Selecting the right summer annual can add a long-lasting splash of color to a shady landscape. Shade-loving annuals come in a myriad of colors, sizes and textures. They can be used in mass plantings, accent areas or placed in containers to bring vibrancy to a shady spot.

Dragon Wing Begonia

Shade annuals planted around the base of a large tree make a striking formal statement. (Just remember they may require more water.)

Photo Credit: Lane Greer


Weeping fuchsia blooms are eye-catching and eye-pleasing.

Photo Credit: Lane Greer


Torenia is a less common annual, but a great choice for its dark green foliage and long bloom cycle.

Photo Credit: Lane Greer

When you think of annuals for shade gardens, one obvious contender pops into mind – impatiens (Impatiens ). Although there are several other good options for shady locations, impatiens almost always create a spotlight in a shady garden. They’re fast growers, inexpensive and are disease- and insect-resistant. From red to white, orange to purple, they come in a wide range of colors, making a striking appearance when planted in mass. They tend to be thirsty growers, so when planted under trees, realize that they may loose out to the tree in competition for water and may wilt frequently. (So be prepared to water often or install an irrigation system.)

Begonias (Begonia semperflorens-cultorum) are another old favorite for shady locations. With a variety of foliage hues and a few basic flower colors, begonias can work well in almost any situation. They’re striking in a group, work well in containers and, best of all, are inexpensive. Begonias do best in partial shade to avoid leggy plants and lackluster flower production. Look for angel wing begonias, Dragon Wing® begonias or double-blooming begonias, for a twist on the traditional.

If you have a shade garden, you’re one of the few lucky people who can enjoy caladiums (Caladium) for a striking splash of foliage color in the landscape. Caladiums are foliage plants that come in vibrant shades of pink, white, red and unusual shades of green. Though these annuals do produce flowers, they’re not showy and should be removed so the plants use all of their energy to produce more foliage.

If you’re looking for a shade annual that draws attention, try planting fuchsia (Fuchsia). Growers are developing many new fuchsias intended for the landscape rather than the traditional use in hanging baskets. The plants are usually sold in small containers rather than cell packs, which makes them a little more expensive. But with the development of more color and size variations, you can find interesting accent plants for containers and home entryways. Since their detail is lost at a distance, use fuchsias as eye-catching specimen plants to fully appreciate the intricate flowers.

Torenia (Torenia) is a wonderful choice for a shade or part-shade garden with moist soil. This annual is terrific for containers, groupings and as an accent plant. From a distance, the small flowers present a hint of color, which can complement other flowering plants. They bloom in abundance all season long. The plant is currently available in shades of pink, purple and white.

Consider your local climate, soil conditions and plant-maintenance requirements when choosing the perfect annual for your shade garden. Experiment with new plants and enjoy the beacon of color the right summer annual will put in your shady spot.