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28 Easy-to-Grow 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: Chris Brown Photography/

Shade-Loving Annual Flowers Add Color and Interest to Shadowy Spots

Many annuals need full sun to produce their biggest and best blooms. Others, like begonias and polka dot plants, don’t require full sun all day, but they still need a few sunny hours. Gardeners with shady spots sometimes try to compensate by growing shade-loving container plants and moving them around the yard, chasing the sun as it moves during the growing season.

It’s much easier to simply plant foliage and flowers that thrive in shade. To find the best flowers for shade, read plant labels when you're shopping. Partial shade flowers typically need four to six hours of sun a day, preferably before mid-day, when the temperatures start to climb. If the plants are marked as full shade flowers, don’t take it literally. That doesn't mean they don't need any sun at all. They just need less than four hours of sun each day.

Standard impatiens are some of the best flowers for shade. New Guinea impatiens are hybrids that can take more sun and are considered partial shade flowers. Read on for more ideas about flowers to plant in the shade.

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Photo: 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.

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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.

grow polka-dot plant

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Photo: Ball Horticultural Company

'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 the 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.

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