Spring has sprung and blooms and blossoms are providing that burst of color we’ve been waiting months for.
While this is reason enough to plant some flowers, many can also provide an additional benefit: shade.
With this in mind, and with the hot summer sun on its way, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of flowering plants that provide the most shade from the sun and are relatively easy to care for.
Best shade plants for pots
Sometimes, we’re limited to planting in pots. This can actually be advantageous when it comes to providing shade, as pots can be stacked on a shelf or moved throughout the summer months to provide shade where it’s needed.
What potted plants give the best shade?
If you’ve got a larger container, you might want to try growing hollyhock, a biennial with pink, black, red, or white spires.
With an old-fashioned look, this makes for a great border or shade provider for a cottage-style garden. Just be sure you have a container that’s deep enough to support their large taproots.
2. Canna Lily
Again, canna will need a large container to accommodate its extensive root system. However, even in a pot, it can reach heights of up to around five feet tall.
Its large leaves will provide some shade, while its bright orange and yellow flowers will provide an attractive thing to look at.
3. Red Hot Poker
With red hot poker, you can either use dwarf varieties in a smaller pot and have them stacked to provide a wall of shade, or even try for some of the larger varieties in a larger pot.
Some of the color varieties will reach up to three to four feet tall, and the exotic-looking orange, red, and yellow tube shaped flowers will sit atop lush, grass-like green foliage, providing a very attractive way to shade a lower garden bed or patio.
Flowering perennial plants for shade
Flowering perennial plants can be tall—in fact, probably much taller than you think.
Some flowering perennials can reach heights up to nine feet! Not only does this provide year after year of beautiful color, but it can also serve as an excellent privacy screen or shade provider.
What are the best perennial plants that give shade?
Reaching heights of up to eight feet tall, this towering tropical shrub is a gorgeous ornamental tree.
With shades of pink, red, and white, the exotic looking blooms are worth having in your garden on their own!
Combined with dense lush green foliage, you can provide a little bit of shade, too.
5. Cutleaf Coneflower
This member of the same family as black-eyed Susans has yellow flowers with drooping petals.
It can reach a towering nine feet tall and while its flowers look like the sunshine, it can help keep your space shaded.
6. Chimney Bellflower
Reaching heights of over five feet tall, the blue-purple bell-shaped blooms can provide a bit of shade during their blooming period, mid-summer through fall.
This variety of campanula can tolerate many different soil and climate conditions, too.
In South Shore Massachusetts, we might be at the edge of this perennial’s USDA hardiness zone (around 7-10) so keep this in mind if you decide to experiment with it.
7. Joe Pye Weed
Joe Pye Weed ticks all the boxes. It’s a perennial, it has gorgeous vanilla scented pink and purple flowers, and it’s tall.
It can reach heights up to 12 feet, meaning that it will welcome butterflies and other pollinators but block out some of the sun’s hot rays.
8. Oriental Lily
Coming in a bit shorter, at just four to six feet tall, a hearty lily is a great way to provide beautiful pink and white flowers.
As if their intoxicating scent isn’t enough, they also provide blooms that are great at blocking sun.
They’re technically biennials, but as a plant that is quick to re-seed, foxglove acts like a perennial plant. It’s got stunning tube-shaped pink blue, or white flowers and the plant can reach heights of up to five or six feet tall.
They thrive in full sun, too!
As if the soaring spikes of flowers in deep colors of purple, pink, blue, and white aren’t enough to warrant planting delphinium, the plant’s taller varieties (reaching around 6 feet tall) can also provide some shade to your deck or patio space.
Flowering evergreen plants for shade
Evergreen plants like arborvitae are excellent shade-providers, but what about evergreen plants that flower?
With flowers that are a bright color of pink, red, lavender, or white, rhododendron is an attractive evergreen on its own.
Even more so when you realize that the blooms are large and that some varieties of rhododendron can reach heights of up to 15 ft tall!
Because they can tolerate full sun, they can help protect you from it.
12. Mountain Laurel
With showy late spring and summer flowers that come in dark pink or white colors, the attractive evergreen foliage sometimes takes a backseat.
However, both aspects of mountain laurel can help provide shade, especially because some varieties (like ‘Raspberry Glow’) can reach heights of up to five feet tall.
What are some native evergreen plants that give shade?
Inkberry is a broadleaf evergreen and member of the holly family. It’s native to eastern North America.
It’s got multiple benefits in that it’s a hardy, low-maintenance plant, it’s deer resistant, and it’s great at providing shade as it can reach heights of six to 12 feet tall.
