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Top 15 Annual Plants That Grow In The Shade

Annuals might only last for a single season, but the show-stoppers are a must-have for any landscape.

They add breathtaking splashes of color in an ongoing parade of blooms or unusual foliage. Best of all, many annuals will grow well in the shady locations where other plants fail to thrive.

In this article, we will look at the top 15 annual plants that grow in shade. 

Top Annual Plants That Grow in Shade 

1. Impatiens

We are putting the best first with the classic shade-loving annual impatiens.

This petite plant will produce a bevy of blossoms even in full shade. Best of all, it comes in a rainbow of shades. You can even choose from swirls and bicolor.

The low-maintenance shade-loving annual is a long time cottage garden favorite that thrives on neglect. However, in some areas the small plants can sustain downy mildew. If your impatiens develops the disease, then you should avoid replanting in the same spot for a few seasons.

Impatiens stand between 10 to 20 inches tall and measure up to two feet in width. 

2. Tuberous Begonia 

The tuberous begonia comes in single or double blooms. Each blossom looks like a miniature rose.

These lovely flowers look stunning planted in hanging baskets positioned in the shade.

You’ll find varieties in white, orange, red, pink, and sunny yellow.

The tuberous begonia will only survive in USDA zones 9 to 11 so if you have hard winters then you’ll need to dig up the tubers to store over the winter months and then replant in the spring. 

3. Lobelia (Lobelia erinus

The dark bluish/purple blooms of the lobelia bring a splash of color to shady locations. You can also find varieties in white and lighter lavender.

They have a very compact growth habit. Each plant stands from six to 12 inches tall and will spread about 24 inches or less.

This plant is a fantastic choice in areas where deer are a problem because the animals will not graze on the plants. Also, the lobelia requires no real care to flourish. You don’t have to worry about deadheading the plants to encourage further flower production. 

4. Browallia

Choose from violet, white, or brilliant periwinkle blues. The Browallia grows in a mounding habit and requires no real care to bloom all season long.

The easy-to-care-for plants look fantastic planted in a shady location of the garden or when placed in containers or baskets. The plants grow up to 16 inches high and will grow 14 inches wide. 

5. Woodland Tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris)

Woodland tobacco stands up to five feet in height. It produces long flower stems that are adorned with clusters of tubular white flowers.

If you love hummingbirds then you’ll fall in love with this cheerful plant because it definitely attracts the little birds to the garden.

The plants do best in moisture-retentive soil but can withstand mild drought once established.

This delightful plant readily self-seeds so you can plant the seedlings in other areas of the garden or give them out to family and friends. 

6. Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri

The wishbone flower is similar in appearance to the classic snapdragon. It is multi-colored and produces whimsical trailers which makes it an ideal choice for any container or hanging basket located in a shady spot.

The plant is deer resistant and can tolerate heat. There is no need to deadhead it to encourage more bloom production.

The wishbone flower stands up to 16 inches tall and will spread about 10 inches wide. There are numerous hybrids available. 

7. Moneywort (Lysimachia congestiflora)

The moneywort bears a striking resemblance to the perennial known as the creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia). It is related, but the moneywort is a shade loving annual.

It produces bold sunshine yellow flowers with colorful variegated foliage. The low growing plant makes a great ground cover in shady locations where it will spread outward. 

8. Bromeliad (Guzmania)

Bromeliads are popular houseplants, but they thrive when planted in a shady location of the garden. Some people refer to the popular plant as the scarlet star. They definitely add impactful color to any location of the garden.

The plant’s colorful brackets come in purple, yellow, orange, and red. The dramatic color display lasts for months.

When watering the bromeliad, try to water it into the cup where the leaves meet at the base of the plant. However, you can also rely on drip irrigation or rain. They stand about one to two feet tall and just as wide. 

9. Shamrock (Oxalis hybrid)

Why not bring a little luck of the Irish to your garden with the dainty shamrock. The foliage grows in a cluster. It makes an ideal ground cover in a shady spot. The dark hued foliage helps make the small pink flowers standout.

This plant requires constantly moist soil (not saturated). Some people dig up the shamrock and move it indoors during the winter months.

Usually, it will grow about six to 16 inches tall and spread about 12 inches. 

10. Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas)

A shade loving annual, the sweet potato vine grows as a trailing plant. The colorful vine is available in chartreuse, bronze or black choices. Each leaf has a heart-like shape.

The vine stands up to 10 inches tall and will easily trail up to two and a half feet long. It makes a superb groundcover, or you can grow it in hanging baskets in a shady location. 

11. Diamond Frost Euphorbia (Euphorbia ‘Innepuphdia’

This small shade-loving annual will bloom non-stop in shady locations or full sun. It is remarkably hardy and easy to care for. The tiny white flowers are sure to add cheer to your garden. It can grow up to 18 inches tall and wide. 

12. Molten Lava Oxalis (Oxalis vulcanicola

Some gardeners consider the Oxalis an invasive weed, but the Molten Lava variety is a lovely plant with dainty yellow blooms and chartreuse leaves. It grows well in both shade and sunny locations.

This plant does not like overly hot weather and can easily wilt. It grows about 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide. 

13. ‘Velvet Elvis’ Plectranthus

The plectranthus has fuzzy leaves that are green on top with a violet underbelly. The lavender blooms stand about 4 inches tall and form lovely flower spices. The plant grows about 28 inches tall and 31 inches wide. 

14. Fuchsia 

The fuchsia is a shade lover that creates dangling pink and purple blooms. The plant grows up to 16 inches tall and around 14 inches wide. You can easily grow it in a hanging basket located in the shade.

Hummingbirds adore this plant and will flock around the flowers. 

15. Coleus

The coleus always deserves a place on any list of annual plants that grow in the shade. It is more of a foliage plant, but it produces a lovely range of colors that look fabulous in the low-light locations.

You’ll find coleus with green, yellow, or deep burgundy. Many also have variegated leaves. Plant the coleus directly in the garden or use it in containers. The plant typically stands two feet tall and grows two feet wide.

These top 15 annual plants that grow in shade are a great addition to any landscape. There is no reason why the shady patches in your garden have to look drab or neglected. Choose one ore more of these plants to add visual interest to the location.