Annual Shade Plants

Annual Shade Plants

Table of Contents

Does your garden miss the heat of the sun and live perpetually in shade? Are there sheltered alcoves of your outdoor space that rarely receive any light but in which you wish to have a thriving flower bed of luscious blooms?

Mistakenly, we assume that shaded gardens are too dark and cold for pretty flowers to survive and so must be left bare or filled in with foliage that can tolerate shade. In fact, there are so many flowering plants which require less sunlight and actually thrive in shade.

Annuals in particular are often the best flowers for shade, offering a bright and season-long burst of color and vibrancy into an otherwise overlooked corner. Not only do they bloom all summer long - unlike perennials whose flowering tends to be more fleeting and unreliable - but they typically offer a vast array of sizes, colors, and shapes. All of these provide an immediate dopamine hit that, come the following season you can reinvent again for a constant floral adventure. This is why using annual shade flowers in the sheltered parts of your garden is a great option. 

So, now that we have convinced you that you should consider annual flowering plants for shade areas of your garden, here’s our top recommendations. Read on for six of the best annuals that grow in shade.

Begonias

Begonias, in all their many varieties, are wonderful flowering plants for shade. Low-maintenance and colorful, these bright blossoms bloom continuously until a hard frost, offering a shaded area an instant pop of color, from vivid orange to the most delicate pink. 

Read about the best winter flowers to survive frost here.

These are a particularly good option for your shade garden if you are short on time as they don’t need to be deadheaded in order to keep flowering.

There are lots of different begonias to choose from that thrive in shade. The Dragon Wing Begonia, for example, can grow up to 18 inches tall in shade to partial shade areas providing delightful red or pink flowers all summer long. This flower in particular is a great addition to hanging baskets and shade containers. 

Calendula

There are many benefits to adding calendula officinalis to any shade areas around your home. It makes a wonderful companion plant for your vegetables, attracting pollinators with its bright blooms and repelling unwanted pests. With healing properties as a herbal remedy and lighting up the home as a cut flower, calendula has as many benefits indoors as it does in the shaded outdoors. 

Perhaps the best thing about these mostly shade flowers is that they are one of the most colorful annuals. Their vivid golden flowers are guaranteed to lift any shaded spot out of the gloom and transform it into a sunny oasis. 

Or, bring some of that joy indoors, by choosing a houseplant from Plants.com. 

Torenia

Sometimes known as wishbone flowers, torenia fournieri are other annuals that do well in shade. Quite similar to snapdragons in appearance, these blue, white, purple, or pink annuals are a delightful trailing flower that grow from 6 to 12 inches tall. Another annual that requires no deadheading, they make a pretty addition to window boxes or containers where they can trail beautifully over the sides. 

The best thing about these shade-loving blossoms is that they also attract hummingbirds!

Bromeliads

One of the most eye-catching tropical plants, bromeliads are the perfect shrub to bring drama and vigor to the shade parts of your backyard. While bromeliads do offer stunning pink flowers - that can grow 2.5 meters in height! - it’s often the enormous, swordlike leaves of this shrub that is most arresting and captivating. 

Another low-maintenance option, bromeliads can tolerate shade once they’re feet don’t get too wet so be sure not to overwater them. Learn more about low-maintenance tropical plants here.

Caladium

Often we consider foliage in shade areas as lack-luster and monotonous - an endless wall of green. This couldn’t be further from the truth if choosing a shade-hungry plant like caladium. With heart-shaped leaves that thrive in full shade, caladium offers foliage in colors as daring as pink and red hues, which beautifully contrast with other shade annuals like calendula and blue torenia varieties. 

This beautiful shrub amalgamates vibrant color with the fullness of foliage - a perfect fusion for shade plots in your backyard.

Impatiens

One of the best annual flowers for shade are impatiens so it is little wonder they are popular among gardens looking to populate shaded areas with bright and easily-maintained plants. Thriving in full shade areas, impatiens come in all colors and varieties offering an endless array of shade options year after year.

One thing to note about impatiens is that some varieties have fallen victim to powdery mildew after the past few years. Due to this, it’s best to choose varieties like New Guinea as they are more disease-resistant and impervious to the powdery mildew epidemic impatiens have succumbed to in recent years. Otherwise, enjoy the friendly and cheerful beauty of these shade-loving delights!

As you can see, the shade parts of your back garden don’t need to suffer in neglect any longer! Nor do they need to be jealous of the blooms flourishing in full sun. There are so many annuals that will embrace the shade and offer your sheltered window boxes, hanging baskets, or covered plots the brightest flowers all summer long.


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