14. Rosebay Rhododendron
For something to really provide shade, consider it this variety of rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum).
Like other varieties, it provides a beautiful array of large pink flowers that can support a wide variety of wildlife.
However, unlike some other rhododendrons, it can reach heights of around 30 feet tall!
While it’s native to New England states, it’s threatened in Massachusetts—meaning more reason to plant it!
Container plants for shade
Let’s continue exploring container plants that can be used as shade, but this time focus on climbers, vining plants that can grow upwards and provide shade—in addition to gorgeous foliage and bright flowers. Wondering what is a good climbing plant for shade? Let’s take a look.
What are some climbing plants for shade that can live in a container?
15. Passion Flower
There’s nothing else in this world that looks like a passion flower. It’s been described as a mix between a flower and a spaceship and can come in many different colors including blue, red, purple, and white.
While this perennial vining plant can be grown in a container, you can still expect significant and quick growth— sometimes reaching heights of up to 15 feet very quickly.
Just be sure that you provide thin trellising or use wire or twine to train the vines as they grow.
16. Morning Glory
Morning glory can certainly be grown in a container, and in fact, the annual will actually grow better when potted! Just be sure to provide a tall trellis, because the vines will quickly reach anywhere from 5 to 15 feet.
Then, you will be able to enjoy its beautiful heart shaped leaves and gorgeous blue, white, pink, red, or purple flowers—along with the shade that they provide.
17. Black-eyed Susan
We mentioned one of its relatives earlier, but this tropical perennial vine is easy to grow, and an easy way to shade a patio or porch. Ideal for growing in a container, black-eyed Susan vines can sprawl anywhere you direct them, they might just need a little support while they grow up a trellis. Choose between bright orange and yellow colors and block out some bright sunlight.
Best Flowering Ground Cover Plants that grow in Shade
We’ve discussed many flowering plants that can provide shade, but how about those that can grow well, even in shady conditions? Let’s take a look at some plants that don’t need a lot of sunlight to thrive.
18. Sweet Woodruff
With delicate clusters of white star-shaped flowers, the flowers are pretty, but aren’t as pleasing visually as they are from a scent perspective. In early summer, be ready to enjoy its sweet, vanilla-honey fragrance. You’ll continue to see emerald green leaves all the way into late autumn, too .
Sweet woodruff really stands out because it grows best in full to partial shade, the perennial doesn’t require much by way of maintenance, and it’s known to be a vigorous spreader.
Also known as spotted dead nettle, this member of the mint family is native to Europe and appears to look like stinging nettle, but doesn’t have any sting to it.
It’s a herbaceous perennial that can grow up to nine inches tall and has purple blooms in late spring, early summer.
These will attract beneficial pollinators and can cover large areas quickly, but won’t require a lot of sunlight.
20. Golden Star
Golden star is native to the eastern United States and is an excellent ground cover as well as border or edging plant.
It doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and it has bright gold flowers.
While the flowers look similar to the sun, they don’t need a lot of light to grow.
However, in low-light conditions, you may notice that the flowers are smaller and less abundant.
What are the best plants for a shaded porch?
In addition to succulents and cacti, there are many flowering plants that don’t require a tremendous amount of sun to grow, making them perfect for a shaded porch.
For some late season color, many cool season annuals in this genus will come into bloom towards the end of summer if grown in the shade.
In fact, during the summer, they actually prefer dappled or low light conditions.
They’re edible, too, and make an excellent garnish for salads.
Lobelia are a commonly-planted annual that can tolerate shady conditions. While they may appear smaller or less numerous, you’ll still get blue and white bell-shaped blooms in spring and fall.
Also known as touch-me-not, this summer bloomer is one of the most popular annual flowers, due to both their stunning bright blooms and their ability to thrive in shaded conditions.
They earn their name because in some cases, all it takes is a light touch to get their seed pods to open.
These shade bearing flowers are also perfect in hanging baskets and window boxes.
What are the best plants for shade indoors?
24. Moth Orchids
Moth orchids, or Phalaenopsis, is one type of orchid that can be grown in low light. That said, it still thrives best when indirect, strong light is present—otherwise you might notice long or floppy leaves.
25. Peace Lily
Want to bring a tropical forest into a room that doesn’t get a lot of natural light?
No worries, peace lily can do exactly that!
Peace lily is native to tropical rainforests of America and the perennial can be grown indoors to provide glossy leaves and a white or yellow flower.
While they can tolerate low and indirect light, be sure to keep them warm during winter.
With more than 3,000 species , bromeliads are some of the most common houseplants, and they’re also some of the most shade-tolerant.
