University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Flowers for Shade                               OH 9

Leonard Perry, Extension Professor

Low (up to about 1 foot in height)
Botanical and Common Name Flower Color Other Notable Features
Ajuga reptans (Carpet Bugle) Blue Good foliage
Anchusa ssp. (Bugloss) Blue 12 - 36"
Asarum europaeum (European Wildginger) --- Good foliage
Asperula odorata (Sweet Woodruff) White Good foliage
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Blue Leadwort) Blue 9"
Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-Valley) White Good foliage, fragrant
Geranium sanguineum (Bloodred Geranium) Red, purple Good foliage
Lamium maculatum (Spotted Deadnettle) Lavender, white Good foliage
Myosotis scorpioides (Forget-me-not) Blue ---
Primula species (Primroses) Various ---
Sedum spp. (Stonecrop) Various ---
Stachys olympica (Lamb's Ears) Pink Good foliage
Vinca minor (Myrtle, Periwinkle) Blue Good foliage
Viola cornuta (Tufted Pansy) Violet ---
Viola odorata (Violet) Purple, white Fragrant

Medium (1 1/2 to 3 feet in height)
Botanical and Common Name Flower Color Other Notable Features
Astilbe arendsii (Astilbe) Red, pink, white Good foliage
Bergenia cordifolia (Heartleaf Bergenia) Pink Good foliage
Brunnera macrophylla Blue ---
Campanula spp. (Bellflowers) Purple, various ---
Dicentra eximia (Fringed Bleeding-Heart) Pink Good foliage
Dicentra spectabilis (Common Bleeding Heart) Red, white ---
Dodecatheon meadia (Common Shootingstar) White, pink ---
Epimedium spp. (Epimedium) White, yellow, red Good foliage
Flipendula hexapetala (Dropwort) White Good foliage
Helleborus ssp. (Hellebore) White, pink Good foliage
Hemerocallis (Daylily) Yellow, orange, red ---
Heuchera sanguinea (Coral Bells) Red, pink, white Good foliage
Hosta spp. (Plantain-Lily) Lavender, white, blue Good foliage
Iris kaempferi (Japanese Iris) Red, purple, white ---
Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris) Red, purple, white Good foliage
Lysimachia spp. (Loosestrife) White, yellow ---
Mertensia virginica (Bluebells) Blue ---
Phlox divaricata (Blue Phlox) Blue, white Fragrant
Polemonium caeruleum (Jacob's Ladder) Blue, white Good foliage
Tradescantia spp. (Spiderwort) Blue, white, purple ---
Trollius spp. (Globeflower) Yellow, orange ---

Tall (more than 3 feet in height)
Botanical and Common Name Flower Color Other Notable Features
Aconitum spp. (Monkshood) Blue, purple Good foliage ---
Cimicifuga racemosa (Cohosh Bugbane) White Good foliage
Digitalis purpurea (Common Foxglove) Lavender, purple, white ---
Fillipendula rubra (Prairie Meadowsweet) Red, white, pink ---
Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower) Red ---
Lythrum cultivars (Purple Loosestrife) Red, purple ---
Monarda didyma (Beebalm) Red, pink, white Fragrant
Thalictrum spp. (Meadowrue) Pink, lavender, white, yellow ---
Valeriana officinalis (Garden Heliotrope) White, lavender Fragrant

ANNUALS (or plants treated as annuals) - for light shade

(Adapted from original leaflet by N. Pellett and S. Littlefield, UVM)

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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. Lawrence Forcier, Director, UVM Extension System, Burlington, Vermont. University of Vermont Extension System and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone, without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or familial status.

Last reviewed 2003