Closing early at 4pm on Thursday, 8/8 for our annual Staff Appreciation Dinner. Thanks for understanding

A photography of Phelan Gardens greenhouse and storefront in Colorado Springs Colorado

Perennials For Shade

Perennials 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.

** Please Note:  Availability of specific varieties listed below will vary depending upon time of season and sales. Please visit us to view current varieties. **


Spring Bloomers - Perennials For Shade

Bleeding Heart --Old Fashioned Types (Dicentra spectabilis)

Height: 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

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.

Pink heart shaped flowers bloom hardest in Spring with potential for lighter re-bloom in summer and fall.

Columbine (Aquilegia)

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.

Denver Gold

Rocky Mountain Blue
Origami Series
...and other assorted varieties

Denver Gold Photo Courtesy Plant Select

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Height: 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.

Varieties will vary during the season...but we offer a wide range of colors from deep maroon to lime green to amber tones similar to those pictured.

False Spirea (Astilbe)

Height: 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


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 Varieties:
Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium)
Autumn Fern (Dryopteris) 'Brilliance'
Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia)

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis)

Height: 6"-8"

Spread: 6"-8"

Bloom Color: Small, single true blue flowers.

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer

Heartleaf Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla)

AKA: False Forget Me Not, Siberian Bugloss, or Heartleaf Alkanet

Height: 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

Silver Heart

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)

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)

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)

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.

Viola / Violet (Perennial Viola)

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


Etain a soft purple, yellow, cream blend



Summer Bloomers - Perennials For Shade


Bigleaf Ligularia / Ragwort (Ligularia)

Bloom Color: Golden yellow blooms

Season of Bloom: Late Summer to Early Fall

Other Notes: Huge scalloped leaves


The Rocket: black stems with yellow flowers. up to 5' high  x up to 3' wide

Hosta / Plantain Lily (Hosta)

Height: 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.

Varieties Will Vary throughout season -- Pictures offer a representation of colors offered:
Blue Angel
Rainforest Sunrise
Wide Brim

Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium)

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

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.

Sylvestris: White flowers

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria)

Height:  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.

Map of Colorado Springs with Phelan Gardens location marked

Visit Our Central Colorado Springs Location

We are open all year round and always offer the seasons most popular varieties for gardeners and plant lovers alike!

Phelan Gardens
4955 Austin Bluffs Parkway.
Colorado Springs, CO, 80918

(719) 574-8058

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A photograph of various signs that point to sections of Phelan Gardens such as Perennials, Vines, Grasses and more
Phelan Gardens Perennials section of their store