Shade Tolerant Perennials

By: Jennifer LaMontagne – Horticulturist – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

Do you have a shaded area in your garden that needs a splash of color?  Many varieties of plants can tolerate shade, even though they may prefer sun if provided with adequate moisture.  Other plants are shade-loving such as the bleeding heart which will bloom in spring but die back during the summer if planted in a sunny area.  Here are a few ideas for shade tolerant flowering perennials:

Astilbe (Astilbe) has lacey fern-like foliage with soft feathery flowers that attract butterflies.  Blooming spring to summer, flower colors range from purple, pink, red, and white.  Reaching heights of up to 5 feet and 30 inches wide, astilbe prefers well-drained, consistently moist soil with lots of organic matter.

Ligularia (Ligularia) is a long-living, deer resistant perennial.  Producing long yellow flower spikes atop large, lustrous foliage, this perennial is a real stunner.  Birds are attracted to its blooms which form from summer to fall, depending on the variety.   Growing up to 6 feet high and 4 feet wide, ligularia prefers rich, consistently moist soil.  With the long, deep roots it produces, ligularia does better with deep watering.  It doesn’t like to dry out, and may wilt in the heat, but bounces back once given a thorough watering and when the heat of the day passes.   

Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)is a hardy, old-fashioned perennial that grows well in partial shade.  Although tolerant of most soil conditions, it does best in average, well-drained soil with adequate moisture.  Stalks of dainty yellow flowers sit atop a mound of velvety foliage.  Blooming late spring to early summer, the flowers attract butterflies.  Lady’s mantle can grow up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide.  It is usually left alone by deer and rabbits.

Goat’s Beard (Aruncus) resembles astilbe with the fern-like foliage and light feathery cream-colored flowers, which bloom late spring to summer.  Goat’s beard grows best in moist, rich soil mixed with organic matter.  This low maintenance perennial can grow up to 6 feet tall and wide in sun to partial shade.

Other shade tolerant perennials include coral bell, cimicifuga, and hosta.  For more ideas stop in at Bloch’s Farm and ask one of our knowledgeable staff members.      

Bloch’s Farm has many trees, shrubs, and perennials available!  Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail with any questions. Visit our website online at and our Facebook page.  Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! August 21st – August 23rd : 30% Off Native Plants!

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