Guide to Shade Plants: Annuals

Authored by Kristelle Falk - Greenhouse Sales Manager
Sept 22nd, 2021
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When it comes to plants there is so much to know and learn. And when it comes to shady areas there is even more to learn. Often, we feel the shade options for plants just aren’t as good as the sun loving varieties. I will agree the selection is much smaller especially when it comes to blooming varieties. One of the hardest things to find is a beautifully blooming, shade loving plant. But fret not! I am here to save the day with my top list of beautiful shady blooms and their care to make everyone’s lives easier. Yes, yes thank you. Please save all applause for the end.

We will start with, possibly, the most popular and asked about flowers. Begonias! Begonias are an annual flower that really make a statement. With vibrant colours and large rose-like blooms it is hard to not appreciate them. For the eccentric gardener they are even a lovely snack and edible meal décor. That’s right: begonia flowers are edible and depending on the colour the flavour changes slightly. The best general taste I can say is that it tastes similar to rhubarb, just a little tangier. Depending on the colour it may vary in sweetness and tartness, but it makes for a fun stunt to simply pop a flower into your mouth and munch it down. Aside from that fun little tidbit, begonias are often known as a fickle flower. They are very fragile and require a very consistent but not too heavy watering regime. Begonias easily drown so you only want to water once the soil is dry but don’t let them get too dry or they burn. Begonias also love deep shade. They will tolerate some sun but will do best in heavy shade. They will always tell you if they are getting too much sunshine because the edges of the leaves will turn brown and crispy. But once you learn what your begonia likes you will be ever grateful for them. They bloom for the entire summer and into fall and offer the biggest and most vibrant colours you can get for shade flowers. 

Another common option that I see out and about most is the impatiens. There are several varieties, double flowering, Sunpatiens, New Guinea, etc.… The one that has been most popular lately is New Guinea. New Guinea Impatiens gets to be a lovely full bush with tropical looking flowers. Their colours are lovely and vibrant but tend to be in the pink spectrum making their colour selection slightly smaller than begonias. However, they are far less fussy and are much easier to keep happy. Just water them when their soil is dry and keep them in a nice deep shade area, they will take care of the rest. I find the double impatiens tend to be a little touchier when it comes to moisture but otherwise, they are easy to take care of and offer some lovely colours and a mini rose-like look.

One of my personal favorites for shade flowers is Bacopa. Bacopa is a gentle trailing plant that gets covered in dainty blooms about the size of a dime. They come in white, pink, and a purply blue as well as double, jumbo, and regular. Bacopa are easy care and will bloom profusely if they don’t get too hot. Once the heat gets high, they stop blooming and adopt the look of a lush little bush. Keeping them in the shade is the best way to encourage continuous blooms and a little trim never hurts either. Bacopa can tolerate some sunshine but again, as soon as the sun gets hot the flowers will cease to exist. Bacopa prefers to be on the dryer side so you do want to be careful not to over water or they will wilt. Watering them when the soil is nice and dry is the perfect way to keep them happy. 

There are so many other varieties that are great for shade that I want to talk about, we haven’t even touched on perennials either, so watch for a part two! 

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