tiny blossoms come back strong each year.

While Stockslagers is out of lily of the valley for 2021, be sure to check back next year as you plan your future summer blooms.

Begonias (annual)

Begonias are non-fussy flowers that thrive in the sun or shade.

Begonias are a flexible annual flower, thriving as a tame houseplant or flourishing in a garden bed. If you’re looking for a smaller variety, wax begonias are perfect for a planter or window box.

Tuberous begonias make for a showier pop of color, standing up to 3 feet tall when planted outdoors, and do well in partial shade. Not sure which variety will suit your needs? Come by our garden center to find your perfect begonia. 

Hydrangeas (perennial)

Hydrangeas are a classic flower that never cease to amaze. Got an awkward shady patch you’ve been looking to fill? These large puffy blossoms thrive under the cover of shade, growing quickly to fill any space they’re planted in. Be sure to not box them in too much; healthy hydrangeas can reach up to 15 feet in height! Come by our garden center to add this centerpiece shrub to your yard. 

Azaleas (perennial)

Azaleas are an absolute staple. These low-maintenance shrubs do best in lightly-shaded areas, and produce fun large blossoms each spring. If you’re looking for a simple spruce of color, pick up an azalea shrub and watch the dull shady edges of your garden come to life. 

Rhododendrons (perennial)

Rhododendrons, azalea’s close cousin, are a favorite for a reason: their eye-catching clusters of rich purple are anything but ordinary. These perennial bushes require a bit of soil preparation, but their breathtaking blooms are certainly worth the work. Though our garden center is out of rhododendrons for 2021, be sure to start preparing your shady spot this fall, and come by next spring to select your perfect bush. 

Some Honorable Mentions…

While these ten shade-loving plants are our absolute favorites, we couldn’t leave off without a few honorable mentions. If you already have all of the hydrangeas, geranium and azaleas you can stand, try adding one of these next three plants to fill out the shady corners of your garden.

Sun king aralia (perennial)

Sun king aralias may not flower, but their leaves are certainly vibrant enough to make you look twice. Their striking chartreuse foliage grows best in partial shade, and re-emerges each spring as a hardy perennial. If you’re looking to offset an endless sea of purple and pink blossoms, try adding some sun king aralias for a unique change of scenery. 

Lungwort (perennial)

Lungwort may not sound like the prettiest plant on the block, but its dainty blue and pink blossoms could just change your mind. These tiny flowers are surrounded by speckled foliage, and thrive in moist, shady areas. Lungworts are fairly low-maintenance perennials, and can even spread quickly to fill out any empty garden patches.

Lobelia (annual)

If you find your garden lacking color past the usual spring blossoms, you may be in need of some lobelia plants. This gorgeous annual herb produces rich purple flowers all the way from the warm days of summer to the first freeze of the year. Aside from some extra water on hot days, lobelia plants require little care and do well in both sun and partial shade.

With so many options, your garden wishlist might be running out of room. Pick your favorite bright blossom and fun foliage, and come by Stockslager’s Greenhouse and Garden Center to start crossing things off. Enjoy keeping cool in the shade this summer alongside your newest garden additions!

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