Ten Best Annuals for Shade

by Paul Schorr

The selection of annuals that do well in shade is somewhat limited when compared to the number of choices available for sunny locations. This list comprises 10 that will do well when grown as annuals in the St. Louis area. Those listed as growing in part shade will tolerate several hours of very early morning or filtered sunlight.  


Begonia 'Bepared' DRAGON WING RED
begonia
Herbaceous perennial

Dragon Wing™ begonias have shiny wing shaped leaves, hanging stems and pendulous flowers. Flower colors include red and pink. Looks great in baskets, planters, as an accent plant or in beds. These beauties will tolerate a good deal of sun which will turn the green foliage a reddish color. Weather resistant.

Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Height: 1 - 1.5 feet

Begonia (Semperflorens Cultorum Group)
begonia
Herbaceous perennial

Shiny green and bronze foliage varieties. Prolific bloomer in colors of white, red, pink and orange. This fibruous rooted begonia works well as a border plant or in mass plantings. Often used as an indoor flowering houseplant.

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 0.5 - 1 feet

Caladium bicolor
angel wings
Bulb

Heart shaped leaves that are colored in various patterns of white, pink, red or green. Caladiums are available as a tuber or as a greenhouse started potted plant. If you want to save the tuber for the following year, it must be dug up in the fall and stored in a cool, dry place for the winter. A great accent plant in the shade garden, in combination planters, or as a potted plant in a shady area.

Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Height: 1 - 2.5 feet

Fuchsia (group)
lady's eardrops
Broadleaf evergreen

Pendulous tube shaped flowers on plants with either weeping or upright growth habits. Most flowers are bi-colored featuring red, white, pink and purple. Weeping types are especially suited for hanging baskets, upright growers do well in containers and beds. The Dancer® series is shorter growing and especially suited for pots and containers. Fuchsias tend to decline in the heat of summer. Flowers attract hummingbirds.

Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Height: 1 - 2 feet

Hypoestes phyllostachya
polka dot plant
Broadleaf evergreen

This is another shade lover that is grown for its foliage rather than flower. As the common name suggests, its leaves are spotted with pink dots. Foliage colors range from ivory to green to shades of pink .May be grown as a houseplant, but often becomes straggly after about a year. Use outdoors in combination plants and as an accent plant in the shade garden.

Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 1 - 2 feet

Impatiens hawkeri (group)
New Guinea impatiens
Herbaceous perennial

These hybrid varieties feature sturdier plants and larger flowers than the regular impatiens. The foliage can be green, bronze or variegated depending on the variety. Most varieties tolerate more sun than the regular impatiens and come in a wide array of flower colors. Some flowers reach 3” in size. Great in tubs, beds and hanging baskets. Look for newer varieties that will tolerate full sun.

Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 1.5 - 4 feet

Impatiens walleriana
impatiens
Herbaceous perennial

Many consider this plant their #1 flowering annual for the shade garden. Impatiens are available in a wide array of colors from salmons to oranges, soft pinks to burgundy and purples and pure white to reds. Flower forms include singles, double and semi doubles, some resembling little rose like flowers. Dependable flowering from early summer to frost. Seldom need pinching. Great in beds and mass plantings Fiesta™ is one series of double impatiens.

Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Height: 0.5 - 2 feet

Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'
Swedish ivy
Herbaceous perennial

‘Mona Lavender’ is a quick growing, herbaceous perennial that can be grown as an annual in the St. Louis area. It features glossy, dark green leaves with purplish undersides and attractive lavender flowers. ‘Mona Lavender’ can be used in hanging baskets, containers and as a houseplant. As a houseplant, the shortened day length of the fall can extend the flowering well into the winter months. Remove spent flower spikes and pinch and shape as needed.

Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 1 - 2 feet

Solenostemon scutellarioides
coleus
Herbaceous perennial

Sometimes referred to as colored leaves, these shade lovers are usually grown for their foliage rather than for their flowers. A rainbow of foliage colors available from pastels to fluorescents and solids to marbled patterns. Excellent weather tolerance. Great in beds and tubs, and sometimes used as a houseplant. Newer selections include trailing varieties and those that will perform in full sun. 'Kong™' coleus feature huge foliage with unique color combinations.

Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Height: 0.5 - 3 feet

Torenia fournieri
wishbone flower
Annual

Plants feature two-toned snapdragon like flowers in white, blue, rose and purple. Plants do well in containers, hanging baskets and beds. Attracts hummingbirds. Some of the hybrid series such as Summer Wave® and Catalina® appear to be more heat tolerant.

Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Height: 0.5 - 1 feet