Skip to main content

The Ultimate Guide to Partial Shade Perennials: Thrive in Dappled Sunlight

May 12, 2024

Partial shade plants for your garden

Are your garden’s sunny spots just a bit too fleeting? Partial shade perennials are perfect for those areas that get just enough sun to sparkle but not enough to scorch. This guide will introduce you to the best partial shade perennials that bring beauty and resilience to your garden’s lightly shaded areas.

Why Choose Partial Shade Perennials?

Partial shade perennials need about three to six hours of sunlight a day, preferably during the cooler hours of the morning or late afternoon. These conditions are common under light tree canopies, beside walls or fences, or on the east or north sides of buildings. Such plants are ideal for gardeners who need versatile flora that can handle a mix of sun and shade.

partial sun plants
The Hellebore is a partial sun and shade plant

Top Partial Shade Perennials for Your Garden

Common NameLatin NameAvailable ColorsKeeps Foliage?Description (including zone)
Coral BellsHeuchera spp.Red, purple, green, variegatedYesVibrant foliage with delicate flower spikes, attracts pollinators. Prefers well-drained soil. Hardy in zones 4-9.
Japanese AnemoneAnemone hupehensisWhite, pinkNoElegant flowers bloom in late summer to fall, adds grace to any garden. Hardy in zones 4-8.
LigulariaLigularia spp.Yellow, orangeNoLarge leaves and striking flowers, prefers moist, well-drained soil. Hardy in zones 4-8.
HydrangeaHydrangea spp.Blue, pink, white, purpleNoLarge blooms, soil pH affects flower color. Loses leaves in winter but returns in spring. Hardy in zones 3-9.
AstilbeAstilbe spp.Pink, red, white, lavenderNoFeathery plumes in summer, thrives in moist soil. Hardy in zones 3-8.
HostasHosta spp.Green, blue, variegatedNoLush foliage with summer blooms, great for ground cover. Hardy in zones 3-9.
CampanulaCampanula spp.Blue, purple, whiteNoBell-shaped flowers, ideal for rock gardens and borders. Hardy in zones 3-9.
HelleboresHelleborus spp.White, green, pink, purpleYesBlooms in late winter to early spring, evergreen in many climates. Hardy in zones 4-9.
BrunneraBrunnera macrophyllaBlue, whiteYesHeart-shaped leaves with striking markings, spring blooms. Hardy in zones 3-8.
Wonderful partial shade plants for landscape and garden

Master Gardener Tip: Not all shade is created equal! There’s dappled shade (shifting sunlight throughout the day), morning shade (sun in the morning, shade in the afternoon), and afternoon shade (sun in the afternoon, shade in the morning). Understanding the type of shade you have will help you choose the best plants and insure your plants grow and prosper!

Design Tips for Planting Partial Shade Perennials

Designing a partial shade garden requires attention to bloom time and foliage texture. Plant taller species like foxglove and ligularia towards the back of your beds with lower-growing plants like heuchera and brunnera at the forefront. Consider bloom times to ensure continuous color and interest throughout the growing season.

Maintenance Tips for Partial Shade Perennials

Partial shade perennials typically require less maintenance due to their adaptable nature. Here are a few tips:

  • Watering: Ensure consistent moisture, especially during the hotter parts of the year.
  • Mulching: Apply mulch to retain soil moisture and regulate soil temperature.
  • Fertilizing: Feed with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring to promote vigorous growth and flowering.


Partial shade perennials are the perfect solution for gardeners looking to beautify those tricky light-shaded areas. With the right plants, you can create a lush, colorful garden that thrives in dappled sunlight. Start planting today and watch your shaded garden transform into a vibrant oasis.

Mailchimp Sidebar Signup Form

Subscribe for blog updates