Colorful Plants for Shady Flower Beds

colourful plants for shady spots

Finding colorful plants for shady flower beds present a unique challenge for gardeners. Whether you’re dealing with a partially or fully shaded spot, when it comes to shade-loving plants, there are fewer to choose from. So how to create stunning, vibrant displays in your more challenging areas?

Two things: a bit of imagination and a little bit of knowledge.

The imagination part is up to you. But here’s the knowledge you need to maximize the potential of your semi-shady flower beds.

You’re the Artist. Your Space is the Palette.

Like an artist painting a picture, you can use a selection of shade-friendly annual plants to create your masterpiece. Depending upon the play of dappled sun and shadow, the palette of colors can be an ever-changing kaleidoscope for your viewing pleasure.

Colorful Plants for Shady Flower Beds

All of these shady flower bed selections are relatively disease-free. They require little maintenance and provide lots of color. You can mix and match ’em, or plant your favorites en masse for bold, eye-catching spectacles.

Let’s get started. In alphabetical order:



One of the most popular shade-tolerant annual plants, they are easy to grow and will tolerate varying amounts of sunlight. And there are so many begonias to choose from! Begonias will bloom throughout the summer and fall. And all adapt well to being indoors for the winter.  Growing beautiful begonias is easy once you have the right information.

Each type of Begonia has its own characteristics:

Angel Wing Begonia  

You may also know these as cane begonias. Red begonia plants in landscapingFlourishing on segmented stems somewhat similar to bamboo, the foliage on angel wing begonias provides color throughout the season. Even when the plant is not in bloom. Angel wing begonias enjoy partial to full shade and do well in both containers or the ground.

Solenia Begonia

Bred to be a sun lover, this begonia will perform just as well in partial shade. This heat-tolerant variety is also resistant to mildew. Plus, it has some of the most unique coloration.

Tuberous Begonia

The Santa Cruz® Begonia is unique. Bred to brave the rain, heat and sun, this is the begonia to grow if you are ‘iffy’ about begonias.

Wax Begonia

This may be the begonia you are most familiar with. Its waxy leaves retain water for the plant, while also displaying striking color. They will all perform well in shady beds or containers. You can look forward to oodles of single and double blossoms from late spring through early fall.


Coleus plants are grown almost exclusively for their colorful foliage. Certain varieties sport incredible, unique patterns and hues. Some coleus will have the best color in full shade, while others prefer a bit of sun. All will provide gorgeous pigment in partial shade and will perform well in containers or beds. One tip: you should pinch the insignificant blossoms before they go to seed. Coleus has the distinction of thinking its life is over once it goes to seed and, subsequently, the plant will die out. Coleus is also quite adaptable to indoor living. Interest piqued? Learn more about growing coleus plants.


You may know these as sweet potato vines. Exhibiting fantastic growth over a single season and available in a variety of leaf shapes and colors, Ipomoea is often grown as an annual ground cover. But is also utilized as a spiller or filler with any number of annuals in containers. Ipomoea will be happy in partial shade to full sun. But it is happiest in dappled shade, especially in the warmest environs.

sunpatiens for shade

SunPatiens Impatiens

There is a SunPatiens for everyone! Classified as compact, spreading, or vigorous, each has attributes and colors to suit every grower’s tastes. The compact SunPatiens have shorter stems with exceptional branching. The spreading SunPatiens have a more cascading habit. The vigorous SunPatiens are not only adaptable to container growth but are being utilized as a super gorgeous flowering ground cover. All SunPatiens are self-cleaning and resistant to downy mildew.



One of the best colourful plants for shady flower beds, torenia (also known as the wishbone flower) is a little-known relative to the snapdragon. Think whimsical. The blossoms have velvety-looking cheeks, wide-open mouths and yellow or orange tongues. Slow growing, though exceptionally heat tolerant, will bloom in the shade. In northern climates, it will tolerate full sun. The best part? It wll bloom throughout the summer, right up to the first frost. Torenia will be as happy indoors during the winter as it is outdoors the rest of the year.

So there you have it. Now you know exactly what to plant in that semi-shady flower bed.

Time to put your creative skills to work? Check out our shade tolerant plants and get started.

Happy growing!

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Comment