Annuals for Shade

Shade loving annuals can be a bit tricky, especially here in Northeast Kansas. Our summers can be hot and dry or hot and wet. These are difficult conditions for annuals, whether in shade or sun.

Shade Annual Care

Fortunately, we do have some annuals that will work very well in shade and thrive in the heat. When you are shopping for these annuals, remember that there are varying forms of shade. For example, shade in the morning but not afternoon, can be very trying for plants exposed to late afternoon sun.

When you are planting annuals in shady spots, they should have less than 4 hours of direct sun per day. This is usually found under trees on the east side of buildings, but can be anywhere trees are present in numbers.

yellow-leaved begonias in the shade garden
Trailing begonias work well in containers

Once your annuals are planted, fertilize them every 3 weeks with either a fish emulsion or Fertilome’s Rose & Flower Food. Annuals, because they use so much energy in one season to produce flowers and seeds, need more fertilizer than perennials or trees.

Shade Annuals

My favorite annuals for use in shade gardens include the following:

  • Begonia
  • Impatiens
  • Coleus
  • Fuschia
  • Lobelia
  • Hypoestes
  • Plectranthus
  • Shrimp Plant

While I think that bronze-leaf begonias have been vastly over-used in the last 2 decades, I like the bigleaf Rex begonias for their colors. There are also many new, trailing begonias that work well in hanging baskets and planters. Mix and match leaf colors with other plants for the best look.

shrimp plant
Shrimp plant grows well in full sun or part shade

In the past, I viewed impatiens as a boring substitute for perennial shade plants. Now, I like to add these little beauties into the landscape as filler plants. Despite concerns over impatiens downy mildew, I have had little problem with them.

Who dislikes coleus? There is a leaf color or style, or type for everyone. They can big huge, or tiny and trailing. I like to use coleus in mass plantings, as thrillers in containers, or spillers in hanging baskets. There are many series and individual cultivars. My favorite is ‘Fishnet Stockings’. One of the best series is the Mainstreet Series.

Check out these plants and others at Grimm’s Gardens local garden store at 2991 Goldfinch Road, Hiawatha, KS or in Nebraska City, NE.

Happy planting!

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