Skip to main content

If you live in zone 6, here are 6 shade perennials you should absolutely grow

Great perennials to plant in your shady zone 6 garden

Manicured lawn with flower beds beneath shade trees
Hannamariah/Shutterstock

Most plants love sunshine, but it can be challenging to fill up that shady spot in your landscaping when living in zone 6. While these are many houseplants that thrive in low-light, it can be trickier to find shade-loving perennials for your outdoor garden. However, if you know where to look, there are actually plenty of plants to choose from for your shady zone 6 garden.

Whether you need just a few plants to fill in smaller shady spots or enough plants to fill your entire garden, this list has you covered. Here we’ll be talking about some of our favorite and unique Zone 6 shade perennials that will provide your garden with greenery and color year after year.

A branch of pink bleeding heart flowers
Kelly Whalley/Shutterstock

Bleeding heart plant

The bleeding heart plant, or Lamprocapnos spectabilis, is native to Asia and blooms in early spring. About 20 flowers hang down in a row and come in either pink, red, or white. The bushy foliage grows when the weather warms up in spring but will die back in the summer heat. They like moist soil, so be sure to water regularly; not only do they survive in shady areas, they actually prefer it.

Mature plants can grow up to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Be cautious about where you plant these. They’re toxic, so if you have a child or pet that likes to taste test things they shouldn’t, you might want to steer clear of this plant.

These flowering perennials are ideal for a cottage garden. They’re low maintenance and require no pruning or deadheading unless you’d like to for aesthetics.

lungwort blooms
Marigard/Pixabay

Lungwort 

Don’t let the ugly name fool you; these beautiful plants will be a fantastic addition to your shady flower garden. Not only does this plant have an odd name, but it’s also a delicate and lovely flowering plant that will come back year after year. Their tiny flowers bring elegance and a whimsical feel to a garden space that could go perfectly with a cottage garden. They are also a favorite among pollinators such as bees and butterflies!

It blooms in early spring, and the flower can be blue, pink, or white. Usually, there is even more than one color on a single plant! However, these plants are not typically purchased for their flowers but for their spotted leaves. Sometimes called the spotted dog plant, lungworts have little green leaves with random white spots. This makes these plants attractive even when their pretty flowers aren’t in bloom.

They are shade-loving plants that like their soil to be moist. They can reach heights of 12 inches and, in excellent conditions, will spread throughout the garden quickly. You can divide them in early spring or fall to replant them in other locations in your garden, or let them take over on their own. Unfortunately, these plants are toxic to both humans and animals so be sure to plant them out of reach of curious kids and pets.

Bright blue corydalis flowers
Sonja-Kalee/Pixabay

Corydalis

Although the corydalis isn’t the prettiest plant, it has other attractive features that might encourage you to add it to your landscape. These shade-loving plants have been used in Chinese medicine for ailments such as insomnia, depression, pain relief, fibromyalgia, and menstrual cramps! Plant a mini pharmacy right outside your door with this little plant.

You can plant these mound-shaped plants around the garden’s borders and enjoy its small flowers from spring until the first frost. These flowers are most often yellow or blue. The whole plant, when in bloom, reaches about 15 inches in height, making it a great layering plant among other shorter and taller plants. The corydalis also loves moist soil and partial shade, but it can survive full sun as long as it gets enough water.

This plant will die back when winter rolls around, but don’t worry; they’ll be back when the warm spring arrives.

A Japanese toad lily flower at night
DerWeg/Pixabay / Pixabay

Japanese toad lily

With a cute name like toad lily, you’re likely already interested in this plant for your flower garden. The toad lily, or Tricyrtis, has unique blooms that come in many colors and are sure to bring an eye-catching aspect to your garden. What’s even more impressive about these plants is that it’s not just their blooms that are variegated. The leaves of the toad lily are often variegated as well, so even when they aren’t flowering, they’re still beautiful.

Like all the other plants on this list, the toad lily is a shade-loving plant that prefers its soil to stay a little moist. They’re also great for container gardens and keeping the deer away from other plants! When planting this flowering beauty in the ground, be sure to add organic compost to give it plenty of food.

