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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"-10"

Spread: 12"

Bloom Color: Pink

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.


King of Hearts

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc



Songbird Dove



Songbird Cardinal



Swan Pink and Yellow


Rocky Mountain Blue


aquilegiadenvergoldcolumbine_photocourtesyplantselectDenver 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.

Denver Gold 
McKana's Giant Hybrids
Rocky Mountain Blue

Songbird Cardinal
Swan Pink & Yellow
Swan Blue & White






Dolce Blackberry Ice





Photos Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc


Bella Notte

PCO Courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries
Marvelous Marble

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.

Bella Notte
Dolce Blackberry Ice

Marvelous Marble





August Light



Bressingham Beauty


Milk and Honey



Purple Candles

Photos Courtesy Walter's Gardens Inc

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

August Light
Bressingham Beauty
Milk and Honey
Purple Candles
Younique Silvery Pink



    Younique Silvery Pink





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'
Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia)


Autumn Fern 'Brilliance'

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc


Ostrich Fern

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc



Foamflower (Tiarella)

Variety: 'Sugar and Spice'

Height: 8"

Spread: 12"

Bloom Color: Pink and white lightly fragrant flowers on long wands

Season of Bloom: Spring

Other Notes: Foliage is green and glossy with a maroon center. Adds nice color contrast even when not in bloom



Golden Zebra



Sweet Tea

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Foamy Bells (Heucherella)

Height: 10"-20""

Spread: 15"-28"

Bloom Color: White flowers on long wands

Season of Bloom: Spring

Other Notes: These plants are a cross between Huechera (Coral Bells) and Tiarella (Foamflower).  Wonderful garden performance.


Golden Zebra:  Foliage is a striking yellow with bright red pigment in the center.  Nice color contrast even when not in bloom. (white flowers) 10"H x 15"W

Sweet Tea: Large leaves in amber and cinnamon shades.  20H" x 18W"



Photo Courtesy Proven Winners

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica)

'Mon Amie'

Height: 6"-8"

Spread: 6"-8"

Bloom Color: Small, single true blue flowers.

Season of Bloom: Late Spring to Early Summer

Other Notes: A Proven Winners perennial




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




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



Winter Color

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc


Bergenia Winter Glow

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc

Pig Squeak (Bergenia cordifolia)

Variety: Winter Glow (Winterglut)

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.  





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.



Wood's Violet

Violet / Viola (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


Northern Lights heat tolerant, blue and gold blooms

Blue Velvet hardy to zone 2

Wood's Violet (aggressive spreader, makes a good groundcover)



Perennials for Shade -- SUMMER Bloomers

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)





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.

Blue and Green leaf varieties




Stairway to Heaven

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


Stairway to Heaven: variegated foliage with lavender-blue flowers




Honorine Jobert

Photos Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc



Queen Charlotte

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.


Honorine Jobert:  Pure white flowers
Queen Charlotte: Pink flowers



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. 



Big Blue

Photo Courtesy Walters Gardens Inc


Variety: Big Blue

Height: 12"-18"

Spread: 15"-18"

Bloom Color:  Lavender 'grape hyacinth' type blooms

Season of Bloom:  Late summer

Other Notes:  This grass-like perennial likes part to full shade.  Big Blue is a clump-forming selection with wide strappy leaves and a fountain-like habit.   Drought tolerant.


Rose 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.

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