14 Annual Flowers for Shade

Splash some color into your yard’s shady nooks with these annuals.
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©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)

Meet the classic go-to shade annual—impatiens. This bloomer stages a spectacular show in part to full shade. Look for flowers in a rainbow of shades, including bicolors and swirls. For low-maintenance beauty in shady spots, it’s tough to beat this long-time favorite. Impatiens has been attacked by a severe disease, downy mildew. If your impatiens have succumbed to this disease in the past, avoid replanting impatiens in the same spot. Instead, look through the gallery for other shady color.

Tuberous begonia (Begonia x tuberhybrida)

Set your sights on floral delights with the luscious blooms of tuberous begonias. Flowers can be single or double and often resemble small roses. Use in containers or planting beds. Cascading types make stunning hanging baskets. Look for blossoms in yellow, red, pink, orange and white shades—no blues here. Give plants partial shade; avoid bright sun and high temps. Tuberous begonias flower non-stop in Zones 9 to 11. In other zones, dig tubers and store for winter.

Summer Wave Bouquet Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri ‘Summer Wave Bouquet’)

Try out torenia for bold color. This shade lover traditionally opens purple or pink flowers spotted with yellow, but new hybridizing efforts have introduced almost solid purple and fuchsia flowers, along with an eye-catching yellow and white bloom. ‘Summer Wave’ torenia withstands high heat and humidity and sprawls to cover ground. It’s a great choice for containers or beds. Give plants shade or sun.

‘Mrs. Popple’ Fuchsia (Fuchsia ‘Mrs. Popple’)

Grace your shady areas with the striking colors of fuchsia. ‘Mrs. Popple’ offers classic fuchsia hues: pink and purple. Fuchsias come in a variety of sizes, from small bedding plants to shrubs. This beauty is hardy in Zones 8 to 11. Other fuchsias are root hardy to Zones 7 or 8, dying to the ground each winter and sprouting in spring. Fuchsias typically like light shade and thrive in bright, indirect light.

‘Dragon Wing’ Begonia (Begonia ‘Dragon Wing’)

Large oval leaves earn ‘Dragon Wing’ its name. Tall arching stems give this plant a fountainous look that’s perfect in a container. In planting beds, ‘Dragon Wing’ begonia forms a dense mound 15 to 18 inches tall and wide.  Look for flowers in pink or red. Give plants deep shade to light sun.

Snowstorm ‘Blue Bubbles’ Bacopa (Sutera hybrid)

Bacopa is most familiar as opening white flowers, but hybrids offer pink and lavender blooms. ‘Blue Bubbles’ sparkles with double blue-purple flowers. Give bacopa light shade to full sun. The trick to non-stop flowers is avoiding drought stress. Just don’t overwater as you aim for that goal. Instead, plant bacopa with something that wilts easily when dry, like coleus. When the coleus wilts, it’s time to water.

New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri)

This cousin to common impatiens is native to New Guinea. Plants are happiest with a splash of morning sun followed by afternoon shade. They can also take a full day of part to full shade. Keep soil consistently moist and load it up with organic matter for the best flower show. Look for blooms in a host of colors. You get to choose from different leaf colors, too. Use New Guineas in pots or beds.

Diamond Frost Euphorbia (Euphorbia ‘Inneuphdia’)

Diamond Frost forms a blizzard in the garden or pot, blooming non-stop from planting until hard frost. This euphorbia is typically listed for sunny spots, where it thrives. It also does well in part shade. Try it in deeper shade and see how it works for you. The flower show may diminish, but that would still be a strong display, considering the volume of blooms this annual forms.

Bush Violet (Browallia speciosa)

White centers sparkle in the purple blossoms of bush violet. This annual is native to tropical South America. In your garden, tuck bush violet into pots or use it in beds. It thrives in part shade or woodland gardens beneath the high shade of trees. Provide soil rich in organic matter. In containers, use a commercial bagged soilless mix.

Rockapulco Dark Orange Double Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana 'Balfiedeor')

Rock your garden with the rose-like flowers of double impatiens. These pretty bloomers open flowers all season long—and never need deadheading. Choose double impatiens for areas offering part to full shade. Look for blooms in a variety of colors, including white, red, pink and purple tones.

Wax Begonia (Begonia semperflorens-cultorum)

Count on wax begonia for non-stop flowers from spring to fall frost. Short varieties grow 6 to 12 inches high; taller types top out at 18 inches. Choose from blooms in red, pink, white or orange hues. Leaf color varies from bright green, to burgundy, to bronze. Give plants a spot in light to deep shade. They also thrive in sun. Use wax begonia in pots or planting beds.

‘Molten Lava’ Oxalis (Oxalis vulcanicola)

Oxalis is known to many as an invasive weed. Discover the prettier, docile side of the oxalis family. ‘Molten Lava’ offers eye-catching leaves and won’t take over your garden. Plant in part shade to full sun. Leaf color is chartreuse in shade and shifts to orange in sun. Protect from hot afternoon sun in warmest regions.

Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)

Count on lobelia for cascades of dazzling blue, pink, red or white flowers. Plants are on the short side, reaching maybe 6 to 8 inches tall.  They trail up to 24 inches, so this is a great ground cover or spiller plant in a container. Tuck lobelia into part shade to full sun for the best flower show.

Bolivian Begonia (Begonia boliviensis ‘Mandalay Mandarin’)

Bolivian begonias are breathtaking in full bloom—and bloom is what these beauties do. Once summer heat arrives, the flower show is non-stop. Look for varieties that open blossoms in shades of pink, orange, red or white. Flowers dangle like bells and cover stems from top to bottom. Plants are hardy in Zones 7b to 11. Use them in containers in northern zones, and overwinter the potted tuber indoors, withholding water until sprouts appear in spring.