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Perennial Flowers for Shade

Turn up the color in shade gardens with low-maintenance perennial bloomers.

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Photo: Image courtesy of Longfield Gardens

Astilbe (Astilbe hybrids)

The feathery plumes of astilbe hybrids weave textural color into shade plantings. Look for varieties that unfurl flowers in red, pink, white or lavender. Astilbe blooms in summer. By planting a mix of early-, mid- and late-flowering types, you can savor season-long color. Plants are deer-resistant. Mass them for an easy-care groundcover. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

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Photo: Image courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.

Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta ‘Miyazaki')

Spotted orchid-like blooms appear late summer to early fall. Tuck toad lily into part to full shade, but reserve it for places you can view the blooms up close. Flowers are small enough that the plants can be lost in a large border. The ‘Miyazaki' hybrids’ don’t spread aggressively like some toad lilies do. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

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Photo: Image provided by Felder Rushing

‘Sweet Kate’ Spiderwort (Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’)

Chartreuse leaves and violet blossoms make a striking pair in part shade. The gold foliage turns on the light in shady gardens. Plants flower from spring to fall frost. Also look for spiderworts that open white or pink blossoms. To keep this low-care perennial in tip-top shape, cut plants back to soil level to encourage fresh growth. Hardy in Zones 3 to 10.

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Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)

Kick off the garden season with the very early flowers of Lenten rose. Rose-like blooms open beneath leathery leaves in late winter and early spring. The evergreen leaves are deer-resistant and provide a deep green presence through winter. Look for hybrids that open flowers in every hue imaginable, including deep purple-black, pale pink and chartreuse. Hardy in zones 4 to 10.

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