Colorful Perennials for Shade

Shade gardens can be considered a problem area of a yard because often it is difficult for plants to be visible in darker areas. If you plan well and use plants with brightly colored leaves you can add  ‘pop’ even in a dark spot. Use plants with showy foliage in light colors to achieve both color and texture in a perennial border throughout the summer months. A few suggestions for shade loving plants with bright foliage are:


Hosta are known for their shade tolerance. They are available in a variety of bold colors and leaf sizes which can  bring interesting texture to a shady border garden. Hosta like water but do not care to have wet feet.

Ben Vernooij – a medium size hosta with blue green centers and vibrant yellow margins.

Lakeside Cupcake – a small hosta with tri tone coloring in lime, medium and darker green.

Guacamole – a giant hosta in bright chartreuse green with a darker edge.


Ferns are perfect for shade gardens as their natural environment is often damp areas on the forest floor. Give ferns plenty to drink! Not only are they shade loving, ferns are ideal for a wet spot which would otherwise be considered a problem area.

fern Autumn Fern – new foliage is a beautiful coppery bronze. Autumn fern is more sun and drought tolerant than other ferns.

fern Painted Fern – gorgeous shades of purple and silver, Painted Fern thrives in a damp, shady spot,


Heuchera, or coral bells add vibrant color to shade. New cultivars are known to be more tolerant of our Georgia heat but this plant will need water and good drainage is a must. They don’t care to have their roots sitting in water.

heuchera Obsidian – a deep purple which can appear almost black from a distance. Leaves have a high gloss.

Lime Ricky – bright yellows and lime green make this coralbell pop in a shade garden.

Peach – a bright orange peach for containers or a shady, woodland garden. The airy flowers are cream colored.

Solar Eclipse – has bright green margins with maroon to red centers. The leaves are deeply cut for a ruffled look.


Carex Everillo – a sedge which forms a tidy, compact mound. Perfect for an accent or to line a garden path.

Japanese Forest Grass – a colorful, graceful groundcover for shade in bright green and yellow. Prefers moisture.

carex Carex Everest – white always shows up well in shade and this sedge has it. A variegated, clump forming perennial.

A Few Other Ideas

solomons seal
Variegated Solomon’s Seal – a graceful, arching plant found naturally under forest trees, Variegated Solomon’s Seal can brighten up a woodland garden.

variegated hellebore
Hellebore – lenten rose is known for its shade tolerance and winter flowers but some cultivars such as Pacific Frost have variegated foliage.

We Design Shade Gardens

We design custom shade gardens for north georgia residents. If you would like to speak to us about your needs, please contact Art of Stone Gardening at Contact Us!

Do you have a favorite shade loving perennials in your garden? Please share your ideas and let us know in the comments below!

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