Annual Shade Plants: 15 Beautiful Plants for Your Yard

begonia annual shade loving

If you have a yard with sizeable shady spots, that makes it all the more enjoyable for outdoor activities. However, it can be tricky to keep those areas looking attractive if you don’t know what to plant.

In this article, we’re going to explore some shade loving plants. Most of them produce flowers, but a few produce really lovely, often colorful, foliage.

10 Shade Loving Annuals with Flowers:

  • lobelia


    Mulit-colored lobelias in garden hedge
  • begonia annual shade loving


    Salmon pink begonias in garden
  • impatiens


    Red and white impatiens in garden
  • snapdragon

    Trailing Snapdragon

    Dark pink, orange, and light yellow snapdragons
  • blue torenia

    Blue Torenia

    Blue torenia (wishbone flower) in full bloom
  • primula


    Yellow primrose blossoms
  • sweet alyssum

    Sweet Alyssum

    Sweet alyssum globe of yellow flowers
  • sunpatiens


    Bright pink sunpatien flowers
  • foam flower

    Foam Flower

    Foam flower blossom spikes

Annual plants, or annuals, get their name from the fact that their full life cycle only lasts one year. In order to regenerate a bed of annual plants, they must either be allowed to propagate via natural seeding, or be manually reseeded/replanted. If you’ve got potted plants, or a garden you enjoy rotating from one year to the next, this type of plant is a great choice.

For those who enjoy indoor plants, or who have shaded areas in their yard they wish to brighten up, there is a variety of annual plants which thrive in the shade. This article explores some great options for choosing shade loving annuals.


This plant is fantastic for shaded gardens, as it doesn’t require any direct sunlight to stay healthy. It thrives both potted and in the ground, so its blue-lavender blossoms bring a cool beauty to any setting you choose.

Lobelia is conveniently tolerant to cooler weather. It blooms most heartily in Autumn or early Spring.


Begonias are about as versatile and low-key as lobelias when it comes to the conditions they require to thrive. However, they do need regular watering.

This beauty fares well either inside or out, but it does prefer warmer weather. Begonias are celebrated for their gorgeous leaves and the wide variety of colors and patterns in their flowers.


Impatiens produce a bright blossom in shades of orange, pink, light purple, and white. It’s good to give them a lot of growing space, as they’ll flourish easily with a bit of rich soil and fertilizer.

Unlike other shade loving annuals, impatiens can tolerate partial sunlight. They can even be “trained” to tolerate moderate exposure if you wish to relocate them.

Trailing Snapdragon

Despite being an annual plant, these lovely ladies bloom all year. They favor the cool autumn temperatures, and some will even rebloom the following season. 

This plant’s trumpeted blossoms range from peach and red to bright pink and purple. Named for its trailing vines, this class of snapdragon is great for baskets, pots, or a bit of textured ground cover.  

Coral Bells (heucheras)

Coral bells are great for dappled shade, as they can handle partial sunlight. They’re also wonderfully resistant to heat and drought, making them a hardy choice for Texas gardens. 

They don’t bloom often, but when they do, they shower their bright foliage with a spray of tiny white blossoms. Coral bells produce a gorgeous rainbow of foliage that ranges from rust orange, burgundy, and salmon, to purple, silver, and brilliant green. 

Duchess Blue and White Torenia

These are also called wishbone flowers, due to their tendency to create triangular patterns in their petals. Some are bright blue, while others boast a bright white center with blue edges.  

These torenias produce attractive serrated leaves, and they’re mildly sun tolerant. Plus, they’ll liven up your garden by inviting hummingbirds to enjoy their nectar! 

Primula (primrose)

The “prime” in these flowers’ name is due to the fact that they’re know to be very early bloomers. They typically produce small bunches of multi-colored flowers, although some plants only create a few blossoms at a time. 

Primulas offer a lovely green foliage that grows in a broad range of heights, offering some diversity to an otherwise uniform gardenscape. While they’re relatively low-maintenance, they do need regular watering.

Sweet Alyssum

Despite being an annual, sweet alyssum can survive a winter frost and rebloom the following year, so long as it’s protected adequately from the cold. With a bit of pruning, their blooming season can last several months.

This beauty is conveniently drought and heat tolerant, making it another good choice for North Texas. It produces tiny flowers of sunny yellow, salmon, pink, and purple.


Sunpatiens are yet another great option for dappled shade, as they are somewhat sun tolerant. They can handle a decent amount of heat, but will falter in a hard winter freeze.

Their rounded blossoms come in a broad variety of colors, which are enhanced by light green leaves with dark edges. Sunpatiens were created by hybridizing Walleriana Impatiens with New Guinea Impatiens.

Foam flower (tiarella dordovilia)

Foam flowers are classed as annuals, but they are actually semi-evergreen. This means you’ve got a good chance of them reblooming the following year if they’ve remained healthy.

