8. Heartleaf Brunnera
'Jack of Diamonds' Brunnera macrophylla
Brunneras are shade-tolerant perennials with huge patterned leaves and lovely blooms. This woodland plant does best in full shade and consistent, moist soils. In the north, morning sun is tolerated.
Height: 14-16”, Spread: 2'4"-2'8", Part shade to shade, Perennial in zones 3-8
‘Chantilly Lace’ Aruncus
This low maintenance, shade-loving perennial produces frothy sprays of creamy white flowers in late spring to early summer above a clump of ferny, dark green foliage. It is similar in appearance to astilbe but can handle drier conditions and blooms a bit earlier.
Grows best in moist, humus-rich soils. In northern climates, it can be grown in full sun if provided with adequate moisture. In southern zones, however, it prefers partial or full shade.
Height: 30-32”, Spread: 40-48”, Sun or shade, Perennial in zones 3-7
10. Coral Bells
Primo® ‘Wild Rose’ Heuchera
It’s easy to spot this unique variety of coral bells from a distance because its fabulous rosy purple foliage absolutely glows, even in the shade. Who needs flowers with long lasting, colorful foliage like this?
‘Wild Rose’ forms a low, wide mound that fits perfectly along the edge of a border or as an underplanting to taller ferns, medium-sized shrubs or weeping trees like Japanese maples. Pink flowers in midsummer are an added bonus.
Foliage Height: 8-10”, Flower Height: 18-20”, Spread: 26-30”, Sun or shade but best in part shade, Perennial in zones 4-9
11. Foamy Bells
Fun and Games® ‘Eye Spy’ Heucherella
Every shade garden needs at least a few chartreuse plants as accents in an otherwise green setting. ‘Eye Spy’ emerges in spring with bright yellow leaves with rosy red centers, then mellows to chartreuse for the summer months. The mounded foliage is topped with a profusion of bubblegum pink flower panicles on red stems for several weeks beginning in late spring.
This perennial grows beautifully in containers and landscape borders, requiring little more than occasional watering to thrive. Try growing it on its own in an 8-12” pot alongside your flowering annuals for beautiful contrast with little upkeep needed throughout the seasons.
Height: 8-10”, Spread: 16-20”, Part shade to shade, Perennial in zones 4-9
Shadowland® ‘Waterslide’ Hosta
If you garden in shade, you know how reliable hostas are for such challenging conditions. If you haven’t added any new varieties to your collection lately, take a look at the fancy new cultivars that have come along like this distinctive mid-sized blue variety, ‘Waterslide’. Its extremely rippled leaves and powder blue color easily stand out from the crowd, while thick leaves help it to be more pest resistant.
Grow this hosta in a container (a dark colored pot would really make the light blue foliage pop), or near the front of your shade border. Its low, broadly mounded shape is easy to pair with most other shade lovers.
Foliage Height: 14”, Flower Height: 17”, Spread: 32”, Part shade to shade, Perennial in zones 3-9
‘Cutting Edge’ Tiarella
You’ll love how this elegant woodland wildflower adds tapestry-like texture to your shade garden and delights with its early spring, bottlebrush blossoms. Its intricately dissected, deep green leaves with burgundy centers form a low mound similar to coral bells. Deer typically leave it alone because of the leaves’ fuzzy texture.
Try planting a mass of ‘Cutting Edge’ foamflowers under a small weeping tree such as a weeping cherry or at the base of a spring flowering shrub like Spilled Wine® weigela. Together, they’ll create a feast for pollinators every spring.
Foliage Height: 8-10”, Flower Height: 18-20”, Spread: 16-18”, Part shade to shade, Perennial in zones 4-9
‘Bottle Rocket’ Ligularia
This robust grower will make a statement in your shade garden with its bright mustard yellow flower spikes in summer. Ligularias are at their best when grown in cool, moist locations in part shade. Protect from hot afternoon sun.
Pair the big, bold texture of this Ligularia with ferns, Siberian irises, and Japanese maples.
Height: 2’4”-2’10”, Spread:2’-2’4”, Part Shade to Shade, Perennial in zones 4-9
15. Crested Japanese Painted Fern
‘Crested Surf’ Athyrium niponicum
Perfect for moist, shady areas of the garden. 'Crested Surf' looks similar to traditional Japanese Painted Fern, but the tips of the fronds are double-crested. Tall enough to plant in the middle of the border!
Height: 20”-22”, Spread:2’4"-2’6”, Part shade to shade, Perennial in zones 3-8