shadegarden_pcojenPerennials are a wonderful way to add color to your garden without having to replant each year. Listed below are hardy bloomers that prefer a shady location. Many of these can also be grown in morning sun or dappled light, but avoid hot afternoon sun unless noted.  

Tip:  Flowers and foliage with white, silver, or light colors really brighten up a shady spot. 

Perennial flowers typically bloom most during one particular season but may overlap into another season. For instance, a late spring blooming perennial may continue on into summer. If you want color throughout the growing season, be sure to plant spring, summer, and fall blooming perennials, or supplement your plantings with annual flowers. 

Perennials for shade are listed below by the season in which they typically BEGIN blooming.  Note: Perennial groundcovers for shade are in the 'groundcovers' section). 


Click here for a listing of ALL types of perennials by bloom time.


Perennials for Shade—Spring Bloomers

Perennials for Shade—Summer Bloomers



Please Note:  Availability of specific varieties listed below will vary depending upon time of season and sales.  Please call (719) 574-8058 for current availability.




Perennials for Shade--SPRING BLOOMERS






Bleeding Heart --Old Fashioned Types (Dicentra spectabilis)

Height: 3'

Spread: 2-3'

Bloom Color: Arching sprays of heart-shaped white or pink flowers

Season of Bloom: Spring

Other Notes: Unique blossoms, hardy, long lived perennial.



Bleeding Heart -- Fern Leaf Type

Height: 8"-12"

Spread: 12"-18"

Bloom Color: Pink or Magenta

Season of Bloom: Spring with potential to bloom all season

Other Notes: Compact long-blooming bleeding heart. Fern-like foliage is blue-gray.  Provide consistent moisture for best display.


Fire Island: Magenta Red heart-shaped flowers are tipped white and
appear in late spring on this low growing plant.  12"H x 18"W

Luxuriant: Pink heart shaped flowers bloom hardest in Spring with
potential for lighter re-bloom in summer and fall.


Fire Island




Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc




Songbird Cardinal





Rocky Mountain Blue


Denver Gold
Colorado Plant Select perennial

Photo Courtesy Plant Select


Columbine (Aquilegia)

Height: Dwarf types 12", Medium Height 18"-20", Tall types 36"

Spread: 12"

Bloom Color: Blues, yellows, pinks, reds, purples, whites

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to early summer

Other Notes: Deadhead to prolong bloom. Grow in bright shade at lower elevations. May be planted in full sun at higher elevations where summers remain cool.


Colorado Violet and White
Denver Gold 

Rocky Mountain Blue
Songbird Cardinal






Dolce Blackberry Ice

Photos Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc


Berry Timeless





Coral Bells / Alumroot (Heuchera)

Height: 12"-24"

Spread: 12"

Bloom Color: sanguinea has bright red blooms. Hybrids mostly have white, light pink, or maroon flowers. All have flowers on long wands.

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer depending on variety

Other Notes:  Flowers are held above scalloped, low growing foliage. Many, many striking foliage combinations.

Berry Timeless
Dolce Blackberry Ice
Fairy Dust
Midnight Rose


Midnight Rose

Photo Courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries 










False Spirea (Astilbe)

Height: 12"-35"

Spread: 24"-30"

Bloom Color: White, Pink (all shades), Red, Peach

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer

Other Notes: Requires consistent moisture








Japanese Painted Fern


Height: 12"-36"

Spread: 12"-36"

Season of Bloom: no—but foliage adds texture to the shady perennial garden

Other Notes: Colorado's semi-arid climate is not ideal for most ferns. However, hardy varieties listed below do well when planted in shade and given consistent moisture.

Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium)
Autumn Fern (Dryopteris) 'Brilliance'
Male Fern (Dryopteris)
Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia)


Autumn Fern 'Brilliance'

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc


Ostrich Fern

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc





Photo Courtesy EPlant Source

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica)


Height: 6"-8"

Spread: 6"-8"

Bloom Color: Small, single true blue flowers.

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer






Jack Frost

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc





Heartleaf Brunnera
AKA: False Forget Me Not, Siberian Bugloss, or Heartleaf Alkanet

(Brunnera macrophylla)

Height: 12"-18"

Spread: 12"-18"

Bloom Color: Small blue 'forget-me-not' blooms are held in sprays above the leaves

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer

Other Notes: Heart-shaped foliage add interest even when not in bloom.  Light and airy when adorned with blue flowers.  A wonderful plant for a woodland setting.


Jack Frost




Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)

Height: 18"

Spread: 18"

Bloom Color: Yellow blooms held in sprays above the foliage

Season of Bloom: Early Summer

Other Notes: Prefers consistent moisture. Plant in bright shade. Lovely creased leaves catch dew.



Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Height: 6"

Spread: 12" but has potential to spread more in a moist shady setting

Bloom Color: Fragrant, small, bell-shaped white flowers

Season of Bloom: Spring

Other Notes: Short and sweet perennial.  Foliage typically dies back during the summer heat.




Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Lungwort (Pulmonaria)

'Raspberry Splash'

Height: 12"

Spread: 16"-24"

Bloom Color: Stunning small, raspberry-pink flower clusters

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer

Other Notes: Silvery spotted shimmery leaves



Red Beauty

Photo Courtesy EPlant Source


  Winter Color

Pig Squeak (Bergenia cordifolia)

Height:  8”

Spread:   12”-15”

Bloom Color:  Pink

Season of Bloom:  Spring

Other Notes:  Mostly grown for green thick foliage that turns shades of red in fall.   Leaves are semi-evergreen and hold well into the winter.   Shade to part sun.   May also be grown in sun.  


Red Beauty





Primrose (Primula)

Colossea Superb Mix (Zones 4-7)

Height:  8”-12”

Spread:  12”

Bloom Color:  Wide range from red, white, purple, blue to yellow

Season of Bloom:  Spring

Other Notes:  Blooms best during cool weather.  Does best in morning sun.  Prefers organically rich soil and MUST have a consistently moist location.




Photo Courtesy Ball Horticultural Company

Celestial Midnight

Photo Courtesy Ball Horticultural Company


Wood's Violet


Photo Courtesy Proven Winners 

Celestial Starry Night

Northern Lights

Photo Courtesy Plant Select

Viola / Violet (Perennial Viola)

Height: 6"-8"

Spread: 8"-10"

Bloom Color: Lavenders, purples, yellows, creams

Season of Bloom: Spring (some varieties will bloom all season)

Other Notes: Most varieties are also fragrant


Blackout deep black with yellow center
Celestial Midnight deep plum purple yellow center
Celestial Starry Nights lavender/purple yellow center
Etain a soft purple, yellow, cream blend
Northern Lights (Pansy) creamy white with lavender tinge
Sarah light yellow with light blue flush
Wood's Violet (aggressive spreader, makes a good groundcover)



Perennials for Shade -- SUMMER Bloomers



Photo Courtesy Ball Horticultural Company

Bigleaf Ligularia (Ligularia)

Bloom Color: Golden yellow blooms

Season of Bloom: Late Summer to Early Fall

Other Notes: Huge scalloped leaves


Othello: 3'-4'H x 2'-3'W, leaves are deep maroon




Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc


Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium)

Height: 10"

Spread: 15"

Bloom Color: Star-shaped flowers are produced on the end of the 'grass' blade. (lavenders/blues/yellow depending on variety)

Season of Bloom: Summer is strongest bloom period followed by sporadic blooms later in season

Other Notes: Small perennial good for rock garden plantings. Plant in bright shade for best blooms.  (Tradescantia AKA Spiderwort has a similar look but is larger)


Lucerne (green leaves, lavender flowers)
Yellowstone (green leaves, yellow flowers)






Chinese Meadow Rue (Thalictrum delavayi)

Height: 36”-48"

Spread: 24”

Bloom Color: Pink

Season of Bloom: Summer—Fall

Other Notes: Meadow Rues are at home in a woodland type garden. Grows best in bright dappled light with moist, compost rich soil. Taller varieties may require staking. Their flowers are showy but see through and respond to Colorado breezes. A pretty and hard-to-find perennial. Foliage is similar to a maidenhair fern --a lush addition even when the plant is not in bloom.


Hewitt's Double






Photo Courtesy Bailey Nurseries Inc

Hosta / Plantain Lily (Hosta)

Height: 6"-36"

Spread: 12"-36"

Bloom Color: Usually white or lavender spikes held above the foliage

Season of Bloom: Summer

Other Notes: Grown primarily for the foliage. Forms lush clumps of lance shaped, or rounded leaves with a wide variety of coloration.

Elegans (blue leaf)
Guardian Angel
Ivory Queen
Key West


                       Guardian Angel              Ivory Queen                  Key West

Photos Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc



Brise D'Anjou

Touch of Class

Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium)

Height: 18"

Spread: 15" (in bloom)

Bloom Color: Lavender

Season of Bloom: Summer

Other Notes: Fern-like foliage is held low in neat mounds


Brise D'Anjou: variegated creamy yellow/green foliage with lavender-blue flowers

Touch of Class:  variegated white/green foliage with a pink tinge and blue flowers






September Charm

Photo Courtesy Bailey Nurseries


Queen Charlotte

Photos Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc



Japanese Anemone - Windflower


Height: 2'-3'

Spread: 2'

Bloom Color:  Pink or white

Season of Bloom:  Late Summer into Fall

Other Notes:  Looking for late season color?  These are cottage
garden favorites.  Grow in well-drained, organic rich soil.  Provide consistent moisture.  (avoid extremes of VERY dry and boggy).  Does best in a bright morning sun or dappled light location.


September Charm:  Medium pink flowers
Pamina:  Deep Pink flowers
Queen Charlotte: Pink flowers



lychnisrosecampiontall_pcojenRose Campion (Lychnis coronaria)

Height:  28”-36”

Spread:  24”

Bloom Color:  Hot pink or white

Season of Bloom:   Summer—long bloom time

Other Notes:  Will grow in sun, part sun or shade.  Good choice for dry shade.