Perennials for Shade

shadegarden_pcojenPerennials are a wonderful way to add color to your garden without having to replant each year. Listed below are hardy bloomers that prefer a shady location. Many of these can also be grown in morning sun or dappled light, but avoid hot afternoon sun unless noted.  Tip:  Flowers and foliage with white, silver, or light colors really brighten up a shady spot. Perennial flowers typically bloom most during one particular season but may overlap into another season. For instance, a late spring blooming perennial may continue on into summer. If you want color throughout the growing season, be sure to plant spring, summer, and fall blooming perennials, or supplement your plantings with annual flowers.  Perennials for shade are listed below by the season in which they typically BEGIN blooming.  Note: Perennial groundcovers for shade are in the 'groundcovers' section). Click here for a listing of ALL types of perennials by bloom time.

 Spring Bloomers (For Shade)

Summer Bloomers (For Shade)

Please Note:  Availability of specific varieties listed below will vary depending upon time of season and sales.  Please call (719) 574-8058 for current availability.



Perennials for Shade--SPRING BLOOMERS

Bleeding Heart --Old Fashioned Types (Dicentra spectabilis)

dicentraofbleedingheart_pcojendicentra_alba_pcojenHeight: 3'

Spread: 2-3'

Bloom Color: Arching sprays of heart-shaped white or pink flowers

Season of Bloom: Spring

Other Notes: Unique blossoms, hardy, long lived perennial.


Bleeding Heart -- Fern Leaf Type

Fire Island Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc
Luxuriant Photos Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Height: 8"-12"

Spread: 12"-18"

Bloom Color: Pink or Magenta

Season of Bloom: Spring with potential to bloom all season

Other Notes: Compact long-blooming bleeding heart. Fern-like foliage is blue-gray.  Provide consistent moisture for best display.


Fire Island: Magenta Red heart-shaped flowers are tipped white and appear in late spring on this low growing plant.  12"H x 18"W
Luxuriant: Pink heart shaped flowers bloom hardest in Spring with potential for lighter re-bloom in summer and fall.

Columbine (Aquilegia)

Denver Gold Photo Courtesy Plant Select
Rocky Mountain Blue

Height: Dwarf types 12", Medium Height 18"-20", Tall types 36"

Spread: 12"

Bloom Color: Blues, yellows, pinks, reds, purples, whites

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to early summer

Other Notes: Deadhead to prolong bloom. Grow in bright shade at lower elevations. May be planted in full sun at higher elevations where summers remain cool.

Songbird Cardinal

Denver Gold 
Origami Mix
Rocky Mountain Blue
Songbird varieties
Swan Violet & White
Yellow Queen

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

heucherapp_greenspice_limerickey_snowangel_christa_venus_pcojenHeight: 12"-24"

Spread: 12"

Bloom Color: sanguinea has bright red blooms. Hybrids mostly have white, light pink, or maroon flowers. All have flowers on long wands.

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer depending on variety

Other Notes:  Flowers are held above scalloped, low growing foliage. Many, many striking foliage combinations.

Electric Plum
Heureka Royal Flame 
Lime Marmalade 
Primo Black Pearl
Primo Pretty Pistachio
Ruby Bells
Southern Comfort 

Heucherella: Fire Frost  (a cross between heuchera and tiarella)

Electric Plum
Heureka Royal Flame
Lime Marmalade
Primo Black Pearl
Primo Pretty Pistachio

Southern Comfort
Ruby Bells
Heucherella Fire Frost

False Spirea (Astilbe)

astilbe_pcojenHeight: 12"-35"

Spread: 24"-30"

Bloom Color: White, Pink (all shades), Red, Peach

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer

Other Notes: Requires consistent moisture


Japanese Painted Fern
Autumn Fern "Brilliance" Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens I
Autumn Fern "Brilliance" Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Height: 12"-36"

Spread: 12"-36"

Season of Bloom: no—but foliage adds texture to the shady perennial garden

Other Notes: Colorado's semi-arid climate is not ideal for most ferns. However, hardy varieties listed below do well when planted in shade and given consistent moisture.

Ostrich Fern Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium)
Autumn Fern (Dryopteris) 'Brilliance'
Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia)
Tassel Fern (Polystichum)

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica)

Bluesylva Photo Courtesy EPlant Source
Bluesylva Photo Courtesy EPlant Source

Height: 6"-8"

Spread: 6"-8"

Bloom Color: Small, single true blue flowers.

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer

Blue Angel

Heartleaf Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla)

AKA: False Forget Me Not, Siberian Bugloss, or Heartleaf Alkanet
Jack Frost Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

brunnera_macrophylla_wide_pcojenHeight: 12"-18"

Spread: 12"-18"

Bloom Color: Small blue 'forget-me-not' blooms are held in sprays above the leaves

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer

Other Notes: Heart-shaped foliage add interest even when not in bloom.  Light and airy when adorned with blue flowers.  A wonderful plant for a woodland setting.


