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11 Blooming Perennials for Shady Iowa Gardens

lungwort ted lare design & build

Shady spots in your yard can be dark and relatively monochrome since most flowering plants need plenty of sunlight. However, you can bring some light and color by creating a shade garden with these 11 beautifully blooming perennials for shade. 


1. Anemones are commonly called windflower. Because the flowers dance atop their stems in a breeze, these perennials feature beautiful plush blooms in shades of blue, pink, purple, red, and white. 

astilbe ted lare design & build

2. Astilbes are perennials with vibrant and flamboyant flower plumes in pink, white or red, up to 4 feet tall. They are happiest in part shade, and if you get these two Astilbe species, Astilbe japonica and Astilbe chinensis, you’ll have blooms all summer!

3. Barrenwort Bishop’s Cap is a semi-evergreen shade lover with deeply veined bronze leaves that turn olive green as they age.. They feature rose-pink blooms, 1 to 2 inches across, with graceful petals on wiry stems.

bleeding heart ted lare design & build

4. Bleeding Hearts are unique and elegant perennials to add to any shade garden. The exquisite heart-shaped flowers hang gracefully along delicate stems, with drop-like petals below the heart. Bleeding hearts bloom in spring.

5. Columbines grow well in part shade and have eye-catching flowers that resemble a jester’s hat. There are various colors available, from blue to purple to pink to white to red to yellow.

coral bells ted lare design & build

6. Coral Bells have flashy, eye-catching foliage in a dizzying array of colors. They range from almost black-purple to pinks, oranges, yellows, and greens. They also bear tiny but beautiful flowers on tall, slender stalks in spring. 

7. Corydalis has clusters of tiny beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of purple, true blue, and yellow. Corydalis is one of those hard-working perennials that bloom all summer.

ligularia ted lare design & build

8. Ligularia perennials come in two different types. There is Ligularia with daisy-like flowers with sharply pointed petals, and there are varieties with upright bloom spikes, often called rocket varieties. The flowers vary in color from pale buttery yellow to gold to deep orange—Ligularia bloom almost all summer.

9. Lungwort perennials flower early in the spring. The small but beautiful flowers come in shades of pink, purple, and blues which hover in dense clusters of the semi-evergreen foliage.

bergenia ted lare design & build

10. Pigsqueak or Bergenia, are evergreen perennials with large lush leaves. In spring, bold clusters of flowers rise above the foliage on tall stalks. The flowers come in shades of pinks that often change to a deeper or paler color over time.  


11. Toad Lilies are late summer bloomers, showing off their unique blooms when almost all other shade plants have finished blooming. The flowers are lily-shaped, have a yellow center, and the petals have a white base, covered in intricate patterns of pink or purple polka dots. There is one variety without polka dots; its petals are white with pale purple tips.

If you have lots of big trees in your yard, you can still have a vibrantly colorful garden by adding some of these shade-loving perennials. Include a variety of the plants mentioned above and you’ll be able to enjoy beautiful bursts of color in your shade garden all summer long. Come and visit us. We have plenty of ways to brighten up your shady Iowa landscape!


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