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9 Colorful Flowers That Grow in Shade

Love flowers but think your garden doesn't get enough sun? These shade flowers grow happily even without a lot of direct sunlight.

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Shade garden plant combinationGiedra Bartas/Shutterstock

Why shade gardening?

Often times those shady spots in your garden are neglected, unnoticed, or even cause anger by homeowners, looking to plant their favorite flowers that just won’t grow without plenty of sunshine. But there’s no reason to cut down your beautiful maple tree, or completely pave in that section of your yard that’s shaded by your house the entire day. Veteran garden editor and designer Luke Miller says that he sometimes prefers shade gardening to sunny spaces. “Shade gardening is overlooked by many homeowners, sometimes even by avid gardeners. Let’s face it, there are many more opportunities for colorful flowers in a sun-loving garden. But here’s the rub: shade gardens can be quite attractive themselves. And they almost always take less maintenance, watering and fertilizing than sunny gardens. Most people would say that’s a good thing.” Make sure you have these must-have gardening tools when you start planting.

Lily flowers with water drops on leaves after the rain Tatiana Kochkina/Shutterstock

Lily of the Valley

Shade flowers like these tiny white petals will even better without too much sun. The lily of the valley flowers emit an enchanting fragrance in late spring and early summer and will brighten up those shady dark corners of your yard. “Lily of the valley is a perfume factory,” Miller adds. “Not to mention the bell-shaped flowers are adorable.” If you’re just starting out, check out these expert gardening tips for beginners.

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Macro of blue flowers with nice blurred backgroundNERYXCOM/Shutterstock

Alpine Forget-Me-Not

Add clouds of color to your garden with a patch of tiny azure-blue flowers. They thrive in dry shade, conditions that can be particularly difficult. Try some drought-tolerant plants as well for some more flowers that can handle harsh conditions.

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Polemonium caeruleum, known as Jacob's-ladder or Greek valerian close-upAnatoliy Berislavskiy/Shutterstock

Jacob’s Ladder

These bell-shaped, purple perennials adapt well to flower gardens and tolerate both shade and sun. Miller also advises filling in space around your shade flowers. “I highly recommend mulching with shredded leaves to copy what happens in nature. The Shredded leaves will quickly become humus, which is like forest duff that nourishes plants and protects the soil. It also adds a lot of microbes, which are beneficial to plant roots.” See what the best time is during the day to water your plants.

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White classy solomon's seal flowertunesan/Shutterstock

Solomon’s Seal

Gracefully arching stems support clusters of tubular white flowers and long, bright green leaves. A perfect plant for a shady border. Knowing how much sun and shade a plant need is important to its growth and success, just like these 29 secrets your houseplants would tell you if you could.

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anemone blanda blueB_K_Design/Shutterstock

Anemone Blanda Blue

Also known as the winter windflower, Anemone Blanda Blue thrives in partial shade. Its purply-blue, daisy-like flowers will add a festive touch to your patch. Don’t miss these inexpensive plants that will make your garden pop with color.

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Pulmonaria Flowers lungwort medicinal plant Volovchuk Oleksandr/Shutterstock


These are good groundcover plants for deep shade, with hairy, dark green leaves spotted with white. In early spring, clusters of funnel-shaped flowers open pink and then turn blue. Check out these 26 things your florist won’t tell you.

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A bunch of blue violetsNatalia Ganelin/Shutterstock


Viola is a huge genus of flowering plants including some 400 to 500 species. Leaves of these species are usually heart-shaped and scalloped-shaped, while the five-petaled flowers come in scores of colors. Instead of buying new tools, see which household items you already own that can be repurposed in the garden.

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Cowslip Primrose

Who needs sunshine when you have a carpet of yellow or red flowers with crinkled bright-green foliage? Shade flowers like this bring plenty of brightness to any garden, even without direct sunlight. Check out these best-smelling flowers for a garden that both looks and smells lovely.

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Blooming Begonia tuberhybrida close upAsetta/Shutterstock

Tuberous Begonias

These flowers are popular for their variety, coming in red, orange, yellow, white, salmon, or pink blooms. Tuberous begonias blossom throughout the summer, thriving in shady spots where few other plants with long bloom periods and showy flowers can grow. Miller adds, “The amount of shade will determine just what you can plant. A tuberous begonia will grow in dappled shade, but not heavy shade. That kind of work is for ferns.” Keep these 13 things your landscaper won’t tell you in mind when you’re picking which of these gorgeous plants to put in your yard.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest