7 Annual Flowers That Grow in Shade

Pansy Flowers in a container / Pansies

Is a shady porch or entryway in your summer forecast? Wondering which flowers shy away from sun and thrive in the shadows? Well you’ll be happy to learn that some of the season’s brightest stars actually love the shade and add fantastic color to plant pots and decorative containers.

With a proper location and a bit of tender loving care, these 7 flowering annuals will be on their best behavior – even when the weather heats up.

Understanding Shade and Flowers

For success in growing shade loving annuals, it’s important to examine the planting location and determine just how much light the area receives in a day. Not all shade is created equal – some areas receive a moderate amount of filtered sunlight, while other locations are light, but receive no direct sun at all.

Most shade loving flowers will thrive either way, as long as the area remains partially shaded, and plants do not become overheated. Entryways or other garden spots that stay very dark may be suitable for woodland plants, but few annual flowers will flourish there.

Decorative Containers and Flower Gardening

Shade loving annuals will grow in just about any type of decorative container as long as the vessel is large enough to house all of the plants comfortably, has good drainage, and is filled with a high-quality potting mix. Since flowers bloom continuously and exhaust some of their nutrients, a monthly dose of fertilizer will keep them healthy and disease-resistant.

Annual Flowers that Thrive in Shade

Ageratum – Commonly referred to as ‘flossflower’, ageratums are admired for their beautiful, lavender-blue flowers and their reliability as a long summer bloomer. Dwarf varieties like ’Blue Blazer’, ‘Blue Danube’ and ‘Royal Delft’ will reach between 4 and 6 inches tall and thrive in filtered shade with a steady dose of water.

Impatiens – If you are looking for a hardy, easy-to-grow annual, impatiens is a sure bet. The plant comes in several different species, but ‘Wallerana’ includes a compact variety best-suited for container planting. Delicate flowers come in pink, scarlet, rose, violet, orange, white, purple, and bicolors. Impatiens prefer rich, moist soil and a shady locale during warm summer months.

Lobelia – The popular, low-growing lobelia is a perfect companion for any container arrangement. Flowers are most often seen in shades of bright blue and maintain intense, vibrant color all season long. ‘Cambridge Blue’ and ‘Crystal Palace’ are nursery favorites, but almost any lobelia will bloom in partial shade and moderately fertile soil. For hanging baskets look for trailing varieties like ‘Blue Cascade’ or ‘Sapphire’.

Nicotiana – A member of the tobacco family, nicotiana is prized both for its beauty and sweet smelling fragrance. This annual enjoys partial shade and must be protected from overheating during the warmest months of summer. Look for ‘Domino’ or other dwarf strains suitable for decorative container gardening. Flowers are available in lavender, purple, white, pink and red.

Pansy – You may recognize this delicate flower as a spring favorite, but pansies also prosper in full shade during the summer. They come in blue, yellow, rose, purple, burgundy and bicolors. Care must be taken to prevent overheating, and frequent deadheading will encourage continuous blooming. Pansies are often considered a perennial, and may winterize and return the following season, if a decorative container is left outside during the colder months.

Torenia – Often called ‘wishbone flower’, torenia is an excellent gardening choice for pots, window boxes and hanging containers. Tubular-shaped flowers come in shades of blue, white, pink, purple or yellow. Plants grow 6 to 12 inches tall, enjoy partial shade and plenty of moisture.

Wax Begonia – The begonia is a dependable, summer annual prized for its delicate flowers, as well as its bright, multi-colored foliage. The plant is an excellent, hardy bloomer if grown in filtered shade with moist, but well-drained soil. Dwarf strains such as ‘Cocktail’, ‘Hot-Tip’ or ‘Prelude’ are excellent choices for potted flower arrangements. Begonias enjoy a bit of humidity and may need a cool mist, when the weather heats up.

As with any garden plant, shade lovers need ample room to grow, occasional grooming and immediate intervention at the first sign of insects, slugs or other pests. With a comfortable home and some artful arrangement, they’ll perform their best and brightest, all summer long.

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