It’s important to consider several important points about growing shade perennials.
First is that while some perennial flowers may survive in the shade, they will not thrive in dry shade. Note the difference between surviving and thriving. If you reduce the amount of water they need (or trees get all the water) you’ll increase stress on the plant. This, in turn reduces flowering and adds stress to the plant so you may lose plants over the winter.
I’ve said this to many gardeners. You have to ensure your shade perennial flowers have all the water they need and this may mean watering more often than you’d think.
One of the first symptoms of not-enough water is a reduced blooming, shorter bloom time and slow growth (not to mention this stress will increase your winter losses.)
Actaea rubra or baneberry is a classy shade-loving perennial flower that deserves to be hunted down and used for the great foliage and magical blooms. (Yeah, I love this plant)
Aegopodium or Goutweed (Bishops Weed) is a certified thug in the garden and it should only be planted as a last resort where nothing else will grow.
Ajuga is a spreading (thug!) of a plant but this makes it an excellent perennial ground cover for tough shady spots. And there are some fantastic leaf colors now so do check this one out
Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle) is a chartreuse-coloured flower with amazing foliage that sparkles when filled with morning dew.
Aruncus or Goatsbeard resembles an Astilbe on steroids. It’s a marvellous white blooming plant.
Astilbe is one of the better shade garden perennials as it’s tough enough to handle almost any garden. Understand if you give it excellent growing conditions, it’s going to grow quite quickly.
Asarum is a shiny leaved plant for shade and it makes a great (slow establishing) ground cover
Athryium (Japanese painted fern) This fern is one of the lovely small ferns with different colours in the leaf. Check out the pictures here and start searching for this gem of a plant.
Bergenia is one of the earliest of spring blooming perennials (evergreen foliage in warmer areas) to grace my garden. Love the newer hybrids and I’ve got some pics of those for you here.
Brunnera macrophylla (Siberian Bugloss) is a wonderful spring blooming (blue forget me not flowers) and is one of my favorites. Do read the note about dividing this plant though as it can be somewhat picky about how this is done.
Caltha palustris or Marsh Marigold (sun or shade)
Corydalis lutea is the longest blooming perennial in my garden and the bonus is it prefers shade. How cool is that!
Dicentra or Bleeding Heart is one of the great shade garden perennials – either the old-fashioned bleeding heart or the newer (longer-blooming) short hybrids make a great color choice in your shade garden.
Epimedium is a tremendous groundcover for that shade garden where few other plants will thrive (yes, you do have to water it).
Ferns and how to grow them in the shade garden. Along with a brief description of the best garden worthy species and some pictures of new hybrids
Heuchera or Coralbells is a must grow plant for the part shade garden. Avoid the mid-day sun with this one and do fall in love with the range of leaf colors in the pictures here.
Heucherella is a cross between Heuchera and Tiarella – and makes a great shade garden plant. Check out the pics of the modern hybrids and tell me you don’t want one.
Helleborus or Christmas rose is one of the earliest and longest blooming perennial flowers for the shade garden. A tremendous plant and one of my all-time favorites. The new varieties are stunning in their color range and worth every penny you’ll pay for them.
Hepatica with its early spring blooms is one of my favorite shade garden perennials because of its early blooms (one of the earliest to bloom in my garden).
Hosta are the undisputed queens of the shade garden with thousands of varieties available for almost any shade garden setting or design.
Lamium or deadnettle will survive in shade or sun but do not appreciate a full hot-sun garden with a lack of water. Excellent groundcover.
Lunaria or money plant is an excellent shade plant but do understand this can turn into a weed if you don’t pick the seedpods.
Primula is one of the classic shade garden perennials and is relatively easy to grow. Note many of the Primula sold in garden centers are really only biennials and if they’re in bloom when you buy them, they won’t bloom again.
Hosta – everything you need to know to succeed with this plant in shade or sun.
Polemonium is an excellent shade garden perennial – it will “melt” away if it’s unhappy (too much sun or not the right amount of water or sometimes for no good reason other than not liking the gardener’s cat. (That’s a joke – everybody likes your cat!)
Polygonatum or Solomon’s seal is a lovely spring bloomer and if you get the variegated variety, it adds a season-long interest.
Pulmonaria and how to grow this gorgeous spring blooming knockout
Symphytum or Ornamental Comfrey
Trollius is a part shade, damp soil plant. Don’t let this one dry out
Tricrytis is a lovely little plant for shade gardens but it does bloom very late in the season so may be a problem in colder shorter-season gardens.