Aside from the blooms, the beauty of growing annual flowers for partial shade is that you can change the colour scheme or plant choices every year. You can go with a pastel mix with shades of lavender and pink, or perhaps all one colour such as white, which can look quite striking in a partially shaded flower garden. Make sure the garden drains well, though, since long-term wet roots can lead to rotting.
Tall Annuals for Partial Shade
Annual honesty (Lunaria annua L.), also called money plant or silver dollar plant, grows to about 3 feet tall. Blooms of purple or pink appear in the spring and are followed by seed pods that dry to a shiny silvery finish, looking much like a coin. Butterfly flower (Schizanthus pinnatus) offers blooms in white, red and shades of purple and grows up to 4 feet tall. Common stock (Matthiola incana) can reach up to 30 inches tall and produces fragrant blooms of red, white, yellow, pink or purple that are suitable for cutting.
Medium Annuals for Partial Shade
Medium-height annual plants for partial shade have an average height potential of around 2 feet. Annual flowers of medium height that bloom from spring to fall include impatiens (Impatiens wallerana), which grow 8 to 24 inches tall and produce white, pink, purple, red or salmon blooms. Medium-size annuals for partial shade that bloom from summer into fall include bachelor's button (Centaurea cyanus), which grows 12 to 36 inches tall and offers blooms of blue, white or pink; and four-o'clock (Mirabilis Jalapa), which grows 20 to 24 inches tall and produces pink, red, yellow or white flowers.
Short Annuals for Partial Shade
Short annual flowers, those whose average potential height is around 1 foot, can be used along a walkway or as a flower bed border. Wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens) produces blooms of white, pink or red and grows 6 to 12 inches tall. Pinks or dianthus (Dianthus chinensis) grows 6 to 18 inches tall and produces blooms of white or shades of pink or red. The purple, blue, white, yellow or bicolor blooms of pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) display from spring into fall and may continue blooming through winter. Pansies grow 8 to 12 inches tall.
Annual Vines for Partial Shade
Add height to your partial-shade flower garden by growing vines up a trellis or arbor. Annual vines that bloom in partial shade include black-eyed Susan vine (thunberegia alata), which grows up to 7 feet and displays daisy-like blooms of yellow, orange or white with dark centres. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum) grows to 6 feet with blooms of yellow, orange and red. Also consider planting these vines in a deck-rail flower box, or let them trail along the ground.
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- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension Service; Annual Flowers for North Carolina; Erv Evans
- University of Tennessee Extension: Annual and Perennial Flower Shade Gardening in Tennessee; Susan Wilson Hamilton, et al.; 2004
- Colorado State University Extension; Annual Vines: Climbing the Walls to an Attractive Garden; Judy Sedbrook; January 2010