Colorful Shady Plants


Colorful Shady Plants


Christine Schlueter

These are all for zone 4.


Lungwort or Pulmonaria

This plant blooms in the early spring and has interesting foliage from spring to fall.

The leaves grow in basal rosettes and in some types have silver-whitesplotches. The flowers may be blue or pink. They do well in poor soil and like rich moist garden soil with partial to full shade best. They can be used on sloping ground shaded by trees.


The Columbine Cardinal, ‘Aquilegia Cardinal’, a Columbine in the Songbird series, is a beautiful, easy to grow spring blooming perennial. The green foliage adds texture and color in the fall to any of your perennial beds. The exquisite 3÷ wide petals are long-spurred, large, red and white bicolor. Columbine is a profuse self-seeder so it should be planted 16÷ apart. It is best used in rock gardens or in containers and for beds and borders, in cottage gardens and it attracts butterflies. Enjoy this popular flower in your garden or as a cut flower. It is a definite eye-catcher.


Perennial Geranium is also called Cranesbill because of the shape of the seed pods once the petals have faded. Seed heads snap open like bird beaks to release the seeds.  Most hardy geraniums bloom for months beginning around May and continuing until October or November. If the cup shaped flowers fade in the summer heat trim the plant back and water deeply to encourage repeat blooming.

Geraniums prefer light shade to full sun except in hot humid areas where part shade is best. Well-drained soil is best.


The Monkshood, ‘Aconitum napellus’, is a wonderfully different perennial for your shade garden. Monkshood perform best in shade under trees or on the east or north side of a house. The flowers occur in clusters along tall spikes. Flowers are deep blue to blue and have 1 to 2 inch high hoods. Monkshood takes 2 to 3 years to bloom from seed. They bloom from late summer into early fall. They are used for cut flowers and shade gardens. Note: All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially the roots.


Jacob’s Ladder grows wonderfully in shady areas that get some sun during the day. Requires moist, well drained soil. Does not do well in sunny, hot and dry conditions.

ou can use Jacob’s ladder as a perennial border and it also looks nice in rock gardens. Feel free to cut flowers after blooming to stimulate another round of blooms.  Jacob’s ladder gets its name from the variegated leaves with white that resembles rungs on a ladder. 



Heuchera also known as Coral Bells are available in many colors and prefer moist, well drained soil. The stunning foliage all season long make it s nice plant that survives from full sun to shade.

Remove spent blossoms to encourage continued flower production through summer. 


Annabelle Hydrangea is bush that can grow to five feet. It has large snowball flowers with large green leaves. It prefers moist, well drained soil. Prune it in early spring before new growth emerges. Ideal for mass plantings and cutting gardens. This can handle some shade. 


Bleeding Heart is always a nice shade plant, the only drawback is the blooming period is fairly short. The leaves have a nice shape and texture. 


Bergenia (also called heart-leaved bergenia) is a clump-forming perennial which is primarily grown as a ground cover. Features large rosettes of leathery, glossy, toothed, rounded, dark green leaves (to 10″ long by 8″ wide) which are heart-shaped at the base. Leaves typically form a thick, slowly-spreading clump of foliage to 12″ tall. Foliage turns purplish-bronze in winter. Small dark pink flowers in dense panicles appear within or above the foliage on stout stalks to 16″ tall in April. Leaves are often used in floral arrangements. Also commonly called pig squeak because of the noise produced by rubbing a leaf between thumb and finger.






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