10 Shade-Tolerant Flowering Plants

Bright red, crown-like flowers stand amid green foliage

rockerBOO / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

When planning a garden, it’s important to keep in mind which areas receive full exposure to sunlight and which areas get varying degrees of shade. Certain ground covers, like the fragrant sweet woodruff, prefer full shade, whereas showy begonias like a mix of sun and shade.

Here are 10 shade-tolerant flowering plants to consider for your garden.

Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

1
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Gooseneck Loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides)

Gooseneck loosestrife

Treehugger / Bonnie Alter

This gorgeous flower grows well in the shade alongside structures like fences or sheds and prefers moist soils like those found near ponds or streams. A stunning perennial, the gooseneck loosestrife showcases an elegant stem between two and three feet tall with clusters of small, white flowers a half-inch wide.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade.
  • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, and humusy.
2
of 10

Spotted Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum ‘Cosmopolitan’)

Spotted deadnettle

Treehugger / Bonnie Alter

Often used for ground cover in shady spots, spotted deadnettle spreads via stems that root themselves as they seek available space. Small flowers of reddish-purple, white, or pink flowers form on this perennial in the late spring. Spotted deadnettle is also used in containers or as hanging plants.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade.
  • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, acidic loams with good drainage.
3
of 10

Scarlet Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

Bee balm

Treehugger / Bonnie Alter

Scarlet bee balm, also known as Oswego tea or bergamot, is a bright red, perennial flower that prefers full sunlight but can tolerate some occasional shade. Humans aren’t the only ones attracted to this stunning beauty. As the name suggests, bees love this flower, along with other garden favorites, butterflies and hummingbirds.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade.
  • Soil Needs: Rich, humusy, and moisture-retentive soil.
4
of 10

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Sweet woodruff

Treehugger / Bonne Alter

The commonly called sweet woodruff is an aromatic, perennial ground cover that grows well in shady areas and displays a tiny, white flower with four petals. A fast spreader if in the right conditions, sweet woodruff can be tamed with a lawnmower, which will increase the intensity of its pleasing aroma. Sweet woodruff is occasionally used in the making of May wine.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade.
  • Soil Needs: Average, medium to wet, and well-drained.
5
of 10

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)

Solomon's seal

Treehugger / Bonnie Alter

The sweetly fragrant Solomon’s seal does best in shady regions with intermittent sunlight. Small, pale green, tubular flowers hang from the leaves in late spring and give off a scent similar to that of lilies. Be wary of weevils, snails, and slugs, as they are fond of this backyard perennial.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade.
  • Soil Needs: Moist, humusy, organically rich, and well-drained.
6
of 10

Hybrid Tuberous Begonias (Begonia)

Begonias

Treehugger / Bonnie Alter

A summer-to-fall bloomer, hybrid tuberous begonias prefer a combination of sun and shade, but never too much of either. The waxy flowers are found in a variety of colors — from orange and pink to white, yellow, and red. While at home outside in the garden, these attractive annuals can also make lovely houseplants.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade.
  • Soil Needs: Rich, organic, and well-drained.
7
of 10

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

A cluster of white-petaled hydrangeas

Wendy Cutler / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The beautiful, white flowering oakleaf hydrangea can grow quite happily in partial shade. In the United States, it is commonly found growing among ravines and stream banks in the southern region. The oakleaf hydrangea is frequently used as a hedge near homes and patios.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade.
  • Soil Needs: Organically rich.
8
of 10

Chinese Ground Orchid (Bletilla striata)

Small, purple flowers clustered amid a grassy background

Takashi Hososhima / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

For the Chinese ground orchid, shade is essential for good health. The light pink flowers of this gorgeous orchid grow to be one and a half inches long on top of 18 inch high stems. Chinese ground orchids prefer moist, well-drained soils and, for this reason, make for good container plants.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade.
  • Soil Needs: Organically rich.
9
of 10

Monkshood (Aconitum napellus)

Blueish-purple flowers interspersed among green leaves in front of a brick wall

Leonora (Ellie) Enking / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

This flowering perennial likes a bit of afternoon shade in the summers and prefers well-drained, organically rich soils. A portion of its flower takes on the shape of a medieval helmet, thus earning it the common name of monkshood. Be careful to keep this plant out of reach of children and pets, as it is poisonous.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade.
  • Soil Needs: Moist, organically rich, and well-drained.
10
of 10

Lenten Rose (Heleborus orientalis)

Lavender flowers surrounded by groupings of green leaves.

Sönke Haas / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

A late winter-blooming perennial, lenten rose grows best in shady areas that are well protected from cold, winter gusts of wind. Often seen as a harbinger of spring, these pink and purple-petaled beauties bloom in late February and early March. Promote new growth by trimming back flowering stems after they bloom.

Plant Care Tips

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade.
  • Soil Needs: Humusy, organically rich, and well-drained.