Choosing perennials to decorate and dress up a shady area in your yard doesn’t need to be difficult. There are several perennials available that will look gorgeous and make your landscape pop. For some tried and true plants that will give you color, variety, texture and simple beauty, check out these suggestions. Here are five beautiful shade-loving perennials that will pretty up your yard.
Hosta — Hostas are also known as “plantain lily” and featured beautiful green foliage in assorted shades (even variegated). Hostas are great shade-loving perennials that spread and are perfect choices in shade beds and under trees. Hostas put out tall stalks with pretty mauve or white flowers and will attract butterflies, bees and even hummingbirds.
Hostas do very well in shade or dappled light and they are also tolerant of full sunlight as long as they are watered well. Slugs and snails are the worst pests for hostas. Avoid watering hostas in the evening to help deter these pests. Divide hostas in the spring by digging up plants and splitting up the mass of rhizomes the plants grow from. When transplanting, plant smaller hostas about six inches apart and larger varieties about 36 inches apart.
Hostas are very hardy and even the least green-thumbed gardener can keep these beauties going.
Bleeding heart — Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) has pretty, green fern-like foliage and brilliant pink-red and white flowers (some varieties have all-white flowers) that resemble small hearts. This plant is fun and whimsical and a beautiful addition to any shade bed.
Bleeding heart plants can reach 16-24 inches tall and will create clumps that can be up to two feet wide. This plant is best grown in filtered sunlight and should be protected from windy locations. Large clumps can be divided in the fall and transplanted about 10-12 inches apart. Water deeply during dry periods in the spring and summer.
Cranesbill — Cranesbill geranium is one of those small, pretty flowers that likes both sun and shade, making it a very versatile plant. Some varieties can grow very large (up to around three feet tall) while others stay low-growing (about six inches). This great plant is wonderful to fill in areas of a shade bed or it can be added as a border plant. It is a personal favorite as just a simple accent plant in both sun and shade beds.
Lenten rose — The Lenten rose or helleborus is a pretty little plant with leathery, green leaves. This plant prefers dappled sunlight and is a great addition in shade beds underneath trees. A unique things about hellebores is that many varieties bloom during the winter and early spring when most other perennials are dormant. During the rest of the year, the Lenten rose will offer gorgeous greenery.
Clumps can be divided in the spring and summer and divisions can be transplanted about 8-12 inches apart.
Astilbe — Astilbe is a versatile plant that will do just fine in bright sun or dappled shade. Light shade is ideal and the plumes from this flowering plant can grow to be 20 or more inches tall. Astilbe can be found in shades of pink, mauve, red, or white and look prettiest when several are planted together. The flowers have a feathery appearance and are a beautiful addition to any flower bed.
Astilbe doesn’t like hot, dry weather and will require extra watering under such conditions. Never let an astilbe plant dry out and mulch heavily to help the plants retain moisture. Divide astilbe clumps in late fall (make sure each division has a crown and a good root set) then plant divisions about 8-10 inches apart.