Their matte-green leaves boast gorgeous burgundy veins, and the foliage turns to a lovely bronze-red in the wintertime. This deep, rich foliage will keep your garden looking bright all winter long. Additionally, foam flowers produce a “tower” of pink and/or white blossoms in the springtime. 

5 Shade Loving Foliage Plants:

  • Fern


    Splayed out feathered leaves of fern plant
  • hippo rose polka dot plant

    Hippo Rose

    Mulit-colored foliage of hippo rose polka dot plant
  • gryphon begonia

    Gryphon Begonia

    Gryphon begonia leaves fading from pink to green
  • Coleus


    Bright pink and yellow coleus leaves
  • magilla perilla

    Magilla Perilla

    Colorful magilla perilla foliage in garden


In regions that experience freezing temperatures in the winter, ferns are generally treated as annual plants. This makes them a perfect addition to North Texas gardens that experience hot summers with an occasional winter freeze.

Their shade-loving feathery fronds can grow tall and wide, giving your landscape a joyful burst of height and testure. Ferns reproduce via spores rather than seeds, and they’re capable of actually “drinking” from their leaves. Despite being classed as annuals, a light mist on a regular basis will allow you to keep them happy from one season to the next.

Hippo Rose Polka Dot Plant 

This versatile beauty will thrive inside or out, in full or partial shade, with absolutely no pruning! Her large, colorful leaves more than make up for the fact that she doesn’t blossom.

Hippo Rose’s broad foliage will bring a leafy bouquet of rich color to your garden. The leaves range from lime green or deep green, to salmon, pink, red, and even purple! 

Gryphon Begonias (pegasus) 

Unlike her cousins, this begonia rarely blooms. However, its leaves are quite a sight, with avocado-green edges accented with veins of maroon and silver.

This hardy plant needs very little watering, as is know to thrive in various settings. Aside from occasional pruning when dead leaves are spotted, gryphon begonias are gorgeous and low-maintenance addition to your garden.


While it belongs to the mint family, coleus produces a stunningly colorful variety of foliage. You can find brilliant green and bronze colored leaves with deep maroon or avocado-green veins, or even deep pink leaves that are outlined with varying shades of green.

Not all coleus breeds are shade friendly, so make sure you ask and read the labels before bringing one home. Some varieties are even classed as “trailing,” making them a robust and colorful ground cover.

Magilla Perilla 

Magilla perilla is yet another versatile foliage plant on our list. Happy inside and out, in both the heat and cold, she will thrive so long as she’s getting a bit more water in extreme heat. One thing to keep in mind, if you bring it inside, is that this plant can grow quite tall if not pruned properly.

This plant’s teardrop leaves can be found in plum purple and deep green, often with a bright fuchsia stripe down the center. Younger leaves start out as bright green with a yellow stripe, making actively growing plants quite a rainbow of contrasting color patterns.


Here is a summary of our favorite annual shade loving flowering plants:

  • Lobelia offers lavender blooms that require minimal sunlight, making this a great choice for shaded yards or indoor flower pots.
  • Begonias, with their rainbow of blossoms, will thrive both inside and out with adequate watering.
  • Impatiens are avid growers who can be trained to enjoy both shade and direct sunlight.
  • Trailing Snapdragons produce long vines of trumpet-shaped blossoms in red, pink, and purple.
  • Coral Bells offer multi-colored leaves with tiny white blossoms, and they’re partially sun tolerant.
  • Duchess Blue and White Torenia are also mildly sun tolerant, and they attract hummingbirds.
  • Primula (primrose) blooms early in small bunches of flowers, and the plant can grow quite tall.
  • Sweet Alyssum is tolerant to drought and heat, and can rebloom the following year with proper care.
  • Sunpatiens are tolerant to dappled shade, and are a hybrid of Walleriana Impatiens and New Guinea Impatiens.
  • Foam Flowers produce a “tower” of pink and white blossoms, and their leaves remain green year-round.

Here is a summary of our favorite annual shade loving foliage plants:

  • Ferns may not produce flowers, but their feathery foliage livens up your garden with a regular spritz from the water bottle.
  • Hippo Rose Polka Dot Plants produce multi-colored leaves with a green edge, and a variety of colors in the center.
  • Gryphon Begonias rarely bloom, but their foliage is deep green with maroon and silver veins.
  • Coleus is a member of the mint family with multi-colored leaves that can make a lovely ground cover.
  • Magilla Perilla produces deep green and purple leaves with a pink stripe down the center.

Whether it’s a tabletop, a kitchen window, or a shady corner of your yard, these beautiful flowers will bring color and fragrance to the area with minimal upkeep. With a stable climate and a bit of care, you can enjoy these shade loving annuals for several months.

Read more about how JC’s can assist you with your landscaping projects!

Picture of Janice Nelson

Janice Nelson

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