7 Out of the Ordinary Shade Perennials

I have a good deal of shade on my property. My home was built in the mid-eighties so much of the original landscaping is mature, including the trees which offer quite a bit of shade. This is great for our electric bill in the summer but not so great for someone who wants to grow sun-loving flowers and vegetables.

That being said I have found many great plants that work well in the shade. Here are seven shade perennials which are not the run-of-the-mill plants, which just might work for your shady areas.

Learn about 7 easy to grow shade perennials, a little out of the norm that you will definitely want to add to this years wish list for the garden.


Pulmonaria aka Lungwort
Lungwort is a perennial that comes up early in the spring. I love the blue flowers. Check out my article on lungwort from last year to learn more about its name and habits.

lungwort in flower ~gardenmatter.com

Lungwart foliage ~gardenmatter.com

 Solomon’s Seal
I have this beauty in two spots. The first one is located is heavy shade, under a dogwood tree, next to a pine. The other is close to our foundation in the back of the house. They both perform well, and last throughout the season with dainty flowers in the spring.

Variegated Solomon's Seal flowers ~gardenmatter.com

solomon seal foliage ~ gardenmatter.com

Brunnera aka False Forget Me Knot
This can be invasive but I haven’t found it to be an issue for me. I really love the blue flowers and the nice mounding habit that fills a space nicely in the garden.

Brunnera flowers ~ gardenmatter.com

Brunner foliage~gardenmatter.com

This is a variety with very dark leaves which I like, and sometimes use in flower arrangements. It blooms in late summer when many of my other plants are fading, with bright golden flowers.

Ligularia Flowers ~gardenmatter.com

Ligularia foliage ~gardenmatter.com

Lamium aka Dead Nettle
This is a ground cover that seems to grow anywhere. The gold flowered one was here when we bought the house. The second one I often buy for containers as it trails nicely and will bloom on my shady front porch.

Dead Nettle flower ~ gardenmatter.com

Lamium Orchid Frost ~ gardenmatter.com

Epimedium aka Bishop’s Hat
This sweet perennial has pretty red rimmed heart-shaped leaves and cool yellow flowers early in the spring that are supposedly shaped like a bishop’s hat.

Epemedium flowers~gardenmatter.com

Epimedium foliage ~ gardenmatter.com

Japanese Painted Fern
This last one is more well-known but great for the shade. In fact, the Japanese painted fern was named Perennial Plant of the Year in 2004 . It grows well even among the roots of our huge red maple. You can see it here enjoying the tight space with  sweet woodruff.

Japanese Painted Fern ~gardenmatter.com

I hope you enjoyed this shady parade and that I helped you find a few new perennials to add to your shopping list.


About Patti Estep

Patti is the creator of Hearth and Vine, a home and garden blog filled with projects to inspire your creative side. She loves crafting, gardening, decorating and entertaining at her home in Pennsylvania. When she is not working on a project at home or searching for treasures at nurseries and thrift stores with her girlfriends, you’ll probably find her with family and friends, at a restaurant, or home party enjoying new and different food adventures.

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  1. Great color pallet. We have a similar problem with our front, it’s north facing so also really cool Thanks for the tips will take your advice.

  2. I too have shady areas in my yard but still want pretty plants there (especially one’s that bloom). I’ll keep the plants you highlighted in mind. There are way more plants that do well in the shade other than hostas! I have a plant in my shady section that I love! A few years ago I purchased a few trilliums. They are pretty and remind me of walks in the forest. Please note that in most areas it may be illegal to transplant these from the wild. Make sure you purchase nursery grown! They seem to sell out fast though. If you see them in a catalog, grab them!

    • Thanks Susan,

      Trillium grow here in woods all over in PA and are very pretty. I think you are right about them being illegal as least here. I have never seen them sold in local nurseries. Have a great time in London. I’m looking forward to hearing about your trip. My sister lived in Manchester for a short while and when we visited we made it down to London for two days. Not long enough. 🙂

  3. I live in Hamilton, Ontario and in this province, it is legal to take Trillium (our provincial flower) from the wild, as long as you dig up the root and all. Other than that, we find them at botanical gardens annual sales – in white, soft lavender, deep purple and deep yellow. I’ve never found them at nurseries.

    • Hi Janet,

      I’d say I’m making a trip to Ontario but I don’t know if I’d get those beauties past customs. 😉
      Thanks for stopping by,

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