Top 10 Annual Flowers That Thrive in the Shade

Brighten dark corners with the flower power of made-for-the-shade annuals.

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Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By:

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By:

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By:

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By:

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Begonia Mistral Yellow Container

Bring on the blooms with Mistral Yellow begonia. This sunny beauty is a type of Begonia boliviensis, which pumps out flowers all summer long. Showcase Mistral Yellow in a hanging basket or tall container. Plants form tubers that overwinter easily in the pot. Slip the pot into a non-freezing, cool, dark location for winter. Barely water once a month. Tubers start sprouting in spring, signaling it’s time to move the plant into bright light.

Hippo Rose Polka-Dot Plant

When leaves are this pretty, flowers aren’t necessary! Hippo Rose polka-dot plant (Hypoestes) delivers outstanding color with contrasting shades of hot pink and deep green. Tuck this beauty into containers or use it to fill a planting bed with can’t-miss color. Pinch plants when young to increase branching. Plants grow 16 to 22 inches tall by 8 to 14 inches wide.

‘Velvet Elvis’ Plectranthus

In garden circles, plectranthus is known as the plant with a funny name that delivers big, strong color. 'Velvet Elvis' is no exception. Leaves offer a fuzzy touch with a deep green top and violet-purple underside. Lavender flowers rise on 4-inch spikes that last easily through summer heat. Use 'Velvet Elvis' in pots or planting beds — pair it with 'Jack Frost' brunnera or 'All Gold' Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold'). Plants grow 28 inches tall and 31 inches wide.

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum is an old-fashioned annual that holds its own in a part shade spot, opening tiny, dainty white blooms with a sweet fragrance. Snow Princess (shown) updates that timeless beauty by giving sweet alyssum an ability to withstand heat and sun. Use Snow Princess in part shade to full sun as a spiller in containers, or count on it as a butterfly-attracting ground cover in beds. Plants grow 4 to 8 inches tall and up to 24 inches wide.

Gryphon Begonia And Impatiens

Unusual hand-shaped leaves with a striking color mix make Gryphon begonia a star for shade gardens. Avocado green leaves have maroon veins and are splashed with silver. Leaf undersides and stems also showcase maroon shades. It’s a natural for containers, easily filling the thriller role. It looks beautiful paired with red and white Super Elfin impatiens (shown). Gryphon does best in part to full shade, growing 18 to 24 inches tall and wide. In Southern zones, protect Gryphon from hot afternoon sun.

Lobelia And Nemesia Hanging Basket

This pretty pair of bloomers bridges the part shade to sun gap with non-stop flowers. Lobelia Sky Blue Erinus opens blossoms in soft blue, offering an eye-catching contrast to Sunsatia Lemon nemesia and its lemon yellow flowers. Both plants tend to stop flowering when night temps stay above 70 F. If this occurs, give plants a light trim to promote fresh, branching growth when temps cool off. Both plants grow 6 to 10 inches tall and spread at least 12 to 16 inches. Choose these bloomers to fill the spiller role in containers or make a handsome hanging basket.

Red And Violet Fuchsia

Fuchsia is a showstopper in part to full shade conditions with its dangling, multi-colored flowers. 'Bellinto Compact Red And Violet’ fuchsia delivers a classic pink and purple color combination in a small plant that’s perfect for pots. Plants grow 8 to 16 inches tall and 10 to 14 inches wide. Look for fuchsia in many different color pairings, including pastel pink and lavender, or white and red. Flowers also come in solid shades, such as orange or deep red. Fuchsia is a hummingbird magnet, so display plants where you can easily view them from indoors to watch the air show.

Coleus Container Garden

Coleus is an old-fashioned favorite for shady locations, and modern varieties deliver even more. This trio of ColorBlaze coleus boasts beautiful leaves on plants that don’t set flowers easily, which means no more endless deadheading. Mix and match coleus varieties for containers or planting beds by choosing complementary and contrasting leaf colors and patterns. Make sure the coleus you choose is not a full-sun variety if you’re growing it in the shade. Pinch out growing tips when plants are young to increase branching.

Caladium, Begonia and Ivy

Shady spots explode with color when you draft botany’s big guns for shade: caladium, begonia and ivy. This pot showcases classic container garden design. A white and green caladium stands in as thriller, with Dragon Wing Pink begonia as filler and green ivy as spiller. It’s a blend that easily fits on any porch or deck to bring season-long color. Dragon Wing begonias are a shade all-star, strutting their stuff in part to full shade. These begonias are low maintenance, heat tolerant beauties that pump out flowers until fall’s first frost. This planting combination looks great in a pot, but would transition easily to planting beds, too.

Blue And White Torenia

For beautiful blooms that can’t be overlooked, plant 'Duchess Blue & White' torenia (Torenia fournieri 'Duchess Blue & White'. Also known as wishbone flower, this pretty annual makes a striking filler in containers or edging along a planting bed. Plants grow 6 inches tall and up to 10 inches wide. Pinch out growing tips on young plants to increase branching, which means more flowers. Look for torenia that opens blossoms in hues of pink, lavender, yellow and white. 'Duchess' torenia has been specifically developed to flower strongly in full shade.

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