The Best Perennial Plants for Partial Shade

Updated February 21, 2017

Perennial plants will come back year after year, growing bigger and producing more brilliant displays with each growing season. Different plants will grow better in areas that provide either full sun, partial shade or heavy shade. Partial shade indicates that the plant receives sun for part of the day, but is protected by shade during the hottest parts of the day. If partial shade plants are left in full sun, the leaves can be burnt.


Hostas are hardy perennials that are tolerant of shade. Hosta plants take four to eight years to mature and vary in size depending on the cultivated variety of hosta. Their leaves can be a solid colour blue, green, gold or yellow, or they may be variegated, containing more than one colour. Hosta leaves are usually rounded, but some types form a vase shape. Flowers form on tall spikes and are usually lavender or white. Hostas will grow best in areas that allow morning exposure to the sun, but are protected by shade in the afternoon. Overexposure to the sun will cause the leaves to burn in hot summer months.


With over 100 cultivars, lilies vary in form from trumpet-shaped, outward-facing, upward-facing and hanging-bell flowers. Of the many varieties of lilies, all can be categorised as either trumpet lilies, Asiatic lilies or Oriental lilies. To grow a lily, plant bulbs underground so that the tops of the bulbs are buried in 5 inches of soil. The flowers will be their best if planted in partial shade with sunshine for half the day or more. Lilies grow best in moist soil with ample drainage.


Of the 23 different species of hydrangea, only five are commonly grown in the United States. The most commonly known cultivar, the mophead hydrangea, produces large, round blooms of white, pink or blue flowers. Lacecap cultivars display a ring of small flowers surrounded by an outer ring of brilliant blue or pink flowers. Hydrangeas grow best when planted in areas that provide morning and afternoon shade, but will not do well in full or heavy shade. These flowers will grow to be 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide, so they should be given plenty of room to grow. Plant in soil with good drainage and avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.

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About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.