Jack Frost

Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)

Height: 18"

Spread: 18"

Bloom Color: Yellow blooms held in sprays above the foliage

Season of Bloom: Early Summer

Other Notes: Prefers consistent moisture. Plant in bright shade. Lovely creased leaves catch dew.

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Height: 6"

Spread: 12" but has potential to spread more in a moist shady setting

Bloom Color: Fragrant, small, bell-shaped white flowers

Season of Bloom: Spring

Other Notes: Short and sweet perennial.  Foliage typically dies back during the summer heat.

Lungwort (Pulmonaria)

'Raspberry Splash'

Raspberry Splash Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Height: 12"

Spread: 16"-24"

Bloom Color: Stunning small, raspberry-pink flower clusters

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer

Other Notes: Silvery spotted shimmery leaves

Pig Squeak (Bergenia cordifolia)

Winter Glow Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Height:  8”

Spread:   12”-15”

Bloom Color:  Pink

Season of Bloom:  Spring

Other Notes:  Mostly grown for green thick foliage that turns shades of red in fall.   Leaves are semi-evergreen and hold well into the winter.   Shade to part sun.   May also be grown in sun.  

Cold Weather Leaf Color

Primrose (Primula)

Pacific Hybrids Mix (Zones 4-7)

primrose_pcojenHeight:  8”-12”

Spread:  12”

Bloom Color:  Wide range from red, white, purple, blue to yellow

Season of Bloom:  Spring

Other Notes:  Blooms best during cool weather.  Does best in morning sun.  Prefers organically rich soil and MUST have a consistently moist location.

Viola / Violet (Perennial Viola)
Etain Photo Courtesy Proven Winners
Celestial Starry Nights

Height: 6"-8"

Spread: 8"-10"

Bloom Color: Lavenders, purples, yellows, creams

Season of Bloom: Spring (some varieties will bloom all season)

Other Notes: Most varieties are also fragrant

Blackout Photo Courtesy Ball Horticultural Company


Blackout deep black with yellow center
Celestial Starry Nights lavender/purple yellow center
Etain a soft purple, yellow, cream blend



Perennials for Shade -- SUMMER Bloomers


Bigleaf Ligularia (Ligularia)

Othello Photo Courtesy Ball Horticultural Company
Othello Photo Courtesy Ball Horticultural Company

Bloom Color: Golden yellow blooms

Season of Bloom: Late Summer to Early Fall

Other Notes: Huge scalloped leaves


Othello: 3'-4'H x 2'-3'W, leaves are deep maroon
The Rocket: 3'-5' x 2'-4', green leaves with yellow spike flowers 

Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium)

Lucerne Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Height: 10"

Spread: 15"

Bloom Color: Star-shaped flowers are produced on the end of the 'grass' blade. (lavenders/blues/yellow depending on variety)

Season of Bloom: Summer is strongest bloom period followed by sporadic blooms later in season

Other Notes: Small perennial good for rock garden plantings. Plant in bright shade for best blooms.  (Tradescantia AKA Spiderwort has a similar look but is larger)


Lucerne (green leaves, lavender flowers)

Hosta / Plantain Lily (Hosta)

hosta_wide_pcojenHeight: 6"-36"

Spread: 12"-36"

Bloom Color: Usually white or lavender spikes held above the foliage

Season of Bloom: Summer

Other Notes: Grown primarily for the foliage. Forms lush clumps of lance shaped, or rounded leaves with a wide variety of coloration.

Beyond Glory
Blue Angel

Beyond Glory
Blue Angel
Diamonds are Forever
Shadowland Empress Wu  (huge leaves! one of the biggest hostas known)

Diamonds Are Forever
Shadowland Empress Wu

Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium)

Brise D'Anjou

Height: 18"

Spread: 15" (in bloom)

Bloom Color: Lavender

Season of Bloom: Summer

Other Notes: Fern-like foliage is held low in neat mounds

Brise D'Anjou: variegated creamy yellow/green foliage with lavender-blue flowers
Bressingham Purple: deep purple leaves in cool spring/fall weather, green leaves in summer.  Lavender flowers.

Japanese Anemone - Windflower (Anemone)

Height: 2'-3'

Spread: 2'

Bloom Color:  Pink or white

Season of Bloom:  Late Summer into Fall

Other Notes:  Looking for late season color?  These are cottage
garden favorites.  Grow in well-drained, organic rich soil.  Provide consistent moisture.  (avoid extremes of VERY dry and boggy).  Does best in a bright morning sun or dappled light location.


Pink Kiss: pink flowers
Sylvestris: White flowers

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria)


lychnisrosecampion_pcojenHeight:  28”-36”

Spread:  24”

Bloom Color:  Hot pink or white

Season of Bloom:   Summer—long bloom time

Other Notes:  Will grow in sun, part sun or shade.  Good choice for dry shade.

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