While flowering isn’t guaranteed with a bromeliad, their foliage is pretty enough! In addition to green, expect to see white, red, pink, and yellow on the leaves.
Commonly asked questions about shade-giving plants
While we’re on the topic of shading, let’s answer some other commonly asked questions about what and how to provide shade.
How to create shade for plants?
Just as we enjoy some shade from the midday summer sun, so do some plants.
While sunlight is essential for growth, too much of a good thing can be bad, and can even dry out or burn the leaves.
How to make shade for tomatoes and other sun sensitive garden plants?
A DIY shade cover shield from the sun can be created with pieces of plywood, a burlap sack, or shade cloth.
For the latter, you can even choose between different shade levels (ex. 30%, 47%, or 63%), suitable for different plants and their needs.
To make a basic shade canopy for your garden (perfect for tomato plants), you’ll just need some half-inch PVC pipes, 30-50% shade cloth, 8 PVC side outlet elbows, zip ties, scissors, a hand saw, a hammer, and measuring tape.
You can follow these steps :
- Measure the garden bed to get your length and width measurements. You’ll likely want a little bit of additional coverage, so add about six inches to both measurements.
- Then, measure your height. Consider what you’ll be growing, how tall it’s expected to get, then add a foot or two to ensure that there’s enough head room, and that air will be able to properly circulate.
- Using PVC pipes, cut lengths to match your measurements for length, width, and height. You’ll be making two rectangles (one for top, one for bottom), so you’ll need four of the same piece to connect both pieces.
- Using PVC side outlet 90-degree elbows (connectors), hammer the legs into the corners of the base rectangle.
- Repeat the same process to attach the top rectangle.
- Use zip ties to secure the shade cloth to the upper frame.
How to make a sun shade for plants?
You can also consider plant stacking before you put anything in the ground.
Consider orienting any taller plants (like sunflowers) in such a way that they can provide shade to plants close by.
What are the best plants for partial shade?
27. Hellebores: These flowersmight look delicate, but this is one tough perennial—one that’s able to tolerate. Additionally, some
28. Hydrangea prefer shade, as does
29. Astilbe. You won’t get flowers, but
30. Ferns have a preference for shady environments, and make for a beautiful ground cover.
For partial shade on a porch or hanging basket, 31. Fuschia is also an excellent annual. You’ll love the eye-catching pink, purple, and white flowers—and hummingbirds will, too!
What tree should I plant for shade?
When looking for a tree for shade, you’ll likely want one that is fast growing. Fortunately, there are several different options to choose from.
32. Quaking Aspen
Quaking aspen is fast-growing and is the largest living organism because it grows in clones. Some clones found in Minnesota are estimated to be around 8,000 years old! It grows in zones 1-7, makes a nice sound, and grows more than two feet every year.
Considered to be “one tough tree,” hackberry is able to thrive in a wide range of soils and can tolerate both air pollution and strong winds. This is an energy conserving tree that provides lots of shade and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.
34. Northern Red Oak
Reaching towering heights of more than 140 feet tall, northern red oak is an exceptional tree and a great shade provider.
The tree grows rapidly and is tolerant of many soil and site conditions.
It also provides acorns that are well-loved by a range of mammals and birds.
Best plants for shade hanging baskets?
Since we already talked about some of the plants that can be grown in a hanging basket and used to provide shade, let’s look at some plants that love shade and are also ideal for containers or hanging baskets.
There are many different options including succulents, cacti, and several plants we already mentioned but if you want a little bit of color, here are a few additional suggestions.
This herbaceous perennial prefers low light and well-drained soil, making them one of the best choices for a shaded hanging basket.
Hostas are another shade loving perennial. Lucky for us, the attractive blue, green, and variegated varieties are better choices for significantly shady areas. They’re also easy to care for and long living!
Lungwort grows best in shady and moist conditions. It’s got delicate purple-pink flowers and interesting green and white leaves. Not only can lungwort handle a shady porch, balcony, or deck, but they’re also low maintenance and need very little care.
Best plants for shading a flower bed?
Any of the above-mentioned plants can help save a flower bed from the hot summer sun, but there are a few others that we didn’t mention.
If you want a lot of protection from sun, wind, or neighbors:
38. Bamboo (which is technically a grass) can be planted.
39. Sunflowers are another quick-growing plant that can help to shade shorter flowers or plants.
40. Privet can grow an astonishing three feet every year, making it an excellent shade provider.
And there you have it! 40 of the best flowering plants for shade! Visit our garden center to peruse our selection shade offering plants and deer resistant shrubs!