If you enjoy container gardening but do not have a sunny spot, you can still have colorful blossoms in flower boxes by picking plants that prefer shade. Your choices include tall plants with impressive flowers, bushy specimens that fill space well, trailing plants that cascade over a planter’s border and brief, mat-forming bloomers. Mix and match them in your flower box for interesting effects.
Some tall, shade-loving flowering plants function well grouped together or used singly as a focus in the center of a box containing a number of plants. Astilbe cultivar “Purple Lance” (Astilbe chinensis “Purple Lance”) is a great example — it enjoys shade and contains magenta-purple, plumed flowers that are about 3 feet tall. It grows as a perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, or you can treat it like an annual and replace it following the growing season. Bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) also enjoys shade and grows about 3 feet tall. It’s drooping clusters of showy pink flowers and grows in USDA zones 3 through 9.
Full and Bushy
Several shade-loving plants have bushy types that cover themselves in flowers — they function well surrounding taller plants or as space-fillers in a large flower box. Flowering begonia cultivar Dragon Wing (Begonia “Bepared” Dragon Wing Red) is a good example and it grows as a mounded plant 18 inches tall and broad. It covers itself in showy red flowers and grows year-round in USDA zones 10 through 11, or you can treat it like an annual. The impatiens, or bizzy Lizzy (Impatiens walleriana) additionally flowers profusely in colour. Its flowers are pink, rose, red, white or bi-color, depending on the range, and they cover the plant in summer. Impatiens grows in USDA zones 10 through 11, or you can treat it like an annual.
If your flower box is tall, or when it’s elevated on a porch or deck, then adding plants that track over its rim creates an appealing effect. The fuchsia number Dainty Angel Earrings (Fuchsia “Angel Earrings” var. Dainty) is a great example that grows in USDA zones 10 through 11, or as an annual in colder areas. It enjoys shade and contains 2-foot-long, cascading comes covered in purple and red bicolor flowers. The clerodendrum plant (Clerodendrum thomsoniae), also known as bleeding heart vine, grows as a trailing plant that can have stems around 12 feet, with nonstop, white blooms with deep red centers. The vine grows in USDA zones 10 through 12 or you can treat it like an annual.
A Blooming Mat
Some flowering ground covers form a reduced, colorful mat that fills in space involving other plants in a flower box. As an example, sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is just about 6 inches tall but spreads to fill a place of 12 to 18 inches. It enjoys colour and contains fragrant, tiny white flowers that cover the plant in spring. It’s a perennial in USDA zones 4 through 8 but can also be treated as an annual. Blue-flowered lobelia (Lobelia erinus) is also an appealing mat-forming plant. It’s just about 6 inches tall but spreads to cover a place of about 1 foot, and contains dozens of blue to violet flowers with yellow throats. Lobelia tolerates some sun, but also does well in colour and grows in USDA zones 10 and 11, or you can develop it as an annual.