Many perennials thrive in dappled, partial or even full shade, so if you have a shady spot in your garden, you have a range of beautiful plants to choose from.
Before you start planting, decide which type of shade you have in your garden by reading our guide to the different types of shade.
Get inspiration from our choice of 10 unusual shade-loving perennials, below.
Ready to plant? We reveal five top tips for planting in shade.
Discover some unusual perennials for shade.
Anemonella thalictroides f. rosea ‘Oscar Schoaf’
Anemonella thalictroides f. rosea ‘Oscar Schoaf’ bears large, pale mauve double blooms between March and July. Low growing, this pretty perennial reaches just 15cm in height.
This tough, hardy evergreen perennial, Chiastophyllum oppositifolium is commonly known as lamb’s tail. It is low-growing (20cm) with a slow-spreading habit. During early summer, it produces racemes of pretty, pale yellow flowers.
Convallaria majalis ‘Vik Powlowski’s Gold’
Lily of the valley is suitable for a woodland planting. As a variegated variety, Convallaria majalis ‘Vik Powlowski’s Gold’, prefers dappled to deep shade. This perennial gradually spreads, producing delicate white bell-shaped flowers each spring.
Digitalis purpurea ‘Suttons Apricot’
Foxgloves are tall biennial woodland plants that thrive in the dappled shade of trees. They also grow well in full shade, and full sun. The pale apricot-pink flowers of Digitalis ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ are produced throughout June and July are highly beneficial to bees.
Epimedium ‘Pink Champagne’
Epimedium ‘Pink Champagne’ is a low-growing, spreading evergreen perennial that works well as a leafy ground cover throughout the year. The leaves are mottled with purple speckles, and during spring, dainty pink flowers are borne on long, wiry stems. Epimediums are suitable for partial shade.
Hosta undulata var. undulata
A clump-forming hardy perennial, Hosta undulata var. undulata thrives in full, damp shade, and growing to around 15cm. The decorative, bright foliage of this variety is particularly eye catching in a shady border. Small, purple flowers appear above the foliage in early summer.
Mathiasella bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’
Mathiasella bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’ produces attractive pale green cup-shaped bracts in spring, which turn pink through summer. Growing to approximately 1m, it’s useful for adding interest at a height in shade borders.
Mitella breweri is a shade-loving perennial. A member of the saxifrage family, it has dark and glossy, low-growing evergreen foliage. Throughout late spring and early summer, tall, upright stems of tiny pale green flowers are produced, reaching 50cm in height.
Omphalodes nitida has small, blue flowers, similar to brunnera and forget-me-not, produced on delicate stems throughout late spring. Unlike a forget-me-not, it doesn’t suffer with mildew and the flowers last longer. Omphalodes belongs to the borage family and reaches 30cm.
Semiaquilegia ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’
Semiaquilegia ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ has almost translucent purple flowers, produced during early summer. The foliage is blueish-green in colour. Semiaquilegias grow up to around 50cm when in flower, and thrive in part shade.
Thank you to Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants and the Hardy Plant Society for their help in creating this feature.