Acanthus mollis flower spikes with white flowers
pen_ash/Pixabay

Bear’s Breeches

What an adorable name when compared to its Latin name, acanthus mollis. Although its flowers are cute, this plant is known for its leaves. The blooms appear on a 3-foot tall spire and bloom white or pink flowers similar to snapdragons. Caring for this plant is as easy as putting it in a shady spot with well-draining soil. Be sure to keep it well-watered. It’s as easy as that. It’s perfect for borders in landscaping!

During the winter, this plant survives by relying on its deep roots. If your climate experiences winters that are too harsh, the deep roots could be damaged and kill the plant. You can protect the plant from frigid temperatures by heavily mulching it in the winter. The mulch acts like a warm blanket.

pink astilbes blooming
AKuptsova/Pixabay

Astilbe

Astilbe, also known as false goat’s beard or false spirea, is a fantastic zone 6 shade perennial to add color and texture to your garden. With tall, fluffy flower spikes that come in many shades of pink, purple, red, and white, astilbe will stand out among smaller flowers and foliage plants.

They thrive well in partial shade, but will grow well in full shade as well. Astilbe grow best with regular, even watering and semi-regular fertilizing. While the flowers are in bloom they’ll draw many butterflies and bees to your garden. After the flowers have faded, you can leave them standing or cut them back. Astilbe can also be grown in container gardeners and make lovely cut flowers.

With cute names and even prettier flowers, these shade-loving perennials will add a pop of color to your flower garden. They’re easy to care for, and some even have medicinal properties! So if you have a shady corner you’ve been wondering what to do with, look no further than these remarkable plants.

Editors' Recommendations

Rebecca Wolken
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Rebecca's has written for Bob Villa and a Cincinnati based remodeling company. When she's not writing about home remodeling…
The 6 best dill companion plants to grow in your garden
Plants that benefit from being next to dill
Dill herb

Dill is a fast-growing annual that makes for a flavorful addition to food as well as a beneficial plant alongside other crops. While it goes to seed quickly, it’s a cold-tolerant herb that grows easily for a delicious garnish all year long. Dill features a sharp anise and citrus flavor, making it a great addition to pastas, salads, soups, and other savory dishes. And yes, it pairs perfectly with your preserved pickles!

Out in your landscape, dill makes for a wonderful fixture in gardens because it naturally attracts beneficial pollinators, such as bees. This tasty herb also repels unwanted pests such as spider mites, aphids, and, notably, cabbage pests, because it attracts predatory insects like ladybugs. Both these qualities make it great for companion planting, which is the concept that some plants can pair together to help encourage growth, repel pests, and attract pollinators. Ahead, we’ve rounded up six of the best dill companion plants so you can plan your garden accordingly.

Read more
These are the best zone 9 fruit trees we’ve found
From lemons to peaches, here are the fruits to grow in zone 9
Peaches in a container

There are 13 climate zones on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, and zone 9 offers one of the best areas to grow fresh produce, including several fruits that you probably already love. Long summers and mild winters define this region, which stretches across the southernmost part of the U.S. Though the short winters can pose challenges for plants that require a chilling period to grow and bloom, the extended growing season in this area is welcoming for fruit growth. Long story short, there is never a shortage of zone 9 fruit trees to try out.

If you live in zone 9, pull out your favorite fruit recipes — below, we've put together a guide that tells you everything you need to know about zone 9, as well as the lush fruit trees that thrive in it!

Read more
How to transplant moss – and when you should
Here's everything you need to know about finding moss and caring for it
A close-up of moss

Moss is a beautiful and easy-to-grow plant that can be found just about everywhere. It can be grown as an ornamental plant in pots or even as a ground cover in your lawn! You can source your moss from a garden store, buy seeds online, or transplant moss from elsewhere.

Transplanting moss doesn't just mean moving it from one place to another -- it can also be a way to propagate your moss. Whether you’re transplanting moss from one container to another or transplanting it from the wild, we’ll give you all the instructions you need on how to transplant moss, including where to find moss and how to take care of it after transplanting